Over the last decade, we’ve seen an explosion of online retailers including Amazon, Wayfair, or eBay. There’s a lot to like about them, easy to buy from, next-day shipping, and open 24/7! This has resulted in a “Shop Local” trend that’s been going around, but I’m not above admitting I’ve bought stuff I didn’t even need on a Friday night with a beer in one hand and my phone in my other while I watch reruns of “The IT Crowd”

But what about all the local businesses? They desperately need us to shop local and at the end of the day, they provide a better experience, better customer service, less hassle to return things, and often, are similarly priced anyway. “Shop local,” I think is something we all agree is a good thing. We’ve all seen the studies showing nearly 70% of every dollar you spend locally stays inside the community thus being spent at other local businesses. We know that when we buy online all those profits are just going to some multi-billionaire down in California or Florida while they sit on their private beaches. But what if we buy online from local shops?

A long-time customer of ours, WMI Sports, has been pushing hard towards a hybrid Shop Local/Shop Online model for years. They have a storefront in Peterborough where they work, sell, and service all the products they offer their customers but after some hard work they’ve built up a multi-million dollar a year business with the help of eCommerce. When Evan started out selling online it was a difficult and expensive process for a small business to go through. He had licensing fees for the software, had to pay someone to manage the website, server costs, etc. In all, it was costing hundreds of dollars a month just to have the website up, and that’s before anyone even bought anything off it!

How the world has changed though, Evan has recently switched his whole site over to “Shopify” which is an eCommerce website designed specifically for small businesses! For significantly lower costs he has an easy to use, fully functional, secure eCommerce site to sell all his products and services from and his business continues to grow at an exponential rate, largely from the online sales while still maintaining the storefront his customers love. And by selling online it means he’s built a loyal customer base from coast to coast that can easily buy from him at their leisure. Perhaps on a late Friday night with a beer in one hand and their phone in their other while watching the “IT Crowd.”

This is not an isolated case, small businesses all over the country are starting to sell online to supplement their income from their Brick & Mortar locations and often they end up like Evan where the majority of their sales end up coming from the website.

How do I get started?

Shopify is a perfect example among a sea of companies providing this service now because in my opinion it’s the easiest to use and has the best service. Setting up a Shopify account is as simple as going to their website and signing up. From there you can either use their domain name like Jonathan.shopify.com for example or tie it to your business domain name like Evan did with WMIsports.ca

We always recommend using the Shopify domain until your site is completely ready to go and then cut over from your old site to the new one on Shopify. Or you could keep both by setting up what’s called a “sub-domain” like store.brock-it.ca and then just put a link on the current website to it. It’s a little more work and less seamless for your customers this way but if you’ve put a lot of content on your current website it might be your best option.

So the question you must ask yourself as a business owner is, why am I not selling online too? Give Brock IT a call today and we can help answer your questions related to eCommerce and help you propel your local small business to be a local ONLINE small business.

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