The Internet’s #1 Rated E-commerce News Curation

#16 – Patent Wars, Subscription Apps, & SEO Secrets

by | May 10, 2021 | Recent Newsletters

Did you see the press release I published last week about the launch of Shopifreaks? To all our new subscribers who found us through that press release (or other means), welcome to the community!

If you've ever got important e-commerce related news that we should share in an upcoming newsletter, you can hit reply to any my e-mails (including this one) and your messages go straight to my inbox. Alternatively you can reach me at [email protected]

And now, onto the 16th edition of Shopifreaks newsletter….

? SHOP Stock News

Mon, May 3rd – Open: $1,186.73 – Close: $1,122.01

Fri, May 7th – Open: $1,118.20 – Close: $1,108.60

Today (May 10th) – Open: $1,099.00

1) $SHOP took a 15% nosedive

Two weeks ago, SHOP surged 11.4% after they announced 2021 Q1 earnings of $2.01 (beating expectations by 157.69%), but this past week the stock dropped over 15% from its recent highs, pricing it lower than when it started before earnings were reported. 

2) Who owns the most SHOP?

Simply Wall St took a look at the makeup of its share registry to determine who controls Shopify. Here's what they discovered:

  • Individual Insiders: 11,600,574 shares (9.3%)
  • General Public: 38,917,821 shares (31.3%)
  • Institutions: 73,810,913 shares (59.4%)
  • CEO Tobias Lütke is the largest shareholder with 6.1%
  • The second and third largest shareholders own 4.9% and 4.8% respectively
  • The top 25 shareholders collectively control less than half of the company's shares

E-commerce News

1) Shopify joins the Open Invention Network (OIN)

Shopify has been built on open source software since the company launched, and by joining OIN, the company is committing to “patent non-aggression” in core Linux and adjacent open source software. In other words, OIN and their partners cross-license Linux System patents to one another on a royalty-free basis. The organization is funded by Google, IBM, NEC, Philips, Sony, SUSE, and Toyota, and 3,400 other community members.

For your reference, Amazon is not part of the Open Invention Network and holds thousands of patents compared to Shopify's approximately 45 approved patents. Joining OIN could help expedite Shopify's global IP strategy. 

2) Shopify invested $193 Million Pre-IPO in Global-E Online

Global-E Online (GLBE) helps merchants sell internationally by handling currency exchange, inter-country regulatory compliance, customs and duties, and local payment methods. Shopify bought 7.75 million shares last month, acquiring a 6.5% stake, also establishing a partnership agreement making Global-E Online the exclusive provider of cross-border services for Shopify merchants.

GLBE is planning to offer 15 million shares, priced in a range of $23 to $25 per share, during their IPO scheduled for this week (date tbd).

3) ReCharge raised $277M in growth capital to value company at $2.1B

ReCharge, one of the largest Shopify subscription apps, currently powers subscription services for 15,000 merchants and 20 million subscribers worldwide. The company intends to use the new funding to grow their product's functionality, as well as expand their geographic footprint. They face intense competition in the space, but the global market is still wide open. 

4) Commonwealth Bank and BigCommerce partner to attract digitally savvy customers

Commonwealth's business clients will be able to use BigCommerce to set up their own digital storefronts and integrate their payments through the bank. The companies hope that the partnership will give them a leg-up over Shopify in the region — both companies having been founded in Australia.

5) Bitski wants to be the Shopify of NFTs

Everybody wants to be the “Shopify of something” — it's become the new “Uber of” buzzword. (Am I the “Shopify of Shopify focused newsletters”?)

Bitski, a San Francisco based startup that builds custom NFT storefronts for brands, raised $19M in a Series A led by Andreessen Horowitz to become the “Shopify for NFTs”. They aim to allow brands and celebrities to bypass the complex crypto market with a streamlined user-friendly marketplace that lets customers buy NFTs with credit cards. 

6) Director of SEO at Shopify published a YouTube AMA

Kevin Indig asked his Twitter community what questions they had about SEO and subsequently produced an Ask Me Anything video covering startup SEO, reviving flat traffic, starting a new job, developing ideas, & other search marketing related topics. 

