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How to Sell Online with Shopify®

Wondering how to get a shopping cart on your website? Our Kelowna marketing agency shows you how to use Shopify®.

Wondering how to get a shopping cart on your website? Our Kelowna marketing agency shows you how to use Shopify®.

If we’ve learned anything in the early weeks of COVID-19, it’s that businesses can endure—and even thrive—in this new world if they are set up to sell their products or services online.

Are you thinking about creating an online store but don’t know where to start? Twin Creek Media has been designing e-commerce websites for years, and we’re here to help our friends across Kelowna, Penticton, and Vernon areas. There are many software platforms to sell online, but our top choice is Shopify—a world leader in the industry.  We have experience helping retailers venture into the world of e-commerce using the platform Shopify.

Let’s talk more about how to set up your very own online store, market your store and products, manage sales using a simple Shopify Shopping Cart payment system, and handle local pickups and deliveries with ease. When your business thrives, we all benefit.

How Does Shopify Help Your Business?

Shopify is an e-commerce platform that helps retailers sell their products or services online. Think of it as the digital version of your storefront and the foundation of your digital marketing efforts.

Benefits of e-commerce websites:

  • Manage an online catalogue of products
  • Create an additional revenue stream
  • Your online store is open 24/7—people can shop whenever they like
  • Inform locals what your store has available - presell to your hometown
  • Reach beyond your local customer base to other regions
  • Enable distance shopping in times like COVID-19
  • Allow customers to make purchases through a secure shopping cart
  • Enable delivery and pick up options
  • Track inventory and sales

Some of Our E-commerce Website Examples

Fresh Air

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This Kelowna sports equipment retailer has a couple of store locations, but uses e-commerce as a way to sell across Canada.  Locals also get an idea what brands and products they carry. 

Staff can quickly categorize their products, add discounts to sale items, or feature them as new products.

The Greenery Garden Centre

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This garden centre responded quickly to the changing shopping habits during the early days of COVID-19.  Adding on a Shopify catalogue to their existing website allowed people to see what was available in-store, browse, and shop.

Similar to how grocery stores sell over the internet, online ordering helps people shop in the comfort of their homes.  Once an order is placed, the Greenery team picks the plants from the greenhouse and notifies the customer when the order is ready for pickup.  This hybrid of e-commerce with "curb-side" pickup promotes safe social distancing at this time.

Okanagan Lavender Farm

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Want to reach shoppers across the country?  Across the world?  Shopify stores let you connect with more people who love your products.

This local lavender farm produces niche health & beauty products. To compete with the mainstream brands, they take professional photos to showcase their products and put a lot of effort into presentation and online customer service.  They've established a loyal following far and wide.

Nature's Pond

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Shopify websites are great for wholesale companies too.  Custom orders, inventory, discounts, and special fields allow for a great B2B user experience.

The shopping cart interface makes check-out a breeze.  Process credit cards, issue refunds, management shipments, and track everything. 

Shopify plays nice with Google Analytics too, so you can run business reports to inform your decisions.

How Much Does a Shopify E-commerce Website Cost?

This is such a difficult question to answer. It’s like asking how much a house costs… Could be $80,000 for a mobile home. Could be $800k for a house in a Glenmore or Black Mountain. Could be $8M for an Okanagan lakefront estate.  Helpful, right? (I see you shaking your head.)

Okay, some real numbers…

First of all, Shopify websites require a monthly subscription - see pricing here.

USD$29/mo. Are you a solopreneur?  At the very lowest end, you can signup for a Shopify account and do everything yourself… You’ll need to be a bit techie, a bit artsy, and have lots of time to invest.

$4,000 - $6,000. The typical cost for basic e-commerce sites or a basic bolt-on shop added to an existing website.

$6000 - $15,000. The typical range for an “average” small to mid-sized retailer in the Okanagan area that doesn’t need special website features.

$15,000 - $30,000.  The typical range for an e-commerce website for a company needing advanced features to match their specific products, sales processes, inventory control, or anything not standard.

