• Reports solid quarter in line with success at Etsy, Amazon
  • E-commerce software maker now has more than 300,000 users

Shopify Inc. keeps raising the bar for its own success.

The Canadian company, which makes software to help small and medium-sized merchants sell products and grow their businesses online, bumped up its annual revenue forecast for the second time this year Wednesday, sending the shares up the most in almost six months.

The revised outlook comes as the total amount of sales booked by Shopify users keeps ballooning, more than doubling in the second quarter to $3.4 billion from the same quarter last year. Ottawa-based Shopify also reported a narrower loss and higher revenue than analysts expected and said it now has more than 300,000 customers, up from about 275,000 in the first quarter.

E-commerce companies are improving their views across the board. Amazon.com Inc. said last week third-quarter sales would be higher than analysts had expected and Etsy Inc. gained nearly 10 percent this morning after revenue beat estimates and it too increased its 2016 guidance in a statement on Tuesday.

“There seems to be something going on -- e-commerce seems to be doing better than it has since the beginning,” Gil Luria, an analyst with Wedbush Securities Inc., said on Shopify’s conference call, adding that the company’s results were “probably the best and most impressive” among its peers.

Shopify forecast 2016 revenue of $361 million to $367 million, up from a previous estimate of as much as $347 million, which itself topped an initial forecast of as much as $330 million. The shares gained as much as 8.3 percent, the most intraday since February. They were up 5.7 percent to $35.43 at 12:01 p.m. in New York.

As consumers spend more time shopping online via computers and mobile phones, Shopify is positioning itself to ride the wave of smaller companies benefiting from the broader exposure. It’s struck deals to allow its merchants to sell through social networks like Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. and on larger marketplaces such as Amazon.

When its users grow, Shopify makes more money by charging them for more advanced plans and taking a cut of some of their transactions if they’re using the company’s payments processing system. The company is building out its Shopify Plus product for larger customers, including Boeing Co., Hallmark Cards Inc. and musicians like Adele and Justin Bieber.

“We can actually have a meaningful impact on the futures of our customers and actually produce more Shopify Plus customers,” Chief Executive Officer Tobias Lutke said on the conference call.

Though the company is still unprofitable, Chief Financial Officer Russ Jones said it wants to keep spending on growth and won’t be in the black until the fourth quarter of 2017. Earlier this year, Shopify acquired Kit CRM, a software startup that helps online merchants with marketing, and opened a new 300-person office in the Waterloo, Ontario, area.

Last week, Shopify made a regulatory filing to allow itself to potentially sell as much as $500 million in equity or debt securities over the next 25 months. It had $179.6 million in cash at the end of the second quarter.

“We’re in an excellent position competitively and the market continues to grow,” Jones said.

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