Shopify has made its name and accumulated 80,000 businesses as customers by providing a simplified ecommerce and inventory system, but now it’s moving offline. The company is expected to announce a $100 million Series C funding round Thursday led by OMERS Ventures and Insight Venture Partners to provide offline commerce services for businesses.
“Our vision is that the future of retail isn’t online versus offline,” said Harley Finkelstein, Shopify CPO. “It’s about consumer choice.”
The round also included Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital, Georgian Partners, and Felicis Ventures. While Shopify has seen success online, with overall sales across all stores hitting the $1.5 billion mark this year, Finkelstein said that the next challenge is bringing the experience offline. While Shopify has explored similar shopping opportunities before — notably the startup’s Popify brick-and-mortar experience that took place last week in Toronto — the company has been focusing on refining tools for companies who choose to interact with customers in the real world.
“Thirty percent of our merchants have told us that they sell on some kind of offline channel,” Finkelstein explained. “Our future is that it’s not about online vs. offline shopping — it’s only about retail.”
In August, the company introduced a proprietary point-of-sale (POS) system available via iPad app for a $49 a month fee — complete with an inventory management and a cash register. Finkelstein said that the goal for the POS was developing a program that not only provided “just payments,” but also was simple enough to become a viable option for companies that normally choose older, more expensive POS systems offered by traditional companies like IBM and MICROS.
“Even if you grow to be a $20, $30 or $50 million shop, you should never have to leave our platform,” Finkelstein said.
Finkelstein said that the biggest selling point that Shopify’s POS system is a united platform that merges both online and offline sales. Not only would businesses be able to see their inventory both in store and online, but all sales would be tracked in real time. In addition, Finkelstein explains that in time, the company hopes to engage small businesses that don’t have online presences, using the POS system to entice them to establish an online shop.
“They may decide to hit a button, and all of a sudden they have an online store created for them,” Finkelstein said.
In order to make the complete shift to ecommerce, Finkelstein said that the company is focusing on hiring the right personnel. He explained that while the company has 320 current employees across three offices in Canada, the company plans on having more than 500 by the end of next year.