Retail during COVID-19 : How to take your offline store online

The current situation in India, due to a lockdown to cope with the Coronavirus, has all businesses feeling the pain to varying degrees, but it’s independent retailers that are hurting the most. At Shopify, our immediate priority is to help retailers shift from brick-and-mortar to online, so they can weather this storm and build a more resilient business.

Even lightweight solutions, like creating a simple Shopify store to offer pickup at store to your customers, can eventually lead to a more holistic shift to selling all or most of your products online. 

Below, we’ll outline the essential steps to get your brick-and-mortar business online. You'll learn how to treat your homepage like your storefront and transition some of your physical store experience onto your product pages—and we'll include additional resources to help you every step of the way.

How do I create an online store? 

1. Start a Shopify 90-day free trial

The first step is to visit shopify.in to start your online store with an extended 90-day free trial.

Here you’ll choose your store name, which will become the URL or domain name that your customers will use to shop from your store. We recommend the Basic plan to start with, but you can always upgrade as you see fit.

Note: You'll need to add your credit card or PayPal address. Since you’re on a 90-day free trial, you won't be billed for the duration of the trial period, and we’ll send you a reminder before your trial ends.

Resources:

2. Choose a theme 

Find the right theme, or website template, for your online store in the Shopify Theme Store. You can start with a free theme built by Shopify, or you can purchase a theme developed by one of our Partners. 

You want synchrony between your brick-and-mortar store and online presence, so try browsing themes by collection or industry and choosing one that best-fits your brand. Of course, no theme is restricted to any industry, it’s just helpful to get you started quickly. You can always customize your theme later. 

Prep your essential pages

The faster you make your online store available, the sooner customers will be able to continue purchasing your products. Focus on the basics: make sure your store features recognizable aspects of your business (like your logo or brand colors) and makes it easy for people to browse and buy.

No need to worry about the frills. Your priority is to get your products online and sell your in-store inventory. Here are the pages we recommend creating before you launch:

Homepage

Treat your homepage like your retail storefront. Shoppers use the homepage to discover new offers and promotions, and navigate to product pages. Consider having a banner or notification bar that shares crucial information with customers, like what purchase or shipping options you've made available, or how they can support you with a gift card purchase.

Shipping FAQ

Recent supply chain challenges have been affecting shipping services in unpredictable ways, your customers may have a few shipping-related questions for you. Ask around to see how other local businesses are dealing with their Shipping FAQ at this time. It's important to share any extra steps you're taking to keep customers safe as you ship orders to their door, such as added precautions when you prepare or package your products.

Return and exchange policy

A written return policy allows you to establish clear, consistent guidelines for how customers can replace or refund their purchase. Dealing with return and exchange requests on a case-by-case basis isn't sustainable, and can add unnecessary complexity (and cost) to your operation.

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