Shopify cutting 10% of workforce as e-commerce sales cool off
Shopify said Tuesday that a slowdown in the pace of e-commerce sales growth caught it by surprise, prompting the online retail platform to announce layoffs.
Why it matters: A tapering off in e-commerce sales growth suggests the economy is rebalancing as the pandemic's grip eases.
- E-commerce sales were 14.3% of total U.S. retail sales in the first quarter of 2022, having declined for two straight quarters and down from 14.9% a year earlier, according to U.S. Census data.
The intrigue: The company grew its workforce during the pandemic as CEO Tobias Lütke said he "bet" that e-commerce sales growth would accelerate by five to 10 years.
- "It’s now clear that bet didn’t pay off," he said Tuesday in a note to employees. "What we see now is the mix reverting to roughly where pre-Covid data would have suggested it should be at this point. Still growing steadily, but it wasn’t a meaningful 5-year leap ahead."
The bottom line: E-commerce is still growing, but at a much slower pace than when the pandemic began.
- "Put bluntly, this was a huge strategic mistake that was driven by an insufficient understanding of customer behavior, a lack of rigor in analyzing the market, and a bit of hubris," GlobalData managing director Neil Saunders wrote Tuesday, adding that Shopify had become "very bloated."