The e-commerce platform provider opened a physical location yesterday in an area in Los Angeles that’s home to small and emerging merchants. We got a tour of Shopify LA, which offers free help for Shopify businesses and general information about Shopify.

Los Angeles is home to many emerging merchant entrepreneurs, and many of those startups use Shopify for both their e-commerce platforms and for their bricks-and-mortar point-of-sale systems. That’s a big reason why the vendor chose Los Angeles for its first bricks-and-mortar location, Shopify LA, which opened yesterday, Satish Kanwar, vice president of product for Shopify, told Internet Retalier while giving our reporter a tour of the shop just before its grand opening.

Los Angeles is home to about 10,000 Shopify Inc. clients, and California hosts about 80,000 of the vendor’s 600,000 merchants, Kanwar says. Additionally, the city hosts more than 400 Shopify merchants who have each accumulated more than $1 million in gross merchandise value, Shopify says.

The new Shopify LA provides free, in-person support from 20 trained Shopify gurus, many of whom are Shopify merchants themselves, Kanwar says. It will offer workshops at least weekly that can accommodate around 50 entrepreneurs and will cover various topics ranging from product photography to paid search advertising to organic marketing. The location also will offer smaller classes each day that can accommodate around 10 people, and shoppers can set up appointments for one-on-one help as well.

Shoppers can sign up for sessions on Shopify’s new site dedicated to the space. Merchants and anyone interested in learning more about Shopify also can walk in any time to ask questions or learn more, Kanwar said. The building’s hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific on weekends.

“We’ve always offered free, 24-hour customer support, and we’ve had pop-up educational events, but we wanted to open a community hub to support, educate and inspire the LA community and to lower the barrier for entrepreneurs to get started,” Kanwar says, adding that all of the workshops and classes are fully booked up so far. He also envisions the location to be a place where entrepreneurs can meet, collaborate and work on their businesses.

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Shopify’s new location is located in ROW DTLA, a commercial center housing 100 businesses, including small retailers and restaurants. Many of the merchants in the center use Shopify for their e-commerce and store point-of-sale operations, Kanwar says.

Shopify LA also showcases the company’s 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 can learn how the reader works and take it home with them, Kanwar says. Merchants using a POS system can benefit from managing their web and store sales in one spot, and the reader battery can last for a week on one charge.

Shopify began shipping its store POS system in the summer of 2017. Fees start at 2.4% per transaction. More than 70,000 Shopify merchants use the POS system, Kanwar says. OMAMImini, a merchant in ROW DTLA that sells high-end children’s clothing, uses Shopify for its store POS system and e-commerce site, says co-founder Ola Omami. Shopify was the only system she could find that could easily integrate online and offline sales reporting for a reasonable fee, and she’s very happy with it, she says.

Shopify LA also features a dedicated print-on-demand space from custom printing provider Printful that allows merchants to test out custom prints of their designs on clothing and accessories to see how they look, avoiding the need to pre-order samples to see them in person. About 65% of Los Angeles-based Shopify merchants sell apparel, Kanwar says.

Shopify has 32 e-commerce platform retail clients in the Internet Retailer Top 1000, ranking it No. 5 among platform providers to the group. In an August 2018 Internet Retailer survey of 183 merchants, 20% of merchants looking to switch e-commerce platforms are most strongly considering Shopify, the No. 1 vendor response.

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“There’s lots of places you can go to file your taxes or fix your laptop,” Kanwar says. “But there’s no place like this where you can get help with your e-commerce business.”