Shopify, the software platform created to make it easier for small businesses to sell online, is being used increasingly by some of the world’s biggest stars to sell merchandise and connect with fans.
In July, Taylor Swift launched her Eras Tour merchandise shop on Shopify
Also this summer, Shopify promoted its Shop app in a collaboration with another musical superstar – Drake – in connection with his highly anticipated concert tour.
Shopify and Drake’s team came up with a plan to shine a signal on the walls of the stadiums and venues where Drake was performing to alert fans to giveaways. The projected signal contained a geo-fenced QR code that connected fans with the Drake Related store on the Shop app. Fans who scanned the QR code and entered their shipping details received surprise gifts of yet-to-be released Drake merchandise, such as his NOCTA sneakers, and in some cases, cash.
Last month, YouTube celebrity Jimmy Donaldson – better known as MrBeast – collaborated on an event that drew hundreds of fans to the Shopify event space in Manhattan for a scavenger hunt to win cash and prizes, as well as free samples of MrBeast’s chocolate line, Feastables.
These examples illustrate how Shopify, in particular with the Shop app, is expanding the boundaries of e-commerce, and creating new challenges for traditional retailers.
“Shopify is working with brands to create incredible unique experiences that customers are absolutely raving about,” Finkelstein said in a earnings conference call with investors this month.
The Shopify platform has evolved, he said, to the point where it “ideally positions us at the epicenter of the future of commerce, unleashing new ways for merchants to engage and drive authentic connections with their customers.”
In the past, sales of celebrity-branded merchandise depended largely on getting licensing deals with manufacturers and winning the right placements at major retailers. Now, celebrities can connect directly with fans through their own Shopify stores, and find those fans, and sell to them, on social media, and as the Drake collaboration showed, in person at events and concert venues.
The Drake Related QR-code merchandise drops created “huge hype at every tour stop with people starting to crowd around for the drop after the show,” Finkelstein said. In one instance, Finkelstein delivered Drake’s Nike
Drake was an early adopter of the Shopify platform. Soon after launching his record label, October’s Very Own (OVO
His team recently has been taking advantage of a new Shopify offering, Shopify Collective, that allows Shopify stores such as Drake Related to feature products from other independent brands that it wants to collaborate with.
Lindsay Craig, Director of Brand at Shopify, in an interview described Shopify Collective as a retail version of how musicians such as Drake collaborating with other musicians, or sampling their work on albums. Now, Drake, as a e-commerce retailer, is giving shoutouts to other brands.
Shopify Collective lets a store like Drake Related feature products by entrepreneurs without having to handle the logistics of actually selling and shipping the merchandise, which is taken care of by Shopify, through the entrepreneur’s own Shopify store, Craig said.
“It lets Drake share his Drake Related platform and audience,” Craig said. “We’ve seen some really cool examples of him shining a spotlight on up and coming entrepreneurs, and making a life changing difference because he’s willing to share Drake Related with them,” she said.
Aaron Aragonez, Director of E-commerce for Drake Related, said in an emailed reply that the Shop App and Shopify Collective have “allowed us to forge deeper connections with fans and like-minded brands.”
“These tools have allowed us to enhance our community engagement, deliver remarkable experiences, and showcase our favorite brands, much like artist featuring other artists in their collaborations,” Aragonez said.
The Drake Related QR-code merchandise drops have caused other brands and creators to reach out about creating their own experiences through Shopify, Craig said.
Last month, Bad Bunny did an early access drop exclusively on the Shop app for his latest Adidas sneaker.
“We’re going to keep doing more and more exclusives like that,” Craig said.
“It’s been so much fun to see how technology can really empower these artists to connect with their fans in new ways,” Craig said. “We’re really building culture through commerce.”