The COVID-19 pandemic shifted our world in unprecedented ways, one of them being the change in how we shop. Some estimate that the pandemic accelerated e-commerce growth by four to six years. Businesses that weren’t online were not able to take advantage of this boom—ShopHERE powered by Google wants to make sure that this never happens again.
As Canada continues to re-open the economy, the days of ‘Sorry, We’re Closed’ are still vivid in many small business owner’s minds—and for some, still a reality. Putting your business online can ensure that you stay open even when your doors are closed.
More so, customers are able to interact with your business from the comfort of their own homes: no masks, no social distancing, no lines to wait in. Darryl Julott, Managing Lead of Digital Main Street, the gas behind ShopHERE, says putting customer needs first has never been more important.
“We live in a world where the customer is number one. They hold all the power, whether it’s online or in store—everyone is fighting over their attention,” he said. “Putting your business in a position to succeed is now about making sure that you’ve got all the sales channels that your customer wants to interact with you on.”
How ShopHERE Works
Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE powered by Google program helps small businesses tackle the internet. Through building an online store for free with an extended 90 days on Shopify, small businesses are given the opportunity to explore the e-commerce sphere and expand their offerings.
Small businesses make up 97.9 per cent of businesses in Canada, and for many small business owners, exploring the online sphere can be difficult, “A lot of it is very unknown, it’s brand new to them—it’s scary,” said Julott. With ShopHERE by Google, business owners are able to work with Digital Main Street staff to build their online presence.
Julott built his career in the small-business sector, and is familiar with the importance of having a support system—those who have used the ShopHERE powered by Google program seem to agree, “A lot of what we’re hearing is the benefit of having someone to take them through that process,” he said.
While the ShopHERE powered by Google program was born from the pandemic, Julott and Digital Main Street have been aimed at helping small businesses undergo a digital transformation for almost five years. Throughout most of that time, the Digital Main Street team was just Julott and one other colleague.
Now, the team consists of 300 recent graduates and students who are the main point of contact for business owners during their online transition. By expanding their team, Digital Main Street hopes to complete its goal of helping 50,000 small businesses go online through the ShopHERE powered by Google program.
“It’s been this kind of labour of love where we’ve just been building and building and building,” said Julott. “Now to see the impact it’s having and the number of businesses that are receiving support and the number of job opportunities we’re creating for recent grads is very, very cool.”
Currently, the ShopHERE powered by Google program has helped approximately 3,000 small businesses develop their online presence, and Julott said he’s confident the program will continue to grow.
While the world grapples with the ‘new normal’, small business owners should consider going online to maximize sales and customer outreach. ShopHERE powered by Google will be there to help you do it.