Shopify Deploys New Tools For Online Selling During COVID-19

Entrepreneurs struggling to keep their businesses alive amid COVID-19 demands or feeling underserved by financial institutions across the country are about to get a helping hand from Shopify Inc.

To help entrepreneurs “sustain” their businesses, the Ottawa-based e-commerce giant said on Wednesday it was launching a handful of business management and sales tools, including giving its merchants the option of leaving customers “buy now, pay later” and tip.

Craig Miller, Product Manager for Shopify, said some of the new features and products were in the works long before the pandemic, but others were envisioned or accelerated as entrepreneurs rushed to pivot their businesses to models. online while suffering loss of income, time off and layoffs. .

“It almost became 2030 overnight,” he told The Canadian Press. “Some of the things that we anticipated to be important over the next few years became super important overnight, so we tried to equip our traders as much as possible to deal with this kind of situation.”

Shopify launches were shared at Reunite, a virtual event hosted by the company in place of its annual Unite conference, where senior executives at the company typically unveil major product announcements. Unite, which was scheduled to be held in Toronto in May, was canceled in March due to COVID-19.

The pandemic turned out to be a boon for Shopify, which overtook the Royal Bank of Canada to become Canada’s most valuable publicly traded company in May.

Its inventory now regularly reaches over $ 1,000 in transactions, and the company boasts that more than a million businesses – Shopify calls them merchants – are now using its offerings.

“It seems a little strange at first glance, but we are seeing grocery stores and restaurants using Shopify,” Miller said.

He also noticed that the number of local orders that Shopify merchants received each day on average increased by 176 for the six weeks leading up to April 24, just as physical distancing and work-from-home orders were implemented in many countries.

Other tools

Shopify believes businesses could get an extra boost from its announcements on Wednesday, revealing that merchants will be able to tip and set fees, minimum order prices, and distance radii for deliveries.

The company began allowing merchants to sell gift cards in recent weeks and partnered with Facebook Inc. on Tuesday to unveil a new free tool to help businesses create a personalized online storefront for Facebook and Instagram.

Later in the year, those in the US will be able to offer a “buy now, pay later” and access Shopify Balance, a business account that promises a clear view of cash flow and the ability to pay bills and track spending. It will come with a “balance card” with cash back, shipping and marketing discounts, and no monthly fees or minimum balances. Merchants can use it to make purchases or withdraw from ATMs.

Shopify has not specified when the service will be available to Canadian merchants.

Libra is for the two in five merchants who Shopify says use their personal bank accounts and business cards and others who find banking products aren’t designed to meet the needs or flexibility demanded by retailers. entrepreneurs.

“It becomes very difficult for them to separate their business from their own personal bank accounts and it causes all kinds of problems, for example, when they need to get financing … and in some cases it affects their score. credit, ”said Meunier.

Despite Shopify’s partnership with Facebook, it still positions itself to take on other tech giants, including Inc.

Shopify’s distribution center network, which launched last year to help U.S. merchants lower shipping costs and ensure timely deliveries, is in direct competition with the Seattle-based giant.

The Shopify network has just started accepting applications from merchants after completing an early access stage.

“The response was almost bigger than expected,” Miller said. “We have just been bombarded with merchants who want to use it.”

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