Virtually every business in America has been impacted in some way by the coronavirus crisis. Small businesses are among those hardest hit. Shopify, a popular platform for online merchants, wants to support its customers through the pandemic. The company has dedicated a COVID-19 web page with a list of ideas, options and resources that can help businesses through this difficult time, including the following:
- Shopify is making physical and digital gift cards available to all new and existing Shopify merchants. This gives customers an opportunity to support their favorite businesses, while improving cash flow for Shopify merchants.
- Shopify is providing $200 million in small business funding through its Shopify Capital program, currently available in the United States and the United Kingdom, as of March 30. Shopify is working with governments in other countries to expand the program. Merchants apply for the program online and usually have an answer within two to five business days. If approved, they will receive their funding within two business days.
- Shopify is providing an online COVID-19 discussion forum for small business owners to talk to each other about challenges and solutions.
- Previously, Shopify offered merchants a 14-day free trial. The company has extended the free trial period to 90 days, so merchants have more time to set up their online stores. This will be particularly helpful for brick-and-mortar stores who are shifting to online sales during the COVID-19 crisis. Depending on the subscription plan a new merchant selects, this free trial extension could save them $87 (Basic Shopify), $237 (Shopify) or $897 (Advanced Shopify) over the course of 90 days.
- The company is hosting virtual Shopify Meetups in cities around the world to “meet” other merchants, offer ideas and discuss challenges.
- Shopify has also written a number of blog posts about different revenue strategies, government relief programs, ideas how to sell gift cards and more, all accessible from their COVID-19 page.
In related news, amid speculation by The Motley Fool that Shopify is not going to weather the coronavirus crisis successfully, Shopify shared data insights and its current business outlook with investors yesterday.
“Shopify is analyzing the data across its platform for insights into how COVID-19 is affecting merchants’ operations in order to provide the most effective support, as well as to inform our own planning and decision-making during this period,” said Shopify in the April 1, 2020 news release.
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Notable highlights include:
- Brick-and-mortar stores impacted by the lack of shoppers are moving toward online stores.
- Merchants are offering deep discounts to boost sales.
- Shopify terminated thousands of merchants in March who were either price gouging or making false claims about COVID-19 related products like hand sanitizer and face masks.
In terms of its business outlook, Shopify is planning to share its first quarter 2020 financial results on May 6. The company finished 2019 strong and that trend carried over into the new year. However, due to the current situation surrounding the coronavirus, Shopify said it cannot predict what will happen next.
“Given the uncertainty surrounding the duration and magnitude of COVID-19, Shopify is suspending the financial expectations provided for full year 2020,” the company said.
Given the circumstances, Shopify seems to be doing what it can to support its merchants during this unprecedented time. None of us know what the next few months hold, how it will impact our families or our companies economically. Shopify is smart to suspend offering an outlook because any prediction has as much change of being accurate as a crystal ball. We just don’t know. We applaud Shