Shopify Inc. signage is seen at the entrance to the company’s headquarters in Toronto. (Photographer: Kevin Van Paassen/Bloomberg)

Shopify CEO Says Amazon Is Encroaching on Its Turf

(Bloomberg) -- The head of Shopify Inc. said Amazon is encroaching on its turf -- and it’s confident it can compete.

“They are creating products now that help small businesses market their products better which is frankly the space we are in,” Tobias Lutke, chief executive officer of Ottawa-based Shopify, said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg TV at a tech conference in Toronto.

While Amazon.com Inc. is “the most powerful and agile and probably ambitious company in the world,” Lutke said he’s “welcoming competition” in the space and is “very confident” in Shopify’s ability to adapt.

Shopify, which provides online stores for more than 600,000 businesses, is emphasizing its role as a partner rather than a competitor to differentiate itself from Amazon. Many online merchants want their products on Amazon because it’s the busiest shopping platform, but they’re also wary of being too dependent on the Seattle-based company which also makes its own products. EBay Inc. and PayPal Holdings Inc. also market themselves as a “friend rather than a foe.”

Lutke sees opportunities in the burgeoning cannabis market with recreational cannabis set to be legalized across Canada next month. Various provinces have already selected Shopify to run their e-commerce websites and the company has also signed deals with marijuana companies like Canopy Growth Corp.

“We see it similar to prohibition going away,” Lutke said. “It will probably never, ever happen again to anyone in the retail space that suddenly overnight, that there’s a completely new product space in the market.”

Shopify hopes to create an orderly roll-out of cannabis sales and that other countries can look to Canada as example.

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