It’s my first Thanksgiving and Black Friday at a commerce company since my time at Walmart Labs. It’s always a reflective time and I found myself thinking about the initial months at Shopify. You never really know what a new place with feel like, no matter the process and time you get to spend during the recruitment period.
How has it been and what have I learned?
The developer opportunity is huge
I knew that Shopify was a rocket ship and how it was a platform for millions of merchants. What I didn’t fully understand before joining was the size of the developer opportunity. If you were looking to make a bet on an app ecosystem, and believe in the commerce space and helping entrepreneurs, I think the ROI is bigger diving in and building on Shopify compared to other platforms that are much more saturated and hard to get awareness on. With commerce you can find a niche that helps multiple merchants and build true win win situations. You help the merchants, and are in the critical flow of $$$.
I have been chatting with Shopify developers week on week and learning about their experiences ramping up and building to success. It is vital that we work together to improve the full developer success lifecycle:
- Find an idea and validate it
- Make it as easy as possible to build it fast
- Get it in front of merchants so they can install it and now you work together to drive both of your businesses.
I am seeing small teams that build large businesses in short time frames, and large crews building a portfolio of products. There are theme developers who are able to build beautiful creations that fit the varied types of commerce, and agencies who are deep experts available to jump in to build the perfect commerce site that is individual and personal.
One experience that tells the tale occurred in my initial onboarding. One of the opportunities that everyone at Shopify gets as they start is to spend some time with merchants on the lines of support. It’s a genius move as you get to learn the product and build strong empathy with merchants. This was one of the many onboarding moments that showed how Shopify respects the opportunity. We are growing fast, but there’s so much room to improve.
One merchant was a coffee shop in a small town in Texas. The COVID pandemic forced them to pivot and they used Shopify to get online. At first they thought it was a way to stay in business and allow their locals to pickup their brew. But over time they started to explore options, courtesy of the app platform, and one was game changing. They installed a B2B wholesale app and started to see small bulk orders for their beans. Then the bulk orders got larger so much so that the reason they called support was to get some help with the performance of very large orders. This business transformed from a local coffee shop to becoming a global supplier.
Founders at the helm matter
I really love working at a place that still has strong founders at the helm. Tobi is incredible engaged and it’s so fun to see. Unlike other spots I have been in where founders got a lil distracted and often wanted to build other businesses on the side, the team here understands how early we are on the mission and show how excited they are to build a company with real longevity. I have already witnessed how fast the team can make decisions as they focus on making commerce great for everyone. This speed of purpose is refreshing.
Growth mode is just… fun
The company is still very much in hyper growth. This means that there is much more to do than you have time for, and there is huge scope for everyone.
I am spending much more time on hiring, and really excited to bring on new members to the team and building our impact together. The folks I have found at Shopify have been passionate and exceptional, and combining that with some of the best from the broader community has me incredible jazzed for what we can pull off in 2022. There is so much across the platform, tooling, education, I am chomping at the bit to deliver and constantly improve it.
I was impressed with my hiring experience, and with a flow of great people at various stages of it, I’ve been incredibly happy to hear them mirror my own thoughts. The high order bit is that the process is truly focused on candidates having the chance to really show what they bring to the table. It’s nice being able to wholeheartedly recommend giving us a chance and seeing if there is a fit, and not worrying that folks will have a poor experience, or get unlucky with the draw.
Web is a first class citizen
I don’t have to fight for execs or teams to care about the Web here. Commerce transcends all platforms of course, but there is a truly understanding of the role the Web plays strategically for all of our merchants. The importance not just of channels, and the ability to sell on others territory, but the vital role of having a direct connection with buyers and having them coming to you and your site.
You see in projects such as Hydrogen that Shopify understands the responsibility of being a great citizen with the Web, and we are doing more and more, whenever we find areas where we think our expertise can help.
I remember being in other commerce companies when the feeling was that the Web was dead and mobile native was all that mattered. It was all about the gold rush to installs. It was humbling.
I remember seeing the engagement charts, and to be honest you could see how many believed the lines would keep going and crossing. In reality, even for big brands, this wasn’t the case. And for smaller niches it was much different. As someone who feels the Web is quite special, it’s nice to work somewhere that gets it.
Serving merchants, developers, and entrepreneurs
It is much more meaningful to see the success of merchants around the world hit their goals, and surpass them. Supporting a diverse long tail of commerce hits me in the same way that it did when working on the web platform itself. I don’t want large silos that take all the winnings and have all of the power, so working on a true platform with a vibrant ecosystem is important to me.
So, a few months in, and I’m more charged than ever to help make Shopify the best platform for developers touching commerce in any way shape or form!