Shopify built a $673 million-revenue business by helping entrepreneurs set up shop online, then expand offline into brick-and-mortar locations with the necessary back-end tools. Now Shopify is making its own offline move.
On Oct. 11 in Los Angeles the Canada-based commerce platform opens its first permanent physical shop, which COO Harley Finkelstein describes as a sort of “Genius Bar” for entrepreneurs. Part workspace and part demo center, Shopify’s eponymous space is designed to offer a support and community hub for entrepreneurs who want advice on how to get a company off the ground–and presumably convert them into Shopify customers in the process.
“We want to remove the perceived barrier to entry for entrepreneurs,” says Shopify vice president of product Satish Kanwar. “Some things are just easier said and done face-to-face. So you can sit down here with your laptop and also see how our hardware products work in person.”
Shopify will staff the space with “gurus” who will teach daily classes on subjects like setting up an online shop or integrating a point-of-sale software system into operations. The location also will feature free workshops taught by partner companies. Google, for instance, will lead a session on integrating with its Nest line of products. Another forthcoming workshop taught by packaging company Arka will focus on Black Friday/Cyber Monday package design.
Kanwar says in this crowded retail environment–and particularly this holiday season–Shopify will be focused on educating entrepreneurs who come into the space on two big tasks: creating engaging in-person experiences for customers, and using social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to build a brand and eventually drive sales.
“These days it’s about being more agnostic as to when [a sale] happens and focusing first on educating customers and building a community,” he says.
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SOURCE: Inc., Lindsay Blakely