These are extraordinary times and concerns over our collective health and the economy are rampant. In the face of the Coronavirus threat, many state and local governments are forcing “non-essential” businesses to shutter until the crisis passes. That could mean weeks or months without revenue. But there is a place where nearly all businesses can still operate: e-commerce. For many businesses, e-commerce platforms represent unexplored streams of income that they have yet to explore. Shopify, for instance, allows customers to shop for products from the safety of their homes, which is essential during this crisis, but also a convenience that’s becoming more and more popular, even during the best of times.
Why Now is the Time to Open a Shopify Store
Very few businesses are prepared to weather a protracted economic crisis, but for many small to medium-size businesses, a few weeks without income can be devastating. Many managers respond by eliminating any expense that isn’t directly related to operations, so why would now be the right time to open a Shopify store?
Once you understand the capabilities of Shopify, it becomes kind of obvious how featuring your products on a Shopify site could help keep your business hustling during the downturn. This may actually be an ideal time to make the move to a fully customized Shopify website. Here are a few reasons why:
- 24/7 Access for Your Customers – Shopify sells your products at night and during the weekends and holidays. You fill the orders during your hours of operation, but you don’t miss out on sales because you’re off the clock.
- 90-Day Free Trial – To ease with the economic impact of the Coronavirus, Shopify has extended its usual 14-day free trial to 90 days. That’s three months to customize your e-commerce platform and to fully implement Shopify into your business.
- Generous Financing Options – If you’re concerned about opening your wallet during these uncertain times, Shopify has you covered. Your business may be eligible for Shopify Capital, which is repayable in 6 installments over the next 12 months. With the three-month trial period, you can really test Shopify before committing.
- In-Store and Curbside Pickup Capabilities – If you have a business that requires in-store traffic to deliver goods, Shopify can help your customers make orders and set appointments for pick up.
- More Money is Spent in Online Sales – If you aren’t already selling your merchandise online, you need to take note of this fact: as of February 2019, online purchases in the U.S. overtook general merchandise retailers for the first time. This is a trend that your business needs to be a part of — and now, it’s absolutely crucial.
What’s Involved in Opening a Shopify e-Commerce Store?
You may have not explored Shopify because of the perceived complexity of opening a store. In fact, you may have found this article because you were planning on using the downtime to learn the ropes, so to speak. But Shopify is not that complicated. The following are the steps involved in establishing a Shopify store:
1. Sign Up With Shopify
This is a pretty obvious first step, but before you go charging in — your three-month trial begins when you sign up — you may want to do a little research and look at other Shopify stores before you trigger your account. Once you’re ready, though, it’s easy. You just need:
- An email address
- A password
- And the name of your store
Then you just have to answer a few questions about your business.
2. Start Setting Up Your Store
This is probably the part that you found intimidating, but Shopify makes it relatively easy. The site will direct you to an admin screen. You’ll be prompted to:
- Customize your store
- Upload products
- Set up accounts for payment and shipping.
3. Select a Theme/Layout
Like WordPress, Shopify sells a number of premium themes, as well as a few that are free of charge, that are suitable for various businesses. Chances are excellent that you’ll find one that has the look and feel that you want, but if you don’t, there are many companies that offer customized Shopify store development. If you do find a theme you like in the Shopify store:
- Check the functionality of the theme and the reviews of existing users.
- Preview the theme in the Demo Mode.
- Get the theme by clicking “Publish as my Theme.”
4. Edit Your Shopify Store Settings
You can individualize and customize your store so that it doesn’t look like every other Shopify store that shares the theme that you chose. Some common modifications include:
- Homepage Carousel Slides
- Item Functionalities on Product Pages
- Color Schemes
- Font Choices
But there are many options that you can play around with to achieve the look you want. You may be tempted to modify every option, but be careful. We recommend starting with a clean uncluttered page and working from there.
5. Start Adding Products to Your Site
This might seem like obvious advice, but don’t launch or promote your store without being loaded with your products. If you’re curious about how your store is going to look once it’s online, use the demo mode. The last thing you want is for people to show up to your store before you have anything to sell.
6. Set Up Payments
You need to ensure that your potential customers will be able to use the payment methods that you offer when they make their purchases:
- Credit Cards, like Visa, Mastercard, and American Express
- PayPal, ApplePay, Square
- Dozens of third-party payment methods (And by dozens, I really mean that – Shopify has 100+ third-party payment providers you can connect your store to)
Keep in mind that the fees for using these services vary. Also, remember to include state and local taxes.
All e-commerce stores ship, so if this isn’t an option you’ve been offering in the past, you’ll need to explore the rates and how they will affect sales. Shopify’s admin section allows you to establish rules for shipping. If you offer too few options, you may lose sales, so consider giving two or three options for shipping. To access this feature in the admin section, go to “Settings” and then “Shipping” page.
8. Test Your System
Shopify stores are user friendly and designed so that you don’t have to be a web developer to build them, but there are a lot of variables and you’ll want to test them before going live. Shopify allows you to run a few fake transactions using their Bogus Gateway — that’s actually what it’s called. You can also test a real transaction with your own credit card. If you don’t want to take it too far, just cancel the transaction and refund it, so this test is free.
9. GO LIVE!
This is the exciting part, but don’t just turn your site on. Let the world know you’re selling online. That means:
- Updating your existing website and announcing your Shopify site
- Announcing your Shopify store on all social media platforms connected to your business
- Revisit your SEO marketing campaign to reflect your status as an e-commerce merchant
- Sending an announcement over your email list
- Putting up a sign at your physical storefront letting customers know that they can buy your wares online. (Particularly important during the economic shutdown).
Commitment to Helping Businesses
As a Miami internet marketing company that’s been in business for over ten years, On The Map Marketing knows what’s at stake for our business partners. We remain committed to giving our clients a competitive edge, whether that’s during the booming economy of the past several years or the financially uncertain times that we find ourselves in. We feel that Shopify can be an invaluable tool for many businesses and we are willing to provide guidance. If you have any questions, contact one of our Shopify experts for a no-commitment, free consultation. We’re here to help.