Shopify, the tech platform that provides e-commerce infrastructure for brands of all sizes, is sometimes called the anti-Amazon for its approach to working with merchants—but that’s not a nickname the business relishes.
“I don’t consider us the anti-Amazon,” VP and general manager for Shopify Plus Loren Padelford says. “I think that’s a media narrative.”
But, Padelford allows, “we want merchants to be front and center. …That’s a worldview difference.”
Those merchant relationships are more critical than ever this month, during a holiday season that has tested retailers in new ways. More consumers are relying on online shopping to buy gifts for their friends and loved ones, including through the 1 million merchants who use Shopify.
Padelford joined Fortune Brainstorm, a podcast about how technology is changing our lives, where he spoke to Fortune’s Michal Lev-Ram and Brian O’Keefe about these changing consumer habits. Shopify’s technology supports everything from Fortune 500 retailer limited-edition launches to Rob Kardashian’s sock brand, putting the company at the center of every kind of shopping during this busy quarter.
While Shopify is working to support sales, tech startup Ohi is developing a new solution to get those purchases to consumers—also, of course, measured against Amazon. CEO Ben Jones founded the company that opens micro-warehouses to help small brands compete with the kind of fast shipping that has, thanks to Amazon, become standard throughout the retail industry.
Jones predicts that within two years, consumers are going to demand products they order online “in a matter of hours.” In a holiday season that follows months of headlines about slowdowns at the U.S. Postal Service, Ohi’s strategy is just as crucial to this year’s holiday season as e-commerce itself.
Fortune retail reporter Phil Wahba also joined the Fortune Brainstorm hosts to provide perspective on how major retailers are faring during this unusual Q4. For more insight into retail and technology, listen to the episode.