Without a doubt, the way we shop has changed on a massive scale since the start of the pandemic. In the first year of the pandemic, online shopping spending went up 30% from the year before (via Digital Commerce 360). Two years later, shopping from the comfort of our homes has become an expected option for most of us now. Living in a pandemic meant a lot of us relied on our goods coming to us, at least during those first few months. And once we realized the luxury of ordering online and having it arrive at your doorstep, we aren’t going to give that up any time soon. Not convinced? Check out 5 Reasons to Start Selling Online.

While we all have seen Amazon dominate the Ecommerce space, many people still want to support local but when local is only available in store, many still go with the more convenient option. As a local business, it can feel like a huge task setting up an online store so we’re going to break it down for you to show just how attainable and manageable it can be.

Here’s our 8 steps to help you start selling your products online this year:

Woman shopping in store, holding bottle and bag

1. Decide what products you are going to sell

If you have a boutique brick and mortar store with hundreds of niche products, focus on getting your top 25 best sellers online. From there, you can slowly add inventory while your online store is up and running and accepting orders. Wanting to have your entire inventory online when you launch can be an overwhelming task so let yourself establish your online following as you grow your online store.

Another thing to consider is that customers can be savvy shoppers when they shop online. They can compare prices, shipping costs, shipping times, and a multitude of other factors before deciding what online store to order their products from. Figure out what products you are going to sell in your online store and research to see if they are available elsewhere online. If you have your own product that is only sold in select brick and mortar stores, you will have the edge for online sales. However, if you are thinking of competing with one of the giants like “Amazon”, for everyday goods, your efforts might be better spent elsewhere.

People shopping for shoes online

2. Choose an ecommerce platform

There are many ecommerce platforms to choose from these days. Different platforms offer different features and at different price points. Our favourite one to work with is Shopify, for its highly secure, reliable interface and user-friendly backend that lets you effortlessly manage your store once it’s created. Shopify is an all-in-one platform that manages payment, inventory, shipping, marketing and a host of other awesome features.

As one of the most popular ecommerce platforms, it is highly flexible and easy to use, with over 6,000 apps available in the Shopify App Store to customize your online store to fit your needs. Starting at just $29USD per month, Shopify is our number one pick when we create ecommerce stores.

Man using his credit card to pay via his phone

3. Decide how you will accept payment

With Shopify, you are set to accept payment through all the major credit cards as well as Interac, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay and many others. Shopify has the added bonus of being an ecommerce giant that shoppers are comfortable shopping with. Shopify stores feel secure for shoppers and don’t leave people second guessing whether they should use their credit card on your site. If you want to link it with point-of-sale payment in store, Shopify has Point-of-Sale systems you can add on to connect your online and in store sales managing everything in one place.

Packages at someone's door

4. Determine a shipping method

Decide how much you want to charge for shipping, at what level you will offer free shipping and what carrier(s) you plan to use. Take some time to research similar industries and online stores to see what they charge and try and price your shipping to be competitive. With Shopify, you can manage all your orders in one place, allowing you to print shipping labels from multiple shipping companies, including Canada Post, and attach tracking information onto individual orders so both you and your customers can follow along as their package makes its way to them. You can also create local shipping profiles if you are able to accept order pickup or local delivery options, offering a more convenient option for your local customers.

Man working at computer

5. Don’t forget the legal stuff

The not-so-fun part of creating an online store is coming up with all of your store policies. Think about your return and exchange policy, shipping policy, terms and conditions and privacy policy. Customers will want to know the methods you offer for shipping as well as if they are able to return their purchase with ease. Make sure to include if customers have to pay return shipping or any other pertinent information in these sections. Having detailed policies in place gives customers a sense of security that they can safely purchase through your website and know what to expect for receiving their item(s).

Packing shoes into boxes

6. Add your products

The fun part starts when you begin adding products to your online store. Start with 10 and focus on professional looking images, detailed descriptions and a well-thought out organized catalogue. Make the shopping experience easy and straight-forward for your customers by creating different collections for browsing similar products, as well as including comprehensive filters so customers can narrow down what they are looking for on the page. Consider adding reviews if you have some already for social proof, creating size guides or anything else that might help a customer go from interested to completing a purchase.

Shopping online for clothes

7. Test, Test and Test Again

You’re almost there but before you push your new website live, don’t forget to test everything. Test what it’s like to land on your page and navigate to your products, add them to a cart and complete a purchase. Test how the confirmation emails look to customers when they have bought something, when their order has shipped and when they have completed a return or requested a refund. Make sure you have set up abandoned cart emails so that when someone starts the checkout process but then changes their mind, you can follow-up with a targeted email shortly after. If you are using Shopify, they have an excellent testing mode with test credit card numbers so you can complete the entire process and see what an order looks like on your backend as well as how it looks to the customer.

Woman on the phone, looking at products on her laptop

8. Promote your website

Now that you have your new store completely setup and tested, it’s time to share it with the world. Add it to your social media platforms, connect it to Facebook Commerce so that you can tag products in your Facebook and Instagram posts, and don’t forget to set up a Google My Business page for collecting reviews and sharing your physical location if you have one. If you set up your store in Shopify, you can link your store to Facebook Ads and begin marketing your store through paid advertisements. Once you have enough traffic, you can retarget customers after they have visited your store, or find similar customers based on the information gathered from previous visitors.

If you’re ready to take the next step and start selling online, reach out to learn how we can create a rock solid Shopify Store for your business. Book a complimentary strategy call today to chat with one of our experts!