mergers & acquisitions | Oct 29, 2021 |
Shopify makes a major design industry acquisition

Shopify, the Canadian e-commerce juggernaut, has acquired Eporta, a U.K.–based tech company dedicated to digital commerce for the design trade. A price was not disclosed.

“We’ve always believed that technology has the ability to reshape B2B commerce. Joining Shopify means we can accelerate this mission and work at a much greater scale,” wrote Eporta founder Aneeqa Khan in a note on the company’s website announcing the news. “We are excited to combine our experience with Shopify’s scale and expertise, helping make commerce better for everyone.”

Shopify, a platform that allows merchants to power their own e-commerce, is likely a familiar name. Over the past few years the company has grown exponentially as an alternative for vendors who want to sell online but don’t want to go through marketplaces, particularly Amazon. The COVID shift towards online shopping has only fueled the growth. At the end of 2020, Shopify had 1.7 million merchants moving $119.6 billion worth of goods annually, and its stock price had skyrocketed tenfold since 2019.

Eporta will be less familiar to American readers. Founded by Khan in 2015, the company operates mostly in Europe. It consists of two separate but related businesses: The first is an online marketplace where designers and retailers can buy direct from brands like Flos, Moooi and Moroso at trade or wholesale prices; the second is a software tool called TradeHub that allows brands to power their e-commerce operations from their own sites.

Though Shopify didn’t issue a press release around the acquisition, it would be reasonable to assume they’re most interested in the software component—especially given Eporta’s notice to customers a few weeks ago that activity on the marketplace side of the business would be shutting down. Shopify recently announced that it would move to specifically target B2B customers in 2022, and although its platform is already used by many brands in the design world—albeit frequently with custom modifications to make it work for the peculiarities of the trade—it only makes sense that Shopify would acquire a suite of tools tailor-made for the industry.

The news has an echo in recent events. Only two months ago, the Adam Sandow–owned sampling platform Material Bank announced the acquisition of Clippings, another U.K.–based tech company that, like Eporta, has both a marketplace and a SaaS business. At the time, Sandow told Business of Home he was mostly interested in the software side of Clippings, and that he was looking to create a design industry version of Shopify. Now Shopify itself has a tool created for the design world. The Eporta acquisition sets up both companies—Material Bank and Shopify—for what may prove to be a heated competition to become the de facto e-commerce tool for the industry.

Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that Shopify is an American company. Shopify is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada.

Homepage photo: ©JHVEPhoto/Adobe Stock

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