Shopify Aims to Make Stores Lean, Mean Retailing Machines

Shopify wants its merchants to shoot for the clouds.

The Canadian retail technology company has struck a new raft of partnerships with Microsoft, Oracle and other cloud providers to help Shopify stores soup up their operations.

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Announced Thursday, the deal brings enterprise resource planning, or ERP, tools to the platform. Such tools are often used by large organizations, creating efficiencies by tying into inventory control, finance and other back-end systems.

According to Mark Bergen, vice president of Shopify, the platform “supports businesses during all stages of their journeys, from first sale to full scale.” Indeed, more than 10,000 merchants of various sizes use Shopify Plus service to set up stores, manage their volume and wrangle other operations, including brands like Allbirds, Gymshark and Lord & Taylor.

As it was, making various systems work together had been more of a piecemeal affair connected through third-party services and apps. Now, they’ll be able to take up Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Oracle NetSuite, Infor, Acumatica or Brightpearl directly integrated inside the Shopify ecosystem. That’s just the start, as the company plans to expand the list of providers over time.

The company also introduced a Shopify Global ERP Program, an extension of its Shopify Plus Certified App Partner Program, that allows these and future ERP partners to build direct integrations and launch them in the Shopify App Store.

“Joining forces with Shopify to integrate Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central will help more merchants deliver great experiences to their customers by seamlessly linking commerce and ERP,” said Charles Lamanna, corporate vice president, Microsoft business applications and platform.

“At a time when merchants need to harness data everywhere to transform the shopping experience, we’re excited to connect data between ERP and commerce,” he added. “Innovation begins with data-fueled insights and more connected operations will help merchants take the industry into the future.”

Shopify believes that if merchants better connect their workflows, it will allow them to make data-informed decisions, have more control over the data and allow for more automations, saving them time and money.

From the partners’ perspective, the move may be a bid to stanch Amazon’s mammoth and growing cloud business. Amazon Web Services has become a critical part of the e-tail giant’s operation, fueling more than $13.5 billion in operating profits last year — nearly two-thirds of the whole company’s profits over the entirety of 2020.

Andy Jassy, Jeff Bezos’ successor as Amazon’s chief executive officer, hails from the AWS division, running it until his promotion this summer — giving the industry reason to believe that the company’s cloud pursuits will remain a continuing driver for the company.

By joining forces with Shopify, Microsoft, Oracle and the others suddenly gain access to millions of merchants. As of its second-quarter earnings report, Shopify counted more than 1.7 million businesses on its platform worldwide. Results for the third quarter will be reported in two weeks.

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