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Shopify Overtakes eBay as Second Biggest Shopping Site After Amazon (observer.com)
248 points by bgrynol on Sept 16, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 81 comments

Note that they are not the second biggest shopping site by any reasonable metric (sales, visitors, unique shoppers, orders, SKUs, really anything). This article is using market cap:

> The company has quickly become the most popular online shopping destination, second only to Amazon, thanks to an astronomical increase of its shares in the past year. So far this year, stock has soared 160% with revenue coming in at $362 million during its last quarter.

Shopify has a high stock price is the only take away from this article. It's not an ecommerce destination and is not comparable to Amazon or Ebay.

No, the article goes on to explicitly state:

Data also shows the platform recently overtook competitor eBay, once a powerhouse in this space, in terms of quarterly sales.

But the link doesn't actually say that. It is also talking about market cap. From the Financial Times article:

> The stock has climbed more than 150 per cent since the beginning of 2019, making Shopify more valuable than well-known internet companies including Twitter, Square and Spotify. Its market capitalisation — now more than $40bn — surpassed that of ecommerce pioneer eBay earlier this year.

It's all rather silly, it's sort of like saying Square is the second largest seller of coffee because a lot of coffee shops transact with it. AWS also hosts a ton of other eCommerce infrastructure, we have to include all sales made using AWS if you want this sort of comparison. It's a bunch of nonsense.

tl;dr If you sell shovels you can't claim you're one of the world's biggest miners.

Amazon and eBay are also selling shovels.

Amazon and eBay are selling shovels and claiming to be shovel merchants. Shopify is selling shovels and claiming to be a miner (as presented in this article).

The given link is hard pay walled and I don't see any more explanation of the number. Did they actually have more sales of consumer goods to consumers than eBay or are they saying the company which is on paper a competitor to eBay had more sales total which isn't the same thing.

If you want to compare Amazon vs eBay as a platform you wouldn't look at AWS to give an example of what I am talking about.

Limited share of the FT article it's linking to: https://on.ft.com/3098o7k

> "Its market capitalisation — now more than $40bn — surpassed that of ecommerce pioneer eBay earlier this year."

> "Most of the shoppers who spent more than $40bn across 800,000 Shopify merchants last year would have had no idea they were transacting with the Canadian company."

$40 billion is mentioned in two different contexts.

OK, but that's less than half of eBay. This is just a non-serious puff piece and I have no idea why it's being voted up on HN.


> In 2018, eBay enabled $95 billion of gross merchandise volume

But that defeats the purpose of reading an article and pick and choose what you want to talk about.

I read the article and the FT article, it's all about market cap. But since Shopify isn't actually a shopping site this is all a moot point.

Yes, but it is also an ecommerce indirectly, it provides products to its users 'drop shipping'.

Shopify isn't a homogeneous marketplace that is comparable to Amazon.com. It's a SaaS ecommerce platform. I've seen these comparisons made lately and I don't understand it. What am I missing?

For everyone that's trying to compare Shopify to marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, you really can't. They are apples to oranges. Shopify is an e-commerce platform that gives you your own website where you’re required to do your own marketing, SEO, and develop your own customer base. Selling on eBay and Amazon on the other hand gives you the advantage of putting your products in front of millions of customers who are actively window shopping. The former gives you ownership of the customer while the latter doesn’t.

Both types of sales channels have their own value props and are complimentary to each other. Furthermore, even each marketplace attracts their own customer archetypes so they can also be complimentary to each other. This isn’t a binary strategy where you choose to sell on one or the other!

I’m the founder of Trunk[1] which helps online e-commerce stores sync their inventory in real-time across their sales channels. Most of my customers on average sell on least 3 places (e.g. Shopify, eBay, and Amazon).

Congrats to Tobias and his team. He’s come a long way from being a Rails core team member back in the day!

1. https://trunkinventory.com

This looks incredibly useful. Real-time inventory sync is a big headache for some of our customers. (We provide a native mobile sales channel for retailers with only a traditional web presence. Think Tapcart (https://tapcart.co/), but not just for Shopify). I'd like to know what your plans are for which platforms to support next, and if you've got ideas for opening up an API at some point as well?

Thanks! The next integrations are looking to be either WooCommerce, QuickBooks Online, or Wix. NetSuite is also a big one but they are super slow in getting back to me. I’d be very interested in learning more about your product and customers, sounds great! The API has been something that’s been requested before but probably not a 2019 initiative. If you guys have an API that I can work with, that'll also work. Either way, let’s get in touch! You can email me at: james@trunkinventory.com

Trunk looks useful... my side business is handmade leather goods (https://coastleather.com) and cross posting between my own website, ebay, etsy and amazon is a pain, so I just don't bother. This has meant that channels other than my website became stale and I shut down the stores.

