The recent COVID-19 pandemic has changed what a normal life looks like. Because of the vast shift that we all have to adapt to, all traditional businesses are especially affected, specifically through the practice of social distancing that discourages customers from visiting physical stores. However, the good news is that, despite social distancing, people are still actively shopping from home.
In fact, according to an analysis by ACI Worldwide, transaction volumes in most retail sectors have seen a 74 percent rise in March compared to the same period last year, while online gaming has seen a staggering increase of 97 percent. If anything, this means one thing: business owners with brick and mortar shops will soon have to move their businesses online, FAST!
The good news is, the pandemic has also changed consumers’ habits when it comes to online shopping. Before, people would normally only shop online for clothes, gadgets, and other non-perishables and would prefer to buy their groceries in physical stores. But due to the need for quarantining, consumers have started purchasing groceries online, opting for either self pick-up or engaging a delivery service.
To help retailers make their shift online, Shopify offers solutions, like creating a simple Shopify store to offer curbside pickup or local delivery options to customers. This can eventually lead to a more holistic shift to selling all or most of their products online.
If you’re new to the e-commerce landscape, below are some essential steps you can take to kickstart your online business. Soo, you will learn how to treat your homepage like your storefront and transition some of your physical store experience onto your product pages.
So, how do I create an online store?
1. Start a Shopify 90-day free trial
The first step is to go to shopify.com and sign up for a free 90-day trial to get started with your online business.
You’ll pick a name for your store here, which will become the URL or domain name that your customers will use to access your store. To begin, you can choose the Basic plan, but you can always increase as needed.
Note: You’ll have to enter your credit card or PayPal information. Because you’re on a 90-day free trial, you won’t be charged during that time, and we’ll give you a reminder before it expires.
2. Choose a theme
In the Shopify Theme Store, you can find the perfect theme, or website template, for your online store. You may either start with a free Shopify theme or purchase a theme created by one of their Partners.
You’ll want your physical store and online presence to be in sync, so browse themes by collection or industry and pick one that best fits your business. Of course, no theme is limited to a certain business; it’s simply a way to get you started quickly. You can always change your theme later if you want to.
Prep your essential pages
Customers will be able to continue purchasing your products sooner if you make your online store open as soon as possible. Focus on the essentials: make sure your store includes easily recognisable parts of your company (such as your logo or brand colours) and is simple to browse and purchase.
There’s no need to be concerned about the extras. Your first aim should be to get your products online and sell the inventory you have in your store. Before you begin, we recommend that you create the following pages:
Treat your homepage as if it were a physical storefront. Shoppers utilise the homepage to find out about new deals and promotions, as well as to navigate to product pages. Consider having a banner or notification bar that informs customers about important information, such as what purchase or shipping alternatives you’ve made available, or how they can help you by purchasing a gift card.
Because recent supply chain difficulties have had an unforeseen impact on shipping services, your consumers may have a few shipping-related questions for you. Take a look around to see how other local businesses are handling their Shipping FAQs right now. It’s critical to disclose any additional precautions you’re doing to keep clients safe while shipping purchases to their homes, such as extra safeguards taken when preparing or packaging your products.
Return and exchange policy
You may provide clear, consistent standards for how customers can replace or refund their purchases with a documented return policy. Return and exchange requests should not be handled on a case-by-case basis, since it might add extra complexity (and cost) to your operation.
An excellent Contact Us page sets the correct expectations with customers and explains how and when they can contact you. Include a map of your store’s location for local customers, as well as a contact form so they don’t have to leave your website to reach you.
It’s critical to make your product pages thorough and attractive because they’re where you market the value of your products. With the tools you have, we’ve included resources to help you construct high-converting product pages, write interesting product descriptions, and take good-looking product photography.
Add your products
If you have a huge catalogue, adding your products can take some time, but there are ways to get started quickly. We recently released modifications to make this process faster and easier, and we’re also providing free data migration services to customers who are opening their first online store.
Here are a few options for adding products:
- Bulk upload from your Shopify admin. You can make a simple bulk upload of your goods into Shopify if you’re a Shopify customer.
- Use Shopify Mobile or Shopify POS. If your inventory is out of date, use the Shopify Mobile app to take photos of your products with your mobile device’s camera and upload them to your online store in one easy step.