One question Indig answered was about low hanging fruit, specifically in regards to SaaS products, which many of our Shopifreaks readers are working to market. Indig's observation was that most companies do not offer enough landing pages for different personas, industries, or features, and that companies could build out at least 15-20 landing pages that address all different angles and aspects of a product. This is a strategy I personally employ with my own client and project sites and will expanad up on below in the Tip of the Week. 

7) New from the Shopify Blog: 

Last week Shopify profiled the FIRE Movement on their blog — which stands for “financial independence, retire early”. The post highlights a few of the movement's ethos and circles around to ways that e-commerce can help you create additional income streams to help you reach FIRE. My friends Bonnie & Trin were unknowingly part of the FIRE Movement and several years ago retired at 43 to travel the world

The Shopify Blog writers also published a commentary about the recent post-pandemic surge of Mompreneurs, as well as profiles on Rocketbook App (how they got acquired by BIC) and Frostbeard Studios (how they leveraged the Shopify Fulfillment Network). 

? Tip of the Week

Each week we offer Shopify merchants a Tip of the Week to help them maximize the sales potential of their stores. If you've got a tip you'd like to share, shoot me an e-mail to [email protected] and I'll include it in an upcoming newsletter. 

To build on Kevin Indig's SEO AMA that I linked to above, this week's tip is about leveraging comparison content for SEO and positioning.

One of my favorite organic ranking strategies is to compare Product A vs B (sometimes vs C & D). If you're a startup that offers Product A in an industry dominated by Products B, C, & D, this strategy can provide twofold results which I'll expand on below:

Result #1 – You can organically rank on Google for search terms that leverage your biggest competitors' brand names. 

Result #2 – You position your new product amongst market leaders in the eyes of your customers. 

How can you rank on search by leveraging your competitors?

Three examples include searches relating to “Best X”, “Alternatives to X”, and “X vs Y”. 

Best X – If you were looking for a subscription app for your Shopify store, you might start by searching Google for “Best Subscription Apps for Shopify“. Therefore, a startup subscription app service could benefit by curating a list of all the best subscription apps on the Shopify marketplace, highlighting their standout features, and breaking down their differences. They would of course include themselves on the list.

Shopify actually employes this strategy by showcasing the 9 Best E-Commerce Platforms for 2021 on their blog.

By creating content where their company is only 1 of 9 on a list, they may only attract 11% of readers to become customers — but that's 11% of a pie that didn't exist before. A pie that was 90% built using competing brands as content ingredients. 

Remember, however, that if you employ this strategy — transparency and authenticity is a must. No-one wants to read a blog post that bashes your competition and makes you look like a hero. To properly execute this strategy, you'll need to create Best X content that objectively compares your product to alternatives and proportionally highlights each brand's strengths and weaknesses.

After all, we can't be the best at everything. Different products in the same space can cater to different types of customers. The purpose of a Best X post isn't to try and convert everyone, but rather, to attract the subset of customers that your product best caters to.

Alternatives to X – Let's say you found a product or service that seems like it fits the bill. What's the next step in your buying process? Well, most likely you want to make sure that you're not missing any better options, so you search for alternatives. 

Similar to how a Best X comparison post highlights the strengths and weaknesses of products in the same space, an Alternative to X post can accomplish the same thing, however, specifically comparing the other options to Product X. 

Therefore a startup app could benefit by creating Alternative to X content around their biggest competitors. And again, like the Best X posts, they probably won't win EVERY reader who finds their post, but they'll win a percentage (which is more than they had before), while simultaneously positioning themselves with the leaders in the industry. 

Here's an example of a company called Poptin using this strategy to create content around the Best Alternatives to Icegram (another popular competing pop-up app) to drive traffic to their website. 

X vs Y – Now that you've found some alternatives, you've narrowed it down to your two top choices, so you begin to search Product X vs Product Y for a detailed comparison to help make your final decision. 

This is one last opportunity for Product A to organically sneak their way into the mix by publishing a comparison post called Product X vs Y vs A. But who the heck is Product A?? I've never heard of Product A! Is that better than X and Y?? 

