Shopify president says pandemic sped up shift to online shopping by 10 years

Harley Finkelstein, COO, Shopify
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Few companies were as well-positioned for a global pandemic as Shopify.

Founded in 2006 to help physical retailers establish a web presence, Shopify offers easy-to-deploy cloud software so small businesses don't have to do the heavy lifting of going digital. When Covid-19 forced stores to shudder, Shopify's technology suddenly became essential.

Shopify shares have more than doubled this year, boosting the company's market cap to $118 billion. That puts it about even with Zoom and behind only Salesforce among pure cloud-software companies and Microsoft and Adobe, if you include legacy vendors that have transitioned to the cloud. It's also the most valuable company in Canada, just ahead of the Royal Bank of Canada.

Now, Shopify is gearing up for its busiest season of the year, or what Harley Finkelstein, the company's president, calls "our Super Bowl" — Thanksgiving weekend. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday three days later, Americans traditionally do a huge amount of their holiday shopping. Shopify even has an acronym for the long weekend — BFCM.

Because so many brick-and-mortar stores remain closed, with coronavirus cases spiking across wide swaths of the U.S., Shopify is expecting the 2020 shopping rush to be like none before it. According to eMarketer, retail sales on Black Friday are expected to surge 39% from last year to over $10 billion, while Cyber Monday is projected to see a 38% increase to almost $13 billion.

Finkelstein sat down with CNBC via video chat last week to talk about the wild year for the company and what Shopify expects over the holidays.

Here's the full Q&A: