Setting Up an Online Store

Running a small business is hard—during an on-going pandemic it can feel near impossible. From limits to how many people may be in your store to customers not wanting to shop in person, small businesses are struggling all across the country. About 100,000 small businesses have closed their doors permanently due to COVID-19.

The pandemic has created an environment that requires you to adapt quickly or perish. Switching from a brick-and-mortar-only store to include an online shop can seem a monumental task when facing online giants like Amazon and retail behemoths like Target and Walmart.

But standing up an online store is easier than you think. It has actually gotten easier since the pandemic, with many point-of-purchase platforms setting up an easy transition for online retail. If your inventory is in their system, you can transfer the whole thing online.

With the holidays here, there is no time like now to set it up, even if it’s just bare bones. Here are a few options you can follow to get your products online, with minimal effort.

Website platforms

Wix and WordpPress offer user-friendly platforms to build and manage websites. Both offer options to stand up retail shops and the ability to do so within a half-hour. No matter how busy your schedule as a store owner, you can have an online presence over lunch.

Payment apps

Many of the payment apps that are great for small businesses like Square and Shopify also offer the ability to turn your point of sale system into the catalog for your online store. If you’re already using these apps, then you should have your offerings loaded into the system. Again, with a few clicks, you can have a ready-made site up and running in a matter of minutes. The benefit here is your payment system is already linked without any hassle.

Restaurants

Many of the restaurant delivery apps have pivoted to allow customers to order online and pick up at the restaurant free of charge. The downside is you might end up paying a fee for every order. But restaurants have an advantage: they already have a document with all of their items listed. Upload a copy of your menu to your website and social accounts and let people call in orders.

Marketing

No matter what your business, you need to market yourself. Customers won’t just happen to find you all the time. Social media is great because you can build a custom audience to target with ads, ad space is still relatively cheap, and you can showcase your goods. If you’re not already on social as a business, it’s a great step to take; a lot of people are turning to social to find local businesses and basic information like phone numbers, websites, and hours.

The most important part of your business is you. You started it with your passion. It is here today because of your drive. You’ve learned every step of the way, so keep doing it. Keep innovating, keep offering your customers what they want, keep adapting to their needs, and keep letting yourself shine in all you do.

Times are tough right now. There is no way to sugar coat it. And they’re going to be tough for the foreseeable future. These are only a few options, but hopefully, they give you some idea of how to set up the online portion of your business.

If you need help making ends meet, reach out to your credit union. The Paycheck Protection Program ended in August, but there are other options available and hopefully more on the way.

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