Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Shopify launches Collabs in the UK to help nurture the “creator economy” 

Global commerce company Shopify has launched Shopify Collabs in the UK. Designed to bring brands and creators together, Shopify Collabs makes it simple for creators to monetise their channels across Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and more, while giving brands a new sales and marketing funnel.

With just 4% of creators globally able to go professional, Shopify Collabs will enable more people to turn their passion into a full time business and achieve economic independence. The new tool makes it easier to discover brands and establish partnerships, such as beauty creators working with emerging make-up brands for their ‘Get Ready With Me’ videos by sharing affiliate links their followers can use to get discounts directly for their products they’re using. 

For brands on Shopify, Collabs creates the opportunity to discover creators and manage their relationships with them. It also gives them a new way to connect with highly engaged consumers, through trusted creators, at a time when acquiring customers has never been more difficult and expensive.

Once brands install Collabs and make their store and products discoverable, creators can join that brand’s community. Shopify Collabs can then be used to manage the relationship, supplying creators with everything they need like unique links or discount codes, and enabling them to share the merchant’s products with their engaged audiences. Because Collabs is on Shopify, the entire process is managed centrally from the Shopify admin, which means inventory, order, and customer information are kept up to date, giving a real-time view of the merchant’s entire multichannel sales. 

Ecommerce Age spoke to Mike Schmidt, Head of Product for Shopify Collabs, to find out more:

Collabs is being rolled out in the UK – has it been active in other countries before now? 

Shopify Collabs is currently live in the USA and Canada, with Collabs Network – which makes it even easier for creators and merchants to work together – launching additionally in the UK today.

Hundreds of thousands of creators have signed up for Shopify Collabs to date, with Apparel and Beauty representing the top industries.

What encouraged you to launch in the UK? Do you anticipate a lot of demand for this offering?

The UK creator economy continues to accelerate at breakneck speed, but currently lacks the infrastructure to enable creator partnerships to be formed quickly, simply, and transparently. Few creators are able to make a living doing what they love, given the fragmented and friction-filled processes needed to build their own businesses for the long term. Shopify Collabs Network is the solution to that problem. 

Collabs Network brings together creators with Shopify’s millions of independent brands in one place, so each can capitalise on the shared value. Collabs Network enables merchants and creators to kick start affiliate relationships together instantly and get paid faster. So, for a beauty influencer hosting a makeup tutorial on YouTube, or a fashion influencer selling this summer’s latest trends on Instagram, they can start earning faster than ever. 

We already have amazing UK brands like French Connection, Color Wow and Three Spirit Drinks available for creators to partner with. Creators, including Rosie Butcher, Isabelle Kate, Steph Elswood, Tam Kaur and Lucy Moon, to name a few have already signed up to join Collabs Network. 

Shopify’s job is to bring economic independence to creators, levelling the playing field for this new generation of entrepreneurs. This is testament to the demand we expect to see in the market and the huge potential for Shopify Collabs in the UK.

What are the main benefits for brands?

Brands have long been getting hit by rising customer acquisition costs and lower returns on their ad spend. But, by partnering with creators, those brands can reach the right audience to help them grow their business. Shopify’s 2023 Commerce Trends report found that using social channels for marketing and promotions is the most important customer acquisition and retention strategy for businesses to drive growth in the next few years, with almost a third of shoppers saying influencer recommendations are more important to them than those of friends and family, and 71% of businesses expect online influencers to become even more important in the future.

Collabs allows creators to start selling instantly, so brands can see an uplift by getting their products in front of high intent affiliates, allowing them to reach new audiences and increase the value of their sales.

It means that, instead of high up-front ad campaign costs, creators effectively do the work for the brands, who only pay for converted sales.

What opportunities does this create for content creators? 

Creators are entrepreneurs by trade— to fuel this next stage of growth for the creator economy, and to help creators fully realise their entrepreneurial potential, they need a commerce platform that’s built for them and that’s compatible with many social platforms from YouTube to Instagram to Meta.

Only 4% of creators globally can turn their side-hustle into a business (source). Collabs enables easier, more efficient and more profitable collaboration between creators and brands. Collabs Network lowers the barrier further for commerce curious creators that are looking for low risk affiliate partnerships.. Once creators are in the Collabs Network, they don’t need to jump through added hoops – no approvals required. 

For both creators and brands, they get better visibility into their partnerships. Creators can see what brands their followers are buying, and brands can see which creators are driving the most sales, allowing them to opt to work with them more closely (without extra fees from middle men) if they choose.  

Why is investment in influencer marketing still growing?

Influencers are the new advertisers – affiliate marketing with influencers has become a huge part of every brand’s marketing strategy, with the global affiliate marketing industry now worth over $17 billion

Creator partnerships are an important part of any brand marketing toolkit. The introduction of solutions like Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) has made traditional performance marketing way less effective. As a result, we can expect even more innovation in this space to streamline how brands work with creators/influencers to acquire customers. For example a recent Boston Consulting Group report we conducted highlighted how social media integrations are particularly impactful on conversion when paired with email marketing. It was found that organic channels have a clear edge over paid channels in overall conversion rate.  

With Collabs Network, creators can sell a retailer’s products instantly, and distribute commissions automatically after a sale has been made. It’s also potentially cheaper for brands. Instead of high up-front ad campaign costs, merchants can let the creators do the targeting, storytelling, reach their key audience, and they only pay for converted sales.

What are your main priorities for the UK Collabs product this year?

Our priority is the successful roll-out of Collabs and Collabs Network to help both brands and creators work together seamlessly. We’re focusing on creators rather than publishers because we believe creators are the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Discovering brands and establishing partnerships as a solo creator is hard. They would rather spend time doing what they love – engaging with their communities. Our job is to bring economic independence to creators, accelerating their path to entrepreneurship. Our measure of success will be on how many we can help to achieve the economic independence they’re looking for.