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UPDATE 2-Shopify tempers 2021 expectations after record year for online demand

 (Adds details, background, shares)
    Feb 17 (Reuters) - Shopify Inc          hinted revenue
growth would slow this year, as vaccine rollouts encourage
people to return to stores, after the Canadian e-commerce firm
trounced profit and revenue expectations for the holiday quarter
on soaring online demand.
    The company said it does not expect the near doubling of
gross merchandise volume (GMV), an industry metric to measure
transaction volumes, in 2020 to repeat this year.
    The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines will likely rotate some
consumer spending back to brick-and-mortar stores and the shift
to e-commerce, which accelerated in 2020, will likely resume a
more normalized pace of growth, the company said.
    "We expect that we will continue to grow revenue rapidly in
2021, albeit at a lower rate than in 2020."
    The company's U.S. shares fell 2.4% to $1,438 in pre-market
trading, after nearly tripling in value in 2020.
    Shopify's platform helps sellers to set up stores online and
the company also offers payments and shipment tracking services,
attracting thousands of businesses as curbs imposed during the
health crisis worldwide accelerated a shift to e-commerce.
    The Ottawa-based company, which generates revenue through
subscriptions and merchant services, said monthly recurring
revenue rose 53% to $82.6 million as more sellers on free trials
converted into paying subscribers.     
    Gross merchandise volume rose 99% to $41.1 billion during
the all-important holiday shopping season, the third straight
quarter of record growth, also beating analysts' estimates of
$36.67 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
    Shopify, which partners with Walmart Inc         and
Facebook       , said on Wednesday it plans to boost investment
in products like Shop App, international expansion and Shopify
Fulfillment Network.
    Revenue nearly doubled to $977.7 million, beating estimates
of $910.2 million. Adjusted earnings of $1.58 per share also
topped estimates of $1.26. 


 (Reporting by Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj
Kalluvila)
  
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