The COVID-19 pandemic has laid a beating on retail stores. Those without a digital presence were especially hard hit: their customers had no way to get in touch when the doors were closed. But more importantly?
Customers had no way to buy stuff from them.
That was probably one of the biggest eye-openers for small businesses whose sales teams (aka the owners) were suddenly twiddling their thumbs instead of making sales.
It’s not too late to learn from this experience and embrace the opportunity to hang out a digital shingle and begin to sell your products to people looking to buy them online.
Don’t be a digital ghost
We’ve written before about how vital a website is, and how important it is for that website to be findable on Google. We won’t rehash those points beyond summarizing: it’s very, very important.
If you can’t rely on foot traffic, or the convenience of neighbourhood proximity to pay the bills, you need to be online. And once you’re online, your sales region can expand. Aren’t you willing to sell your stuff to people in another city or province?
Obligatory disclosure: Unrivald Digital is a Shopify partner…but we loved it even before we were! It’s a convenient and very user-friendly platform to help small businesses grow. It gives you deeper insight into customers who are ordering (or abandoning their carts), offers valuable hints and advice on ways to boost sales and revenue, their customer service is great and there’s a large and helpful user community to guide you through the problems you face.
But the 12 biggest reasons why we love Shopify as a small business sales platform:
- Shopify is the biggest and best name in eCommerce right now – used by millions around the world (but founded here in Canada!). Its proven track record means you don’t have to worry about it disappearing. It’s here to stay!
- Shopify is easy to set up – you can have the framework of your store in place, and begin loading in products in a few hours. That’s important when you need a store up yesterday!
- Shopify lets you offer multiple shipping options (for different geographical zones, product weights, or speeds, for example). Bonus: store owners save when purchasing shipping through the platform.
- Shopify integrates easily with email marketing platforms like Constant Contact. That facilitates email list building so you can send one message to your best customers and another to customers who haven’t purchased from you in a while.
- Shopify gives you a single source for inventory management, whether your sales are happening online or in-store. And you can choose to post a “sold out” notice – or keep selling while you backfill the order when your inventory runs out.
- Shopify’s excellent dashboard tells you exactly how your business is doing – where your site traffic is coming from, how long they hang out in your store, how much they’re buying, etc. And that kind of real-time analysis can help you determine which products are hits and which need to hit the road!
- Shopify’s extensive suite of widgets offer the kind of functionality that businesses require. Need a chat feature? It’s there. Want to convert prices to international currency? Done. Bonus: there are a lot of free tools (or try-before-you-buy tools) to help you get started.
- Shopify lets you start small (and inexpensively) and scale up as your business grows. Getting your feet wet on the platform is low-cost and there are no hidden sticker-shock moments with the basic packages.
- Shopify is mobile friendly, both for customers and administrators. It’s easy for visitors to give you their money, and you can receive notifications on the mobile app instantly. And the little cash register cha-ching noise when you make a sale is hella satisfying!
- Shopify makes it easy to manage security, so the employee who fills orders doesn’t have access to your credit card information, and it’s easy to add and remove access to accommodate staff turnover.
- Shopify’s themes let you jumpstart your store’s development: no need to reinvent the wheel! If your store offers a narrow and deep product selection or a wide and shallow one, there’s a perfect theme out there, waiting for you to customize it with your branding and products.
- Shopify stores can now be connected directly to Facebook: harness the power of Shopify’s inventory management and Facebook’s incredible reach to boost your reach and speed conversion.
Shopify equals Success
There are lots of ways to add a store to an existing website (we like WooCommerce for a WordPress site). But if your site is your store – as in, that’s the bulk of what you have on there – then you should consider going immediately to the simple and elegant solution: Shopify.
And if you’re fairly tech savvy (or willing to learn), you can really unlock the power of the platform and customize your store to be unique to your needs and business.
And if you’re not comfortable with a DIY store, you can connect with us. We’d be happy to help you develop the store of your dreams that reflects your vision and business needs. We’re pretty gung-ho about Shopify and we think you will be too!