Two of Canada’s ‘most innovative’ startups partner for e-commerce win

Men’s clothing e-tailer Frank & Oak may have been chosen as the “People’s Choice” award winner in the digital media category at this year’s Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX), but they didn’t do it without some help from another firm on the top 20 list of Canada’s most innovative companies.

Payfirma Corp. is a Vancouver-based payments processor and was named to the CIX top 20 in the information and technology (ICT) category. In the gallery showcasing the top 20 firms at last week’s Toronto-based event, Payfirma’s CEO Michael Gokturk stood along side Frank & Oak CIO Hicham Ratnani and a display of some of the fashionable store’s threads. But it isn’t the first time these two have been rubbing elbows.

The entrepreneurial duo first met in Silicon Valley during a 48 Hours in the Valley conference targeting promising Canadian firms that were looking for mentoring sessions. As Ratnani describes it, they shared some laughs and drinks, but also had enough time to talk business.

Frank & Oak’s pop-up store in New York City.

“We realized we were a really good fit to work together,” he says. “As we grew the company, we’re always looking to expand the online/offline model to further reach the modern gentleman, and we realized Payfirma was the perfect product for us.”

Payfirma has become Frank & Oak’s payments processing provider. The unique thing it offers the e-tailer is not just a system that can handle the typical online payments it receives from customers, but a mobile extension of that inventory catalogue. Having an iPad app that connects to their online database of products allows Frank & Oak to do physical pop-up shops at the right time and place, without the need for a separate payments solution.

“It ties in the channels of mobile and e-commerce into one place,” says Michael Gokturk, CEO of Payfirma. This allows Frank & Oak to accept credit card payments on site at their temporary physical locations.

Frank & Oak experimented with its real-world locations in New York City Nov. 15 and Nov. 16 when it launched its new United Tailors brand using The Mile End Shop, its “Montreal-inspired pop-up store and discovery space,” as described in a media release. Customers browse through physical threads on display alongside some rustic décor. It’s the type of scenario where Payfirma will come in handy in the future.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” Ratnani says. “The shopper can have an easy, personalized experience and the retailer can offer that easily.”

Payfirma’s solution can integrate with 500 e-commerce platforms and shopping carts, according to its Web site. That includes the more popular ones such as WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, and Magento. Pricing per mobile transaction is a rate of 2.09 to 3.02 per cent, plus a 25 cent charge. There’s also a $10 per month fee. The e-commerce pricing is $29.99 per month and the same transaction rate.

Frank & Oak likes Payfirma’s solution, and switched to it from a competing solution, because it offers competitive pricing, good customer service, and reliability, Ratnani says. Though Payfirma is its main payments processor, the store does have other payment processors in place as a backup.

Brian JacksonBrian Jackson is the Editor at E-mail him at, follow him on Twitter, connect on , read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.
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