COVID-19: How to use Shopify to get your small business website up and running
With most brick and mortar stores closed during this pandemic, we are seeing more and more online sales. It's relatively easy to start selling on Shopify and to continue your revenue stream.
Businesses are facing the harsh reality of COVID-19. With retail stores shut down and relatively very few people looking to shop in-person, many businesses are struggling to sell their merchandise.
A few years back, an online store was a “nice to have” tool for many small brick-and-mortar businesses. In the current situation, it’s a must-have.
But the silver lining of the current situation is that it’s happening now - in the digital age, and not twenty years ago. These days almost everyone has access to the Internet, which means most people are buying what they need online. Companies like FedEx and USPS offer contact-free delivery, allowing you to resume business without putting additional people’s lives in harm’s way.
We often recommend Shopify to e-commerce beginners where they can setup a store and start selling their merchandise online. So if you have time, you can set it up yourself rather quickly and relatively effortlessly.
If you’re used to running a brick-and-mortar business and want to start selling online, this is why Shopify will work for you:
1. Intuitive, easy to use system
You don’t need coding experience to set up a simple working e-commerce store with Shopify. All you need are images of your products, prepare accurate product descriptions, and bank information where the store’s income will be automatically deposited every few days. Subscription costs start at $29 a month, and Shopify currently offers a 90-day free trial to test the store.
There are plenty of themes out there to fit your brand and you can purchase them in the Shopify theme store but we also recommend themes sold here that offer robust options with multiple layouts and plenty of different contents blocks to choose from.
2. Inventory tracking
Shopify has a great inventory tracking system that ensures that customers can buy as many items as you have in stock. It keeps separate count for each variant (size, color, etc.) and notifies you when you’re out.
If your items are made-to-order, you can skip the inventory tab, so you don’t have to list the item over and over like you need to, for example, on Etsy.
Integration with other platforms such as Etsy, Amazon, Wish, etc.
This option is extremely helpful for those retailers who sell their merchandise across several platforms. You can manage your stock, prices, and listings all in one place. This integration requires installing 3rd party apps and takes a bit more time to set up. If it sounds too complicated, we’ll be happy to assist you with integrating all platforms into the Shopify dashboard.
3. Wide variety of functionalities
You can customize the shopping experience through the use of apps. They are developed by 3rd parties and usually don’t require you to have any coding knowledge. To get started, read this article to know what are proved to be effective in increases sales.
4. Secure payments
As a business owner, you should take the security of customer information that you have on file very seriously. With Shopify, you don’t have to worry about that since the platform handles all online payments for you. You never get to see full credit card information; money simply gets transferred into your accounts (bank or PayPal) automatically. This is one less thing to worry about!
You can start selling as soon as you upload your first product
The platform allows you to start selling within minutes, you can make your first sale as soon as you have some products to sell.
When it comes to legal and business policies, Shopify offers great solutions. Automatic tax setup is super-easy (you can add a flat percentage or input your geographical location so that it gets calculated by the system), choose which countries you want to ship to, set up your preferred shipping companies and options, and you’re good to go. Moreover, you can take advantage of pre-written sample policies (exchanges, information privacy, etc) to add to your site until you get around to customizing them.
5. Sophisticated fraud analysis
Shopify is there to help you avoid scams. Each transaction is evaluated by a complex system that takes into account many factors such as the checkout IP address, billing information, number of attempts to pay, and many others. You get access to the details of fraud analysis, as well as the customer’s phone number and e-mail address, so you can make an informed decision about each transaction that has been flagged.
6. POS integration
For when we get back to normal life, Shopify offers a complimentary point-of-sale system that can be used in the retail store or on the go. It syncs sales and inventory information with the website, so everything that you see in the seller dashboard is always up-to-date among all sales channels.
And if you have several locations or several traveling salesmen, POS system will even track the inventory and its location in real-time, allowing you to take orders even if the item is sold out in that particular place.
Additionally, the system lets you punch in credit card information directly, so you don’t have to go to the store to process payment every time you get a phone order.
7. Easily ship your products
You can create prepaid shipping labels and automatically send tracking information to your customers through the Shopify system. Once you buy a label, print it out and tape it to your package, and then simply have it scanned at the Post Office.
Additionally, you get a discount price with USPS, so you get to save on shipping expenses!
8. Integration with social media channels
Have you noticed little shopping tags on Instagram or Facebook posts that display prices? Once you integrate your business social media channels into Shopify and get a green light from Facebook verification system, you can also sell your items on these social media platforms.
Shopify offers limitless possibilities when it comes to online retail. It costs very little to test, and it takes very little time to set up.
Of course, it’s going to take time and effort to grow a brand new store, but you have all the tools to succeed. Frankly speaking, brick-and-mortar retail stores don’t have many other options right now. Utilize the time in this difficult COVID-19 situation and jumpstart a new phase of your business. Once this crisis is over, you’ll have a fully developed sales channel that you didn’t have before!