August 28, 2013, 10:23 AM

E-commerce software provider Shopify introduces an iPad selling app

A shoe retailer no longer loses orders from having the wrong inventory count.

Lead Photo

The Shopify POS app on an iPad.

E-commerce platform provider Shopify has launched a new mobile point-of-sale technology that allows a retailer to take in-store payments and manage in one place its offline and online payments, product catalogs, and inventories, the company announced today.

Shopify POS is an iPad app that retailers can download for free. With an attachable card reader, they can take payments in stores or on the go. Shopify does not provide the iPads. But it sells the card readers for $19 and a full kit with receipt printer, cash drawer and credit card reader for $499, says Shopify vice president of product Adam McNamara.

The app works with an existing Shopify e-commerce store, displaying the payments, product and inventory information in a single dashboard. Retailers can look at metrics by channel to figure out, for example, which products are selling more online versus in stores, who their biggest spenders are and what an in-store shopper has purchased previously online, McNamara says.

Retailers are automatically billed an extra $49 per month once they start taking payments with the app, after a 14-day free trial, bringing the total cost of a Shopify e-commerce store with mobile POS to $79 per month, McNamara says.

About 30% of Shopify’s clients, which are mostly retailers and together operate more than 65,000 e-commerce sites, also have bricks-and-mortar stores, he says. And many clients also sell offline in places like farmers’ markets or trade shows. Shopify chose to launch the mobile POS app only for the iPad because, when polled, he says more than 90% of its clients said that was their preferred device.  “We’re sticking with that until they tell us otherwise,” McNamara says.

Shoe retailer Packer Shoes, which has seven employees, has been testing Shopify POS for the last three months, according to owner Michael Packer. He says the tool has saved his staff time and eliminated headaches associated with not having a clear view of store and online inventory. For example, the retailer used to occasionally get an online order for a product it was supplying from the store—but the store had just sold out. Sometimes, especially when it had a hot pair of shoes selling out in a few hours, his staff may have ended up spending one or two days afterward issuing refunds and apologizing to customers, he says.

“That’s a bad use of time, but it’s also bad business,” he says. “It became clear the optimal solution would be having everything under one umbrella, your bricks-and-mortar and your e-commerce.”

With Shopify POS, Packer Shoes can add or update a product once and through Shopify’s web-hosted dashboard designate it as part of online, offline or a combined set of inventory. The retailer has also been using Shopify Payments since the service launched last month, which has cut down on its credit card processing fees, Packer says, adding that he can’t yet say by exactly how much either tool has helped his bottom line. Part of why he uses Shopify for all his payments, online and offline, is that the technology scales easily with his business, he says. Last year, Packer Shoes’ e-commerce store grew year over year by 200%, he says, declining to give specific figures.

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