Conscious Consumerism Is Taking Roots: Shopify President

Entrepreneurs will be the force in rebuilding economies all over the world, Harley Finkelstein said

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By Prabhjeet Bhatla

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COVID-19 forced many retailers and consumers to rethink how they sell and shop. It left millions of Americans unemployed and looking for ways to earn income. This accelerated shift to digital commerce has led to a boost in sales for Shopify.

Shopify, the marquee e-commerce solution in the market, helps over 1 million businesses in more than 175 countries around the globe start, grow and scale their business online and offline. No matter the platform, Finkelstein says people are turning their side hustles into full-time jobs and that it is even more critical to innovate and build the tools merchants need to succeed.

Harley Finkelstein, president, Shopify, one of the world's biggest online commerce enablers, firmly believes the future of retail is not online or offline or on social media. The future of retail is everywhere, he said, adding that conscious consumerism is here to stay, as the COVID-19 pandemic altered consumer inclinations in a very solid and enduring way that never would have been predicted before.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has not only aggravated merchants to look at diverse ways of selling but also altered the way buyers shop and think about product pricing and brands," said Finkelstein while speaking at the Resurgence TiEcon Delhi-NCR online conclave on Wednesday.

Finkelstein mapped a few resounding changes in consumer predispositions caused by the pandemic as buyers today prefer to buy from self-governing, small businesses whenever probable.

He also believes consumers are making conscious decisions to shop from local businesses and are more likely to buy sustainable products that promote themselves as conscious sellers.

"Conscious consumerism is going to be a staple in consumer preferences now. We are not going back to consumers saying they are going to buy something because it's affordable," he shared.

"Merchants too have changed the way they are thinking about e-commerce. Closures of brick and mortar shops have led to shoppers going online for their purchases—whether it's on a marketplace platform, an independent website, or social media shops. For retailers to successfully tap their target market, they need to understand their customers better," he further explained during the session.

Finkelstein champions to adopt a mobile-first approach right as India has millions of young consumers, and appealing to a younger demographic is most important for emerging brands.

"I truly believe that the future of commerce is not online or offline marketplaces or Snapchat or Instagram, it's everywhere; it's where the consumer wants to buy," he added.

The 35-year-old entrepreneur promotes the idea of testing your product with an audience that knows what you are talking about, understand your brand and define your brand identity.

Create a tribe of people that are doing the same thing you are trying to do so you can share your stories and experiences with them, as well as learn from them, said the Canadian businessman.

"India has an innovative tech ecosystem, friendly government policies for small businesses, and buyers that are receptive to emerging brands. For people building right now, the aim should be to start at home, grow, adapt and understand the product-market fit, and then go global using those learnings," he concluded.

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