Shopify has long been addressing problems that bar small businesses from opening an e-commerce platform, but some barriers still exist for companies to fulfill and ship online orders.
Shopify's Harley Finkelstein. (Photo by Daniel Weinand)
The local software company announced Wednesday an initiative with Canada Post that will make it easier for small companies to ship to their customers.
A free app developed jointly by engineers at Shopify and Canada Post allows users to print shipping labels easily as well as provide accurate shipping rates during checkout and a custom tracking page to each shopper.
“We’ve democratized the shopping portion,” said Shopify’s chief platform officer Harley Finkelstein. “But by partnering with Canada Post, we’re helping to democratize the fulfillment portion as well.”
Members of Canada Post’s VentureOne loyalty program, which provides discounts on shipping for small businesses, can create an online store using Shopify’s platform for free for three months. All of Shopify’s clients can access the Canada Post app to receive the shipping benefits as well.
Shopify says it currently has more than 2,500 Canadian merchants, while its new Crown corporation partner has a community of more than 200,000 Canada Post Venture One users. Mr. Finkelstein says he hopes the new partnership will allow the Ottawa firm to reach “thousands” of potential new customers.
"For centuries, Canada Post has been an enabler of trade and commerce in this country. And we will continue to play an even stronger role in this burgeoning digital economy," stated René Desmarais, senior vice-president of parcels at Canada Post in a company release. "And teaming up with leading e-commerce providers can only help to promote our country's digital economy in the long term."
An estimated $8 billion of physical goods are ordered online in Canada each year for residential deliveries, a number that is forecasted to reach more than $15 billion by 2016, according to the release.
However, that still means that less than five per cent of total retail sales in Canada are currently done online, compared to nine per cent in the United States, said Mr. Finkelstein.
When he sat down with Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra a year ago, they discussed why this was and what could be done about it.
The new app announced Wednesday is a result of that conversation.
“This is unlike anything else done anywhere else in the world,” Mr. Finkelstein said. “We’re helping Canada Post, an iconic Canadian brand, introduce e-commerce to small businesses.”
Canada Post reaches more than 15.1 million addresses and operates nearly 6,500 post offices across the country.
Shopify’s e-commerce platform, which was founded locally in 2004, hosts more than 32,000 online retailers including Gatorade, Amnesty International and General Electric.