As an office, we’ve been trying to brainstorm ways we can help ease the stress felt by our colleagues, clients, and friends as the world works to contain COVID-19. With everyone being asked to stay home and non-essential businesses told to shut their doors, it seems like a good time for businesses to start thinking about e-commerce.
This might be an easy place for a digital agency to try and hock their services, but we don’t want to do that. Why? Because it’s super attainable for you to achieve this on your own, without forking over your hard-earned bucks in a time where many of us are feeling financial strain. So, Kobot is here to empower you to pivot yourself to e-commerce!
No time like the present
Something we’ve been trying to work on for ourselves is being less precious about intimidating projects. Sometimes you have to release the store/website/piece of writing into the wild before it’s totally perfect. And that idea applies to this situation perfectly. So, if you’ve had to reduce your hours or shut down your bricks and mortar shop completely, now is the time to carpe that diem and set up your online shop ASAP.
You could spend weeks agonizing over getting it just right, uploading every possible version of every possible product and making the whole thing precisely duplicate your in-store experience. But don’t worry about that right now. You have a lot on your plate. So it’s better to set up a ‘bare minimum’ e-commerce site and just launch that thing!
This will help you get over the hurdle of doing the scary unknown thing—getting yourself online in the first place—and hopefully will also ease at least a little of your financial stress. Once things have settled down a bit more you can take your time updating and make it exactly how you want. Just start.
What platform do we recommend?
In our experience, Shopify is the quickest and easiest e-commerce option. We like it because it’s affordable, easy to use, and you can really hit the ground running with it. It isn’t a fully-featured CMS, but instead a dedicated, reliable, and powerful selling tool. For businesses that have bricks-and-mortar location(s), Shopify provides a variety of apps (https://apps.shopify.com) that can help bridge the gap between e-commerce and your retail store—for example by helping to coordinate curbside pickups or local delivery.
Here are a couple of examples of sites we’ve built on Shopify:
We definitely encourage you to check them both out 1) to get an idea of what your Shopify can look like and 2) as a #shamelessplug to give these awesome local companies some business. Being well fed and well dressed are going to help us all get through this, so really it’s a win-win.
Not into Shopify? Here are a few other platforms you can check out:
Maybe you’re already using a full-fledged Point of Sale system. Some of them (Lightspeed and Square both come to mind) offer really nice e-commerce add-ons, and they will connect to the system you’re already comfortable with.
How should you set it up?
Like we mentioned earlier, just do it. Start simple and you can improve as you go! Think of your online shop almost like a “startup”: prioritize the tasks that need to be done now, but consider it a work in progress!
At the beginning, you can get away with just adding your logo, address, and products (and shipping) and call it a day.
Then, once you’ve gotten over the biggest adjustment period, you can start making small tweaks to match your online presence with the in-person experience that your clients already know and love.
Some things you can do over time are work to bring the visual experience closer to your brand, fix the text so it matches your organization’s voice and tone, and integrate your Mailchimp if you have one.
Is this still way too much?
That is totally, 100% ok. There’s a lot going on right now. It’s ok if you’re overwhelmed. If you still need an e-commerce site, but feel like setting it up on your own is just a bridge too far right now, we’ve got your back.
We’ve done e-commerce for a few clients and we want to see you get through this, thriving. Which is why we’ve also set up Ask Kobot Anything—free, pro-bono consultations for small businesses and non-profits who are figuring this all out. So book a free online consult if you want!
We can’t wait to see what you all make!