E-commerce, the spare tire for SMEs?

(Toronto) The pandemic has forced many small businesses to turn to online selling.

Posted on Jan 10, 2021

Tara Deschamps
The Canadian Press

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said one-third of small businesses in the country offered internet sales in November.

Approximately 152,000 small businesses went into e-commerce from March to November. One in five independent businesses say they rely more on this avenue for survival.

Small business owners need to work hard, spend a lot of money and reorganize their operations to continue to attract customers.

For example, some had to change their products to make sure they were not damaged during delivery. Others have played virtual reality to offer accessories to clothes. Some need to learn to master coding, social media and online payment systems.

And many have shown great spirit of initiative.

Kiki Lally, for example.

The Calgary businesswoman has launched a craft studio, despite the recession in Alberta. His company offers art classes and animation at birthday parties. And when the COVID-19 measures resulted in the closure of the business last year, Ms.ako Lally approached the crisis with paintbrushes, yarn and a bit of creativity.

So he founded DIY Delivery, a website where he sells craft kits. He quickly discovered that it wasn’t that easy.

“Suddenly you have to learn e-commerce and know inventory. We need to make kits, videos and a YouTube channel,” says Mako Lally. Even delivery logistics is not easy when you cannot find every corner of your city. »

Catherine Choi, the owner of a gift shop in Toronto, has to turn to… photography.

His business was selling some of his products on the internet before the pandemic started, but only 15% of them went off the site.

Mako Choi bought himself a projector before he started taking pictures with his entire inventory. “It takes a long time,” he admits. Currently, less than half of our products are likely to be online. »

Placing items online is a cumbersome task, as the store does not have a traditional checkout system and still uses outdated ledgers and filing cabinets to keep track of inventory.

Mako Choi moved his warehouse closer to home so he could work late at night processing orders, but that didn’t solve all the problems.

“If someone wants a card that only has one left in our Scarborough warehouse, you need to know how to take it to where the customer wants it,” Ms.ako Choi.

Dealing with so much change can be very stressful for merchants who can feel “overwhelmed,” says Darryl Julott, chief executive at Digital Main Street, which helps them digitize their businesses.

“I talk to business owners who are trying to create a website. Every time they ask for help from a company, they can’t answer their questions and they don’t know what to do,” he said.

In recent months, the company founded in 2014 has helped many entrepreneurs set up accounting software, email systems and online stores. According to Mr. Julott, the biggest hurdle they face is often related to accounting or where they live in relation to their business.

Many businesses still use paper registers. Every sale and adaptation requires them to travel to their office or store, which can make electronic transactions cumbersome and time -consuming, he explains.

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