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COVID-19 pushes Shopify's business in India as more businesses go online

Canada headquartered Shopify is seeing a rapid growth in its global business, with multiple small businesses going online to avoid COVID-19 blues. Shopify India has seen 120 percent growth in new merchant additions in 2020 compared to 2019.

November 16, 2020 / 10:25 PM IST

COVID-19 has pushed a large number of offline businesses online. This has helped players like Shopify generate massive business during the months of the pandemic. Canada based technology startup Shopify is doubling down on its efforts in the developing markets to leverage this push for businesses towards online.

Shopify which has its presence in India since 2014 has seen a 120 percent jump in terms of new merchants joining the platform in the first six months of 2020 compared to 2019. The company is seeing rapid growth of many high street retail brands into the online space as well as small businesses selling their products directly online.

Further with the rise of ecommerce in the country, many brands are trying to go direct to their consumers, directing them to their websites and fulfilling orders directly. These have benefited platforms like Shopify who power most of these brands’ online presence.

Shopify is a web platform which enables businesses to create an online presence, generate demand for its products, accept orders online, process payments and ship products as well. Overall it helps create online businesses.

“During the months of the lockdown in India, when many businesses were shut, we enabled multiple businesses to move online, interestingly most of these players have continued to invest and grow online,” said Sandeep Komaravelly, director of international business at Shopify.


Shopify has a 25 member team here.

He added that over the last three years Shopify has been pushing its global presence and since then the markets outside North America have shown very promising growth. Further with so many entrepreneurs starting up, the need to set up an online store, accept orders, ship products have risen manifold thereby giving fresh business opportunities for players like Shopify.

Not only in India, the September quarter has been one of the blockbuster business seasons for Shopify globally. As per global numbers reported by this New York Stock Exchange listed entity it reported a gross profit of more than $412 million, up 88 percent from $219 million in 2019. Its gross merchandise value rose to $30 billion compared to $16 billion in 2019. The company does not disclose India specific numbers.

“We have product offerings for both small businesses looking to set up an online store as well as for offline businesses looking for opportunities online,” said Komaravelly.

Shopify works with multiple offline partners in India. These partners help merchants set up their online presence. They also help businesses with online marketing efforts, search engine optimisation and other features to help the business grow.

Shopify also has deep integrations with Facebook, which is a popular platform for merchants to interact with their customers. Shopify works with Facebook to power their commerce and check out features.

COVID-19 threw a new business opportunity for Shopify and they made alterations in the back end to adjust with the new situation. Komaravelly said that the company launched new features like an express theme for quick set up of business online, free email messaging. The company also launched Facebook and WhatsApp integration.

“While these features helped offline brands move online, for our online partners we launched local delivery options by partnering with logistics players, and expanded our 14-day trial period to 90 days to encourage more players to try us out,” he added.

Among business segments which opened up after the onset of COVID-19 are food and beverages, grocery, fast moving consumer goods. Komaravelly pointed out that these sectors were never in demand pre COVID-19.

“Interestingly we started business opportunities beyond the metro cities as well across tier two and three locations,” he pointed out.

While Canadian startup Shopify has seen business in India grow, local ecommerce players have also seen similar business growth during the COVID-19 months. Bengaluru headquartered Instamojo for instance reported unit level positivity during the months of the pandemic, mainly driven by demand from micro businesses to move online.

In an interaction with Moneycontrol, Instamojo chief executive Sampad Swain had said that he is planning to be profitable in 2020.

Overall the small business segment in India which had stuttered because of COVID-19 has found a new lifeline online. Buoyed by rapid smartphone penetration in the country, players like Shopify are seeing massive business opportunities in the subcontinent.

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Pratik Bhakta
first published: Nov 16, 2020 11:13 am
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