Here's an under the radar example of how Hubspot published a comparison post of SendGrid vs MailChimp. Even though Hubspot is an alternative to either service, they don't directly pitch Hubspot in the comparison post. They're simply part of the convo. Now that's some stealthy positioning!

Last week I featured a new subscription app called Skio Subscriptions in our newsletter and I noticed them employing the A vs B strategy on their site, comparing Skio vs ReCharge and Skio vs Bold (two of the market leaders in subscription apps). While this is a great strategy, they could take it a step further by comparing ReCharge vs Bold vs Skio — which would allow them to intercept search of people searching for ReCharge vs Bold and simultaneously position themselves with customers who knew about those two companies, but hadn't yet heard of Skio. 

Do you leverage comparison landing pages to rank in organic search? Hit reply to this e-mail and let me know if you've had success with this strategy, or alternatively if you plan on giving it a shot. 

Shopify Apps

Last week Shopify added 37 new apps to the Shopify App store. Here are ten that look promising. 

1) Pre-Order Boss – Allow ordering of inventory before it becomes available or auto-convert sold out merchandise into pre-orders. Free – $29/month.

2) Upsquare: Mobile App Builder – Turn your Shopify store into a fully functional, native, mobile shopping app on iOS and Android. $49/month.

3) Malla: TikTok Style Storefront – Showcase your own Shopify products in the same fun and trending way that users scroll through TikTok videos. Free – $9.99/month.

4) Easy Portfolio: Photo Gallery – Easily create mobile friendly photo galleries to showcase your products, customer photos, and more. Free – $19.99/month.

5) Google Discover Feed Stories – Automatically generate Google Web Stories from your product description content to increase your organic rank. Free

6) Atomee Product Reviews – Offer streamlined product reviews with photos & videos on your store without affecting your page load speed. Free – $14.99/month.

7) HT Google Place Review – Showcase your Google Business Listing reviews on your store and offer an easy way for customers to write their own. $4.99/month.

8) Handshake: Buy Wholesale – Shop one-of-a-kind US brands at wholesale prices on a new marketplace offered by Shopify. Free

9) Atlasmic – Set office hours and automate your customer support process via forms and live chat widgets. Free – $36/month.

10) YSD All-in-1 Discounts & Offers – Offer multiple discounts and offers with just one app including tiered discounts, upsells& cross-sell offers, and volume discounts. $25/mo – $45/mo.

? Community Talk

Shoutout to Chris Byrne over at Sensorpro who launched their e-mail marketing app on the Shopify marketplace last week. Sensorpro is a great option for store owners in the EU if send server location matters because the service is created & hosted in the EU (as opposed to Klaviyo & Shopify who use the US-based third-party Sendgrid to send email). A local send server can increase e-mail deliverability and speed for EU merchants. Sensorpro offers a generous forever free plan for up to 500 contacts. Good luck with our app launch Chris!

? Shop of the Week

Every week in the Shopifreaks newsletter, I feature a Shopify store with a positive mission. If you'd like to nominate a store, e-mail [email protected] or hit reply to any of my newsletters and share their website and story. You can view our previously recognized stores here.

This week's Shop of the Week award goes to – a POC-owned family gift and apparel shop on a mission to empower marginalized women artisans of India.

Brothers Gaurav & Praval feel that the skillful and artisanal handicrafts of India deserve to be presented to the world, so they teamed up with various local Indian communities back home to showcase their products including Mithila paintings, jute laptop bags, silk scarves, and more.

The Nirvana Project offers over 50 ethically sourced artisanal Indian products. Check out their shop and show them some love on Instagram & Facebook

Thanks for being a Shopifreak!

If you have any Shopify or e-commerce related news that's worthy of sharing in our next newsletter, e-mail [email protected] or hit reply to this e-mail.

If you found this newsletter valuable, please share it with your favorite Shopify & e-commerce communities and help us grow.

See you next Monday!


Paul E. Drecksler
[email protected]

PS: What is Mario's favorite type of pants? … Denim Denim Denim.