As it builds out its own fulfilment network, Ottawa’s Shopify is planning to launch its own distribution facility in the National Capital Region as a “centre of excellence,” according to job postings on the e-commerce company’s website.
Shopify, which surpassed 1,000 employees in Ottawa this past week, says it plans to run its own facility to “trial new warehousing and fulfillment technology” and give its product teams an inside look at the “highs and lows” of the industry. The site will also be used to fulfil live orders placed through the company’s merchants.
This is according to job postings on Shopify’s careers website that said the company is looking to build out a team to manage its burgeoning network of fulfilment centres. Among the responsibilities listed for Ottawa-based roles such as “warehouse site manager” include operating forklifts and other heavy machinery.
Some of the postings, which were live as of Tuesday, have since been removed, but a few remain up on job boards such as Glassdoor.
Shopify declined to discuss its local plans when asked about the Ottawa warehouse by OBJ.
“Shopify’s ambition is to make fast and inexpensive shipping the new standard on the internet. Since announcing the Shopify Fulfilment Network, we’ve been working closely with our third-party fulfilment centres and early-access merchants, with a focus on delivering the best shipping and fulfilment technologies, but we don't have anything to announce at this time,” a spokesperson said via email.
Shopify announced in August it was accelerating plans to roll out its distribution network, a push to help its more than one million merchants compete with Amazon. In September, the Ottawa-based company announced it would pay US$450 million to acquire Massachusetts-based warehousing software and robotics company 6 River Systems, a move analysts said set the firm up to become a “disruptive force” in fulfilment services.
Questions still surround massive North Gower development
Shopify’s job postings come as a massive new distribution centre planned for North Gower – one of the only large-scale industrial developments planned or under construction in Ottawa – continues to work its way through the municipal approval process.
Developer Broccolini intends to construct a 700,000-square-foot, 30-metre-high warehouse on Roger Stevens Drive, near Highway 416.
James Beach, Broccolini’s director of real estate and development, told OBJ last month that the site was being designed for an e-commerce operator – similar to the developer’s recent project for Amazon on Boundary Road.
Beach told OBJ Thursday that he could not confirm whether Broccolini has a tenant secured for the site.
Several real estate experts told OBJ that the scale of Broccolini’s planned development would be exceptionally large for a test facility marking Shopify’s first foray into fulfilment services.
Avison Young vice-president Ed Belanger said Shopify looked at one of his listings for its centre of excellence, but had been exploring a property in the range of 40,000-50,000 square feet.
Shawn Hamilton, managing director of CBRE Ottawa, said Shopify’s name has been floated around the “rumour mill” for Broccolini’s project, but he agreed with others in the industry in saying that the move would be unorthodox.
“For their first foray into it, to do something that's 90-foot clear and 700,000 square feet, would certainly be ambitious,” Hamilton said.
Belanger added, however, that Shopify is no stranger to ambition in business.
“Who knows with Shopify, right?