The ecommerce platform provider this week launched Gift A Business to encourage consumers to buy ecommerce sites for friends or family.

More consumers are stuck at home during the recent surge of the coronavirus pandemic. And ecommerce platform provider Shopify is betting the extra time on their hands will prompt some consumers to stop procrastinating and follow that business dream they have long talked about. To capitalize on this, Shopify this week launched Gift A Business to encourage consumers to buy an ecommerce site for friends or family this holiday season.

The “businesses” are ecommerce sites, which sell on Exchange, Shopify’s marketplace where consumers can buy and sell Shopify stores. The sites start at $50. The Exchange marketplace lists more than 10,000 stores in various niches, such as fashion, beauty, art, home decor, automotive and technology, a Shopify spokeswoman says. Shopify launched Exchange in 2017. Shopify won’t disclose how many stores are bought and sold on Exchange in an average month, but the Gift a Business promotion is an extension of  the already active Exchange marketplace.

“This is an idea we’ve thought about for years,” the spokeswoman says. “We know that family plays a big role in the success of an aspiring entrepreneur, and so we wanted to help close the gap by encouraging parents, spouses, siblings or even friends to show support for someone’s entrepreneurial dream.”

Gift recipients will receive a Shopify starter pack for entrepreneurs, a business certificate, a subscription credit to help with Shopify fees to maintain their stores and five e-books about entrepreneurship.

Stores listed on Exchange are premade. Either a professional developer created the store or a merchant decided to sell their store. Each store comes with products pre-loaded, images and a complete website. The stores for sale that are a part of Gift a Business range in price from $50 to $250.

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$50 gets gift-givers an ecommerce site that an entrepreneur can start marketing immediately. Shoppers can pay more for stores with extras such as an already existing storefront with brand equity, traffic and customers. Once a store is purchased, the new owners can add other products and modify any aspect of the store. However, because  the stores come predesigned, the new owner can work on promoting his business quickly because most of the groundwork has already been laid, the spokeswoman says.

Shopify merchants who want to sell their stores can list them through the Exchange app, which pulls information like traffic and revenue data from Shopify. Sellers can’t edit their store data, which means interested buyers can feel secure knowing that the business information is accurate, Shopify writes in a blog post. While “starter stores” start at $50, established six-figure ecommerce businesses can sell for more than $1 million. Starter stores have generated less than $100 in sales and traffic and revenue data won’t appear for them.

Each Exchange listing contains a description of what a buyer gets with the store and an asking price, which buyers can negotiate with the seller by sending them a message through the contact form. Many sellers will also list their reason for selling the store, which is often a lack of time or a life-changing event, Shopify says.

Many sites for sale offer things like physical inventory, supplier lists, email lists, logo and branding assets, social media accounts, support after the sale, domains and product photos.

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Since the Gift a Business program launched on Monday, at least one consumer has purchased a fashion store for her sister, the spokeswoman says. Exchange’s customer support team, many of whom are business owners themselves, provide guidance or answers to questions entrepreneurs may have about the process of launching a new store, she adds.

Shopify is the No. 4 provider of ecommerce platforms to the Digital Commerce 360 2020 Top 1000 with 38 Top 1000 retailer clients including shoe retailer Allbirds (No. 337) and lingerie retailer ThirdLove (No. 295).

And the vendor is benefiting from the pandemic. Shopify says its U.S. merchants had Black Friday-type traffic in the months after the coronavirus was deemed a national emergency in the U.S. on March 13. For its third quarter ended Sept. 30, revenue at Shopify nearly doubled to $767.4 million. Gross merchandise volume—a measure of product sales flowing through its platform—was $30.9 billion, an increase of 109% over the third quarter of last year, reflecting strong ecommerce spending by consumers, Shopify said.

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