Shopify customer acquisition

Shopify’s star wanes. Is Apple’s iOS tracking the guilty party? What about Missfresh?

Shopify is a cloud based ecommerce platform designed for small and medium businesses. Want to start selling online without the hassles of coding and setting up merchant solutions? Take a look at Shopify.

Shopify is not a minnow. It has sales over $4.5b, makes over 53% gross margin and for the last 2 years has been EDITDA positive. It has experienced spectacular growth, especially during the pandemic as everyone and anyone shifted resources to online.

Photo: Roberto Cortese

Many small exporters have reached customers thousands of miles away thanks to Shopify’s ready made solutions.

Late in July, Shopify’s CEO suddenly announced retrenchments.

We bet that the channel mix – the share of dollars that travel through ecommerce rather than physical retail – would permanently leap ahead by 5 or even 10 years….It’s now clear that bet didn’t pay off. What we see now is the mix reverting to pre-Covid. Still growing steadily, but it wasn’t a meaningful 5-year leap ahead.

CEO Shopify, July 2022 (edited for clarity)

At this time, Shopify reported slower than anticipated revenue growth for the second quarter, swinging to an operating loss.

Last year at this time all the stock market analysts surveyed by the FT rated Shopify as either ‘buy’ or ‘over perform’. In January the stock was C$150 it now languishes around C$50.

Shopify’s woes are not an outlier. Facebook, Snap, Twitter and YouTube are estimated to  have lost over $18b in revenue this year.

One small exporter interviewed by the FT claimed the cost of customer acquisition has risen 3x since Apple’s new iOS privacy settings were implemented. The new ‘transparency settings’ have changed shopping habits and merchants’ advertising spend, the repercussions hitting operators like Shopify.

Whilst it’s tempting to blame these woes entirely on Apple, the financial markets have not always been prescient. Chinese e-grocery delivery group Missfresh has just collapsed – it only IPO-ed last year.

Photo: Technode