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Arming the Rebels: Inside the world of Shopify Plus with Rhys Furner | #039

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Nathan Bush is a director at eCommerce talent agency, eSuite. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Rhys Furner, Head of Partnerships and Sales Development for Shopify Plus in the APAC region.  Rhys was one of the first handful of Shopify employees when they first landed on Australian shores. 

He shares his Australian retail observations over the Black Friday sale period, takes us behind the scenes on the Shopify recruitment process and shares how his mum is the inspiration behind his passion for helping other entrepreneurs. 

We feel like the world is going to be a better place if we put the power in the hands of the many, rather than in the hands of the few.

  Rhys Furner

Questions answered in this episode include
  • What defines the Shopify culture?
  • How does Shopify approach the task of supporting entrepreneurs against giants like Amazon?
  • What are your top tips for managing a team remotely?


Shopify vs Shopify Plus: The key differences

“So, Shopify and Shopify Plus are based on the same architecture, very similar look and feel about the two. The key difference is that Shopify Plus just has a bigger and better support structure around it and more of a feature set that’s suitable for high growth, high volume merchants that typically have a little bit more complexity as well. So examples of the support, if you’re on Shopify Plus you get priority support that pushes through our particular support teams that have generally skilled up on dealing with more complex kinds of situations. And we also have our merchant growth model and merchant success managers.  So it’s.a specific program that Plus merchants are enrolled in, where you’ve got an account structure around you that are used to dealing with merchants at a similar scale on the feature set side.  There’s a range of features that are unlocked with Shopify Plus, again, they’re more suited to more complex merchants.

Entrepreneurship is special

We feel like the world is going to be a better place if we put the power in the hands of the many, rather than in the hands of the few.  So we believe in independent businesses, we want to empower entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs across the board to create great experiences and great products so that people have choice. The moment that choice is eroded, the consumer ends up losing… and I think this is relevant to a lot of people, you know, yourself included and people that are listening, is that entrepreneurship is special. You know, I’ve been an entrepreneur before and there’s nothing better than when you’re creating a product and you’re satisfying a market need. You’re creating something you need. You’re crafting your brand story. You’re connecting with customers. You give a shit. You give a shit about doing something special.  And that I think the more that we can do makes the world a better place and creating that economic independence for people is extremely important. So I think that’s really a lot of the mission that Shopify has, it’s about making commerce better for everyone. And I think we hold a really important seat at the table, you know our technology does enable so many entrepreneurs to bring their dreams to life… So it’s empowering, not just those entrepreneurs that are creating products, but it’s those entrepreneurs that create the service businesses and the technologies around it as well, which is really special.”

When hiring, Shopify want to know who you are first, before finding out what you can do

“I feel like the vast majority of my life is hiring these days. One of the things that we’re really big on is the life story. And that’s always the first interview that we do. It’s not about someone’s skills. It’s not about what they’ve done. It’s really about who they are. That’s where we always start. And it’s interesting because a lot of people aren’t used to that, a lot of people are used to jumping straight into those sorts of things. So they’ll be taken aback like, oh, you want to know me?  You want to get to know what I’m all about?  So that surprises me that more people don’t do that. 

It’s an awkward first question. But generally, we’ll preface the first interview with a ‘look today, it’s just about getting to know you’ and it’s starting with ‘tell me about you’. I realize that’s a really open-ended question. But most people start with where they’re from, where they grow up, what are their interests. It’s just getting to know someone. I think that’s such an important aspect that is probably not done enough. So, when we get to know someone, we start obviously getting that sense around culture fit, team fit, and you don’t want to be a bunch of clones. You need to look at people that are obviously different and amplify the culture. You know, culture is always changing, but it’s interesting just getting to know people.

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