Illustration by Tomi Um for TIME

There’s no denying it: lockdowns and social-distancing rules have been terrible for brick-and-mortar small businesses. Those that managed to shift sales online often had one company to thank: Shopify. The Canadian e-commerce platform helps businesses set up and maintain their own online stores. During COVID-19 lockdowns last spring, Shopify extended its free-trial period from 14 to 90 days and launched a new service that allowed businesses to quickly set up curbside pickup. Its users—ranging from toy retailers to clothing stores—now collectively constitute the second largest e-commerce retailer in the U.S. The ultimate goal, says Shopify president Harley Finkelstein, is to help small businesses compete against titans by offering a service that “anyone that knows how to use email can use.”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Alejandro de la Garza at