Do you have plans to include syncing for woocommerce stores?

Congrats on the success of your store :)

Yea, we do! WooCommerce is one of our most requested integrations and I’ll be getting to it soon. Trunk doesn’t yet support cross-posting however but this will be a Q4 intiative. Would inventory syncing be enough for you to get value from Trunk at the moment? I’d love to get in touch: james@trunkinventory.com

Well, Amazon/Ebay/Shopify/Etsy all are platforms that let other people sell things. I get your point (and might even agree with you), however if you look at it from the perspective of "I want to sell something... where do I go?", they're competition.

They do discovery, checkout, inventory, fulfillment, etc. It just happens to have a slightly different approach than the others.

Not really the same thing though, Amazon/eBay/Etsy you can browse multiple "stores". Shopify is just a platform so it really isn't that fair. It'd be like including every single Magento powered site to say Magento is the X largest platform.

Yeah but that's from the perspective of buyers, so OP's point still stands.

They do discovery? At Amazon and eBay most purchases come via Amazon's and eBay's search engines. Shopify doesn't have a search engine other than the ones inside individual stores. It's a very different business.

Not really, type shopify.com and let me know if you can buy a pair of shoes. You can't. You go to eBay and you can. Shopify is just the platform and the entire ecosystem supports the amount of transactions.

One of those is not like the others. I just went to Shopify.com and I can’t find anything for sale. Shopify is a SaaS platform not a marketplace.

What you’re missing is that comparing a company people have never heard of to a FAANG company generates clicks.

The seller side is the perspective that matters in this comparison. If you have wares to sell and want to start selling through the internet though a managed platform, amazon, ebay, etsy and shopify are competing options for you.

A main difference is shoppify you do still need to bring your own consumer traffic to your site, others have a captive audience of shoppers already, but will likely cost you more out of each sale because of that.

An article put forward by marketing. Not sure why many HNr's like this kind of article.

By no stretch Shopify is bigger than eBay, market cap is a game played by investors and this kind of article are used to boost it. If someone is holding Shopify stocks it will be the best time to sale.

Funny enough by this ridiculous metrics SAP's commerce cloud and Adobe's Magento will become the largest shopping site miles and miles ahead of shopify.

This kind of articles I believe are paid for to affect the stock prices to move market, I am sure it will result in large stock sales after increase in prices.

Shopify has consistently been loss making so it's very hard to see light at the end of tunnel given it is similar to many open source platform and commerce platform. It's just trying to outspend it's way to take over SAP, Adobe and Salesforce commerce offerings, let's see how long it continues.

Someone from shopify's marketing might be working to contain critical comments.

We really don't think these are good articles to be written about Shopify.

Shopify is a company that got big by totally being in the background and making other brands look good instead of itself. I fear what happened in the last little while is that we became too big to be ignored and the Shopify vs Amazon vs Ebay angle seems to be the most accessible angle for writing. It seems to be working though, for whatever reason this made it on Hacker news even though in the same week as this article was written we also bought a robotics company for $450m to automated warehouses and announced a $5m carbon sequestration fund which should really be appreciated on hacker news. Alas we talk about GMV number comparisons.

In fact the founder of YC and HN has an essay decrying this exact kind of article: http://paulgraham.com/submarine.html

But Shopify has no central search platform that I know of. The sites aren't connected to each other.

Why should they be connected to each other?

Tesla.com is powered by Shopify. They sell all of their vehicles through their site since they don't deal with dealerships.

Likewise Kylie Cosmetics is powered by Shopify. That's a billion dollar brand that's not going to be OK with being placed in a dusty corner of Amazon. They have enough brand value to drive their own audience through their own channels (Instagram, Snap, Twitter, etc).

> Tesla.com is powered by Shopify. They sell all of their vehicles through their site since they don't deal with dealerships.

While this may have been true in the past, it is no longer the case. Neither the main Tesla store/website [0] nor the merchandise store (for t-shirts, assorted knick-knacks, some chargers; basically everything except the cars) [1] use Shopify. You can validate by going to those websites and Ctrl-F through all of the sources of the webpage for "shopify". The main Tesla website uses Salesforce (Ctrl-F through the sources for "salesforce").

[0]: https://www.tesla.com (definitely Salesforce)

[1]: https://shop.tesla.com (it appears that Tesla rolled their own implementation of a store)

Fair and thank you for that updated information (I knew they were using it as recent as 2017 but didn't know they had changed it), but it still goes to show the types of companies being built on the Shopify platform versus the drop-shipping flea market bins of Amazon.

If you're building a real brand, you're building a relationship with your customers that you own. You're going to do it on your own terms because you can drive your own audience.