- Use our free POS data migration service. This solution will assist you migrate your POS data onto Shopify’s platform if you aren’t utilising Shopify POS for your brick-and-mortar store. Most POS systems, including Lightspeed, Square, Quickbooks, Vend, Shopkeep, and others, can be migrated.
Set up gift cards
One of the quickest methods for a brick-and-mortar business to start selling online and secure instant cash flow is to sell digital gift cards. The following is how it works:
- You create a digital gift card
- Customers may then use your new online store to purchase and pay for gift cards.
- Gift cards that have been purchased are then emailed to your customers. All active gift cards can be tracked and managed in Shopify as consumers redeem them in the future.
- Customers can redeem gift cards at checkout as you introduce new products that can be purchased online or as you make your products available for local delivery or pickup. The gift cards you create will never expire by default.
Set up shipping
Shoppers are stranded at home, and many require orders to be delivered to their doorstep, thus delivering a cost-effective and convenient shipping experience is now critical. Here are some suggestions for keeping your business running in these unpredictable times while remaining secure with social distancing.
1. Keep shipping costs down
Shipping costs may quickly cut into a retailer’s profit margins, so plan ahead when it comes to shipping and fulfilment. Here are a couple of ideas:
- Opt for manual shipping: Print labels, send shipping alerts, and keep track of every detail of your purchases, as well as personally fulfilling orders when possible.
- Skip the fancy packaging. Simply opt for the packaging from your courier provider.
- Set up Local Shipping. You can offer a “local delivery” option to consumers who are close to your business. Customers in your chosen zone will automatically be charged local shipping costs at checkout.
2. Try Shopify Shipping
Shopify Shipment works with courier providers like DHL in Singapore and Malaysia, and each carrier has different mail classes, so depending on the carrier and mail class you choose, you can get features like overnight delivery, package pick-ups, tracking information, international shipping, and more.
Shopify also works directly with carriers to negotiate affordable rates for each shipping service, which are included in every plan at no additional cost to you.
3. Set up self pick-up for local customers
Curbside pickup allows your local clients to order anything online and pick it up from your store without ever leaving their automobile. This “drive-through” alternative not only eliminates face-to-face interactions, but it also saves time and money on shipment. The steps are as follows:
1. Your customers will place orders and pay for them via your new online store.
2. The order will be emailed to you so that you may safely prepare it.
3. After that, you’ll notify the customer when it’s ready for pickup.
4. Your client will arrive at your store and open their trunk.
5. You’ll put their order in their trunk carefully.
6. That’s all there is to it; you’re done!
Setting up payments
When deciding which payment methods to offer online, there are a few points to keep in mind. You can use Shopify Payments or a third-party service to allow your customers to pay with a credit card. Customers can also pay online without using a credit card, using PayPal or an online bank transfer, for example. Finally, accelerated checkouts such as Shop Pay save shipping and payment information for returning customers, making it easier for them to check out.
Read these terms and instructions to make sure you choose the right payment methods for your business.
Let shoppers know you’re open for business
After you’ve set up your internet store, the first thing you should do is notify existing clients that you’re still in business. Here’s how to let your clients know you’ve opened an internet store, as well as a few places they may find you:
- Email your customers. Have you gathered emails from clients in person, through an existing website, or through your POS system? Now is an excellent time to stay in touch with them on a regular basis, and email gives you a direct path to their inbox. To begin, inform customers about recent developments and how they can continue to buy your products or contribute to your cause by purchasing gift cards.
- Add signage to your storefront. A sign on your door pointing shoppers to your online business can be a simple but effective way to alert local foot traffic about your new online store.
- Post to social media. If you’re on social media, include your business’s URL in your Instagram bio, tweet your new URL or domain name, and post a status update on your Facebook page with a link to your store.
- Add or update local listings. Google My Business is a free service that allows you to promote your local business on Google Search and Google Maps. For example, on your Business Profile, you can provide the URL of your website as well as photographs of your products, which will appear in Google’s search results. You can also mention any special specials or deals to entice customers to shop online with you.
- Announce it on your homepage (when it’s live).
And there you have it, folks — your new online store!
Source: Resilient Retail: How to Move Your Brick-and-Mortar Business Online