Tobi Lütke

Even as consumers flock to buy products online--more than $900 billion worth last year--the e-commerce market is still largely dominated by clunky storefronts. But these four companies are finding smarter ways to create a more dynamic, social retail experience.

Tobu Lutke
Photo by JOHN HRYNIUK

CEO / Shopify / Ottawa, Ontario

Problem: Traditionally, e-commerce sites have been expensive to build and maintain, which has narrowed the field of who can compete in the market.

Solution: Shopify offers inexpensive, easy-to-customize software for companies starting e-commerce sites and then assists those new business owners as they gain their footing.

"At Shopify, we are trying to make things as simple as possible, but for the business owner, it's not unlike starting your own little shop along Main Street somewhere. You still have to somehow entice people into your store and have the right products that the right people need so that customers will open their wallets and actually buy things from you; but knowing how to do those things can't be automated with software. So Shopify has these highly educated gurus--most of whom run their own stores--and they are there to help people in those crucial first months. Once a shop owner gets one or two sales, it might be life changing."

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