I feel that is likely coming at some point - but who knows... https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20411992

Also with the recent postal changes in the US I think that will hurt AliExpress, Banggood and help Shopify and Amazon.

Aren't most drop ship sites on shopify? I feel like every few articles and blog is "be a drop shipper" with those three simple services..

Drop shippers are on all e-commerce platforms, from the shopify 1-pagers to merchants on ebay and Amazon. It's saturated the entire market at this point.

They already did this, it didn't work, and it would be foolish to try again and join Amazon's race to the retail bottom. And there would almost certainly be no money in it until, you know, they beat Amazon at their own game.

Pretty sure Shopify's head is screwed-on straighter than that.

That makes it all the more impressive.

A central search platform for Shopify stores... you mean Google?

Hah! I laugh but getting found in Google is incredibly difficult compared to say selling the same produce on Etsy.

I don’t think that’s their intention. By being the anti-amazon, it’s about having each store be it’s own brand, supplying the backend plumbing infrastructure instead.

Indeed. I suspect Wordpress is bigger

Having not checked in on Shopify for a good few years, kudos to Tobias and his team for all they've achieved in growing to the level they have.

I still remember using liquid templates back in the early days of Rails as it was a problem no-one else in the space was really running at.

I had absolutely no idea they were making that kind of revenue these days. It's nice to see that hard work can still pay off.

I've built some stores for clients with Shopify's Slate[1] tool, which was a better dev experience than I had expected. I was pretty surprised and disappointed to see that they put it in "low maintenance" mode while still in beta. Hope they'll pick it up again soon.

[1] https://github.com/Shopify/slate

Does it really mean that Shopify is selling more than eBay? There are lots of indie entrepreneurs who open a site with shopify and pay for the Shopify subscription only to discover that they don't have nowhere near the the number of sales or even visitors they hoped.

No, this just means that Shopify has a high stock market valuation. This isn't looking at sales figures at all.

And since they just rent software to people who sell things I'm not sure it makes sense to compare them to more traditional eCommerce plays (if you started selling homes through Shopify somehow it would hugely increase "sold goods", but not in a way that impacts anything).

This article isn't clear about it but yes - its about the amount people sell on both platforms, not stock price.

Now, is that a useful basis of comparison? It's fun fact but not much more given the difference of the platforms.

Yeah, that's what I susp3too. It's is a bit of a hype.. I guess shopify will run out of "dreamers" in two years or so.. Then they probably go from flat to "pay per article" or so and call it better customer service and pricing :)

I have a niche e-commerce business I run mostly for fun, although it does make a decent profit vs. the time I put into it. I originally had woocommerce, a paid theme, digital ocean, MySQL, backups, stripe integration, etc. and honestly it was a hassle. I switched everything and now pay Shopify my $30 per month and don’t even think about it. $360 per year is pocket change vs. my stress level.

I have a bunch of old camera gear that I'd like to sell. I've been led to believe that on eBay, I'll very likely get scammed, and the customer support always sides with the scammer.

This doesn't concern the massive drop shippers operating 10k transactions per month, as they can easily eat the cost of the occasional scammer. It is very effective deterrent against casual sellers like me, though.

Ebay started out as "Yard sales, except on the internet", and nowadays it's more like Ali Express.

The only time I ever tried to sell some stuff on Ebay, I had a very weird experience. I put it up for auction with a minimum, and a week later someone won the auction at what I thought was a decent price. Then... they deleted their account instead of paying for the item. I raised the issue with Ebay, and they gave me a credit in the amount I had paid for the listing. So I listed it again, and someone won the auction once again ... and the same thing happened! They deleted their entire Ebay account instead of paying for the item they presumably had wanted to purchase.

At that point I gave up. I think I have $14 in Ebay seller credit still in my account from 10 years ago. My guess is that there was some kind of malfunction or someone was using a bot to bid on particular products. Weird experience. I've moved to selling stuff on Craigslist, and never had a problem with a sale.

Like a lot of things, sell through a reputable dealer (like KEH in the case of cameras). But you’ll get less that a non-scammy sale and they’ll be picky about what they’ll even take.

Amazon can also be easy and safe if they want what you want to sell. But you won’t get the best possible price. Still I’ve done it as the path of least resistance.

I’ve bought and sold a bunch of vintage camera stuff on eBay, and it’s mostly been okay. Just a hobby type thing for me. Not much in the last couple of years though. A couple of times there were minor issues. The fees really are bad, though.

You could try in person selling like on kijiji, I've sold a fair bit of stuff on there with no problem. I just meet in a public place (a nearby storefront) for safety.

They appear to take the environment seriously too, much like Stripe and some others.



eBay Q2 2019 GMV is $22.6 billion whereas Shopify's is $13.8 billion.

eBay also owns a classifieds business with around $250 million quarterly revenue which does not originate from GMV due to the nature of classifieds business.

Shopify is not enterprise ready. It’s designed for smaller self-managed stores. We recently looked into the platform to run a few large E-commerce stores. Two of the biggest issues are:

1. Payment processing. You’re forced to use their Shopify Payments. There’s no flexibility for managing that via API. Once something goes in there it’s stuck. Our particular requirement entails tokenized card info. And we needed to access the tokenized card for recurring orders. Shopify told us that was impossible. And want us to use one of the handful subscriptions app, which btw, also have no flexibility. We then hired a 3rd party to see if they can extend the cart...nada. So, if you already have an internal recurring/subscription system - trust me, Shopify will not work for your e-commerce platform. Dont waste your time.

2. Most of the apps are shady. We spoke with two regarding upsells and cross-sells, they couldn’t give us a clear answer if our customer data they collect will never be shared or sold.

The platform is for small self managed stores.

It definitely has an A+ front end, but the backend needs to be more flexibility for the enterprise.

Can I ask what sort of apps you were looking into?

So weird. Literally cannot remember if I've ever bought something from Shopify.

I think (?) that's intentional. I think the Shopify platform is generally branded as part of a company's website, and customers are generally unaware that Shopify was involved in the transaction. Which is sort of the polar opposite of the way Amazon works.

Precisely - Shopify is a white-label ecommerce platform, whereas ebay and amazon are walled gardens.

But you most likely might have bought something that was powered by Shopify. And Shopify wants to keep it that way.

That's how it is. I worked with Pixel Union, an agency which serves Shopify customers pretty much exclusively. They built British Columbia's online cannabis store on Shopify. They built countless online shoe stores for notable brands. Sunglasses, women's fashion, men's fashion, watches, rental services. None of them look like they have anything to do with Shopify.

Tesla uses Shopify to sell cars -- I'd bet that just a few relatively large companies are the cause of that huge revenue number. Doubly so if eBay only reports their actual cut of sales as revenue instead of the entire sale price.

Tesla doesn't actually use Shopify to sell cars – they sell merch and some parts through Shopify, IIRC.

Your point stands that Shopify's largest merchants make up a huge proportion of GMV, but it's not because of big ticket items like cars.

Almost all the "no-name" sales on Facebook are powered by Shopify. It does a wonderful job at being inconspicuous.

This is the first I've heard of it. Is this a thing with people under 21 or something?

It’s an e-commerce platform. It’s completely white label so you could buy from a Shopify website without ever knowing it.

The platform is only known by rubyist, this mean that you are either a javascript guy or a phpist one ;) ;) ;)

Sorry that private joke was to easy not to be made....

I didn’t become aware I had been shopping on Shopify-hosted sites until I created one.

You wouldn’t.

If you buy a Tesla online, for example, that’s a Shopify site.

Without a doubt, Shopify is an incredible platform for other's to build upon. It has generated commerce and contributed to Global GDP in so many ways

1) It is an E-comm platform for selling Goods & Services

2) It is an app development platform that allows other businesses to be built on top of it with sites and apps (ie- the apps are integrated to manage distribution, inventory, warehousing, invoicing, marketing, CRM, etc)

As an example, Bold Commerce has become a significant company because of the Shopify platform. They are the largest developer of custom Shopify apps and sites in the world – they recently raised $16.5M (USD) to scale further

Overall, Shopify processes a huge amount of GMV through the platform and, of that, its Net Revenue is still in the Billions each quarter. The article may be misleading to some, given the headline, but Shopify has a significant impact on the economy globally.

Note: Ruby on Rails cannot scale /sarcasm

Well, you are assuming that the platform doesn't have any technology challenges or significant issues and/or drawbacks that might stem from the technology and current architecture.

Hint: There is plenty of stuff like that.

What about chinese websites like tmall or taobao? They seems to have more visitors than Amazon, do they have less sales?

Really? and what about Aliexpress? I think it could be on the top 5...

This had to happen as they are one of the mordern providers for shopping. Ebay is old, still one of the top sites but OLD!!!

Shopify's stock has been on an incredible tear. I think it's 3x'd since the beginning of the year? And 10x'd in maybe 2.

You could’ve quickly and easily checked. Not 3x with the price drop in past month or two. And 10x would be over 3 years ago. 2 years ago is close to 3x to 4x.

Shopify seems like something that should have been done 15 years ago. It is just a website that allows anyone to set up a digital storefront for a monthly fee. The fee part is the most lucrative. Most people set up the store and sell little or nothing and forget to cancel , so Shopify keeps printing $ from the recurring subs, much like AOL does.

This very website exists because this very thing was done 25 years ago!


They also power a large number of real businesses too.

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