$30,000 - $100,000. This is a big range, and quoting a project is usually a mini-project in itself.  At this price point, we’re talking about a fairly custom e-commerce website with bells and whistles to suit a company’s needs.

$100,000+. Twin Creek Media doesn’t work with projects of this scope, but we know of many sites costing hundreds of thousands.  Your sales are $10M+ per year. You’re in the enterprise level of e-commerce solutions at this point and this article isn’t for you!  Carry on, carry on…

How Can You Build a Shopify Online Store?

Remember what it took to set up your brick and mortar location? Well, establishing your online store has a whole list of to-do’s as well. The concept is pretty straight forward, but the getting setup is usually a team effort.  Roles include project management/strategy, website development, graphic design, data entry of your product/services, logistics & fulfillment, and finally, software training and technical support.

Basics you will need to get started:

  • Business logo, branding materials, fonts, colours
  • Photos of your products
  • Product titles, descriptions, variations, and prices
  • Shipping rules, return & exchange policies
  • Customer services channels, such as phone and email
  • Online payment gateway, such as Stripe, or a bank merchant account/payment provider

Next, you will need to open a Shopify account. You can either establish a new website or have Shopify added to your existing website.  Our web design company can help you with all the details needed for new and existing e-commerce websites.

Take Your Shopping Cart for a Test Drive

Data entry is often a big job, especially if you have 100s of products. It’s best to think about who will it manage it early on.

Once your products have been entered, you’re ready for testing the new shopping experience.

Testing (Mini) Checklist:

  1. Write all your customer service emails (order confirmation, status updates, etc).

  2. Get your friends and family to pretend they're customers.  Tell them to start shopping.  (Hint: they'll need the fake credit card info to test things).

  3. Add products to a Shopping Cart.

  4. Test your check-out process with some practice orders.

  5. Establish Point of Sale (POS) payment options.

  6. Setup your pick up and delivery options.

  7. Consider adding Live Chat to help with anticipated customer support questions.  (Pro tip: shoppers love live chat and it’ll save you a million emails back and forth).

  8. Collect feedback from your testers and make improvements to your categories, descriptions, etc.

  9. Practice, practice, practice… Make sure you get the training you need and have completed enough pretend orders to get the hang of everything before you flip the switch!

In late 2019, e-commerce retail trade sales amounted to almost 1.85 billion Canadian dollars, with approximately 28.1 million Canadians having made purchases online.

In late 2019, e-commerce retail trade sales amounted to almost 1.85 billion Canadian dollars, with approximately 28.1 million Canadians having made purchases online.

Marketing Your Online Store

Well done! Your store is ready! The smart business owner has reserved at least half of their budget for marketing and promotion—because “build it and they will come” isn’t a solid business plan (despite what the Kevin Costner taught us in Field of Dreams).

There are many ways digital marketing agencies help businesses promote their online stores. Twin Creek Media isn’t just a web design company… We’re here to help for the long haul with a full range of advertising & promotion services.

  • Search Engine Optimization - rank higher on Google, gain more website visitors, and more customers
  • Content Creation - fresh info for customers and for Google!
  • Reputation Management - online reviews, votes, thumbs up, thumbs down… people are talking!
  • Media Releases - create a buzz and establish authority with local media
  • Social Media Management - steer conversations on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube
  • Major Online Advertising Networks - Google ads, Facebook ads, Youtube ads, etc.
  • Okanagan Online Advertising Networks - Daily Courier, Capital News, Castanet, KelownaNow, online directories like YellowPages, InfoTel, or specialty sites like Tourism Kelowna
  • Traditional Media Planning/Buying - Okanagan radio, TV, newspaper, and magazines
  • Email Newsletters - grow an email list and send out news & promos
  • Direct Mail - mail postcards, flyers, unaddressed or addressed bulk mail through Canada Post
  • Phone Call Tracking - know what’s making your phone ring
  • Monthly Performance Reporting - know what’s working and what’s not and optimize your budget

See some other ways to communicate with your customers during these changing times by reading our recent article, Business Communication Ideas During COVID-19.