Canadian e-commerce platform Shopify Inc. says gross merchandise volume, (GMV) the total amount of goods and services sold through Shopify, grew 69% in the third quarter from a year earlier to $6.4 billion.
Shopify is the e-commerce platform vendor for 23 retailers in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 1000, according to Top500Guide.com. It earns money from subscriptions to its platform and fees for services like managing inventories and processing payments. It works with more than 500,000 businesses in 175 countries.
The 69% growth is a slowdown from the previous quarter when GMV grew by 74%.
Shopify’s revenue beat analysts’ estimates for the 10th consecutive quarter. The vendor also raised its full-year outlook and recorded an operating profit ahead of schedule. But the shares tumbled as analysts homed in on a slowdown in growth of gross merchandise volume. Executives also dampened sales expectations for the first quarter of next year as the company becomes more cyclical.
Shares for Shopify, based in Ottawa, fell to as low as $94.51 in New York today. It was the biggest drop since Oct. 4, when shortseller Citron Research cast doubts about the company’s prospects.
In the third quarter chief financial officer Russ Jones said the decrease came because Shopify is becoming a more seasonal business, and it will increase again over the busy holiday season. He also noted that international merchants are becoming a bigger part of the business, and most of them are just getting off the ground.
While Jones said the company expects a strong fourth quarter, he also cautioned that the pace may not be sustainable into early next year.
“While they have beaten on the top line every quarter since going public, all eyes are waiting for them to show how that revenue growth plays out,” Nikhil Thadani, an analyst at Mackie Research Capital Corporation, says.
Also overshadowing the results was a recent report by short seller Citron Research alleging that most of Shopify’s smaller customers were failing and that growth would eventually grind to a halt.
CEO Tobi Lutke shot back at the criticisms from Citron founder Andrew Left on a call with analysts, calling him a “troll” and saying his claims were “preposterous.”
Lutke said “hundreds of thousands” of Shopify customers were thriving on the platform. “We are thriving along with them,” he said. Lutke pointed to the fact that more than half of total revenue comes from services revenue, which comes from merchants using Shopify’s payments and shipping tools, a sign that shows there is real and sustainable sales activity on the platform.
Still, the company didn’t provide new hard numbers that some investors were asking for, such as how many customers leave the platform each quarter. Left had also said Shopify’s marketing tactics promised people they could get rich off the platform, a claim Lutke said was untrue.
“We do not promise merchant success, far from it,” he said. “In fact, most of our content is about how hard entrepreneurship is, because it is hard.”
Shopify, which provides tools for merchants to sell online through their own websites and multiple third-party marketplaces including Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc., has been the best performing stock on Canada’s benchmark equity index this year, gaining 155% this year through Monday.
The company generated $171.5 million in sales in the quarter ending Sept. 30, topping the average analyst projection of $166.5 million. Shopify also reported adjusted earnings per share of 5 cents, beating estimates for a loss of 2 cents.
“These are good numbers in our view,” said Kevin Krishnaratne, an analyst at Paradigm Capital said. “We would be buying the stock on any weakness.”
Earlier this month Shopify began working with international shipping provider DHL to offer small businesses using Shopify what it says are lower global shipping rates. More than 10% of Shopify packages are shipped internationally, Shopify says.
In April it launched Shopify Pay, an online and in-person payment method for Shopify merchants. Shopify Pay enables shoppers to store their card information with any Shopify merchant and then pay without reentering their payment data at any retailer that uses Shopify as its e-commerce platform, says Satish Kanwar, vice president of product for Shopify.
When a shopper who has signed up for Shopify Pay checks out at another Shopify merchant, Shopify will recognize via her email address that the consumer has registered for Shopify Pay. It then notifies the shopper that she can check out using her saved payment data and sends a verification code to her mobile phone, which she can enter to check out using Shopify Pay and check out in two steps.
In April Kanwar said consumers check out 40% faster, on average, when using Shopify Pay. Merchants that have tested Shopify Pay for the web and mobile web are reporting an 18% increase in conversions on average, he said.
Shopify in April also launched a mobile wireless payment card reader that is free for Shopify merchants and accepts both swipe and chip-based card payments by attaching to Google Android and Apple iOS devices. Merchants using the reader can benefit from managing their web and store sales in one spot, Shopify says. The reader battery can last a week on one charge.
Other announcements this year include:
- LaunchPad: An app for Shopify Plus merchants that enables retailers to schedule and launch flash sales. LaunchPad provides immediate analytics of flash-sale events as they are going on, including total sales, orders placed, average order value and inventory levels. Shopify Plus is the vendor’s e-commerce platform for larger merchants that sell more than $1 million online annually.
- Wholesale: A B2B platform that allows Shopify customers to run wholesale operations. Clients can set prices, bulk discounts and shipping rules for each wholesale customer.
- Flow: Flow enables merchants to automate their back-end systems. For example, with Flow, retailers can automatically change shipping rates for high-volume customers or provide rule-based discounts, such as offering $20 off to shoppers who have purchased more than three times in the past six months.
- Mobile store builder: More than 69% of online store visits to Shopify merchants come from mobile devices, Shopify says. Mobile store builder helps merchants create mobile commerce apps that integrate with Shopify Plus stores without requiring coding.
- Integration with BuzzFeed: Shopify’s BuzzFeed channel allows merchants to easily tag products for BuzzFeed editors to search, find, and consider featuring in its campaigns, product lists and website content.