BL&T No. 161: Shopify Enterprise Partner Summit & Dollar Shave Club's Shopify Story


This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Borrowed, Learned, & Thought. BL&T is sent weekly on Mondays. In every edition, I share lessons learned in agency leadership, life, and e-commerce. This post does not include all the details shared in the newsletter sent via email. Subscribe here.


"Learning to be flexible in our approach to both manufacturing and selling grew out of our willingness to innovate in order to meet our customers’ needs."

From "Authentic: A Memoir by the Founder of Vans" by Paul Van Doren [Book]

Learned & Thought

I was in LA last week for the Shopify Enterprise Partner Summit with our CTO, Wes. Also getting to meet up with my long-time friend Kyle was a nice bonus for my first trip away from my newborn, Mylo (who is currently asleep on my chest in a carrier). Props to my wife Dana for holding down the fort.

It was nice to spend time with Wes, reconnect with many of our ecosystem partners in person, and hear from Shopify leadership about what's in store for the future. Here is a 10,000-foot view of what I heard from Shopify last week:

  • Shopify has proven itself as a turnkey e-commerce solution for small and growing businesses. Now, that success is extending into the enterprise market, with notable brands driving over $125 million in GMV. In a landscape where big businesses are honing in on efficiency and return on investment, Shopify is perfectly aligned with this vision.
  • But Shopify is not trying to keep up with the Joneses; they're redesigning the entire neighborhood. They aim to revolutionize how we perceive and engage in e-commerce. It's about more than matching features offered by platforms like CommerceTools, Big Commerce, or Salesforce Commerce Cloud. It's about pushing boundaries, unlocking new possibilities, and taking commerce to a new level.
  • As Shopify continues to grow and cater to larger enterprises, they recognize the need for advanced functionality. Anticipate ongoing innovation across various fronts, including personalization, international market expansion, staging, payments, new APIs, inventory & fulfillment, and compliance.
  • The concept of "unified commerce" came to life in Shopify's Summer Edition feature release and remained a recurring theme last week. From an enhanced BOPIS functionality to robust B2B and POS capabilities, Shopify is investing in building a complete commerce solution, seamlessly managed through an all-in-one admin interface.

As with most of these events, the Summit was a welcome reminder of the talented people behind the tools, agencies, and partnerships and what we can accomplish when we collaborate and learn from each other. I enjoyed getting to know many new folks, sharing insights, and even breaking a sweat with a Barry's class on Tuesday morning.

Dollar Shave Club x Shopify

There was one presentation in particular that stood out to me. It was a discussion between Shopify's VP of Product, Glen Coates, and Dollar Shave Club's Chief Digital Officer, Ranil Wiratunga, about their in-progress journey migrating to Shopify.

Over the years, we've learned it's not enough to show brands how Shopify can elevate their business; taking time to understand the internal team's processes and the impact of change, for better or worse, is also critical. Having been with Dollar Shave Club for many years, Wiratunga offered a unique perspective on what it meant to transition to Shopify and how the change has positively impacted the team.

I enjoyed getting an insider's look at a discussion we're constantly having with clients. Below are some key themes from the Dollar Shave Club story.

  1. Differentiating without bespoke tech: In the early days, Dollar Shave Club's bespoke tech was a differentiator, but in time, the market caught up. Much of what they had built custom was now turnkey for emerging brands, leaving DSC with tech debt and heavy maintenance. A technology transformation became essential for staying competitive and meeting evolving customer needs.
  2. Reducing maintenance: DSC's internal team spent roughly 40% of their time on pure website maintenance for over a decade. While transitioning to Shopify meant reshaping their roles, it also meant freeing them to focus on higher-value activities.
  3. A different kind of pride of ownership: DSC quickly became a market leader when it launched and was known more as a tech company than a brand. Internally, this translated to a strong sense of ownership over the product and technology among the team. Transitioning to Shopify initially felt like a hit to a strong company culture but was later seen as an opportunity for growth and skills development vs. routine work.
  4. More time for innovation: 90% of the DSC team had never touched Shopify, but as they dug in, they found it more empowering than limiting. Moving to Shopify meant having more time to focus on the right things, concentrating on strategic initiatives rather than getting bogged down by simple requests like setting up a new payment method.
  5. Shipping faster and smarter: DSC has improved its pace and efficiency. While initiatives such as launching new features, entering new markets, and broadening product categories still require a team effort, the shift has allowed for increased focus on internal alignment, strategic planning, and rigorous testing.

At the end of the discussion, I appreciated how Coates asked Wiratunga for any feedback for Shopify or challenges during the migration. Wiratunga touched on two areas (both of which are on Shopify's radar).

  • Shopify has continually grown the list of what's available for different permission levels, but there's still no way to bundle up specific permissions and create unique roles.
  • It would be helpful to have a dev environment to experiment with new features, platform integrations, etc., and give the team more confidence in going live with updates.


The E-Commerce Corner

See here for e-commerce insights. Back next week.

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