Shopify CMO Jeff Weiser on international growth and cannabis ads
Shopify has become the shining star in the d-to-c space, helping brands not only with their operational e-commerce sales, but also marketing and customer acquisition. Shopify CMO Jeff Weiser recently met up with Ad Age during Advertising Week to discuss the platform’s latest moves, such as a new focus on international growth, launching its first marketing campaign and opening up its tools to CBD sellers.
This year, Weiser says the Ontario-based company is focusing more on powering its international business, a “key engine of growth” for the company. In the first-quarter of 2019, international was Shopify’s fastest-growing segment, according to the company. Currently, 24 percent of Shopify’s 820,000 merchants (roughly 197,000 merchants) operate outside of the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia. In total, its merchants are located in 175 countries, and Shopify has 4,000 employees in 15 cities and remote locations around the world. In doing so, Shopify is working on building out its platform in even more languages than the 18 it currently offers.
Shopify is likely to become the second-largest U.S. e-commerce platform behind Amazon. In September, financial services company R.W. Baird wrote that Shopify is poised to pass eBay in terms of merchant sales volume (Shopify is now worth $40 billion, while eBay is valued at $34 billion), and forecast that the number of sellers using the platform is expected to rise to 1 million by the end of the year.
Shopify's growth led the company to launch its first advertising campaign in April. The company worked with R/GA on a campaign called “Let’s Make You a Business,” which included TV, digital, radio, social and out-of-home across 10 North American cities.
“As I came in as a new CMO, and understood the company’s stated intention to build a 100-year-old company that’s really here for the long-term, we realized that over that time period, we really need to become a household name,” says Weiser, who has been in his role for nearly two years.
Shopify has also made enhancements in the past year. It added on the ability to buy Facebook and Google ads directly through its platform and, most recently in September, opened up its platform to CBD sellers, despite recent consumer safety concerns like marijuana-spiked CBD vape pens.
“The laws on CBD in the U.S. are changing quickly and so, we’ll always be on top of what those changes are,” says Weiser. “The important distinction we make is that Shopify didn’t get into CBD, CBD got into retail.” He points to a BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research projection that states the CBD market could reach $20 billion by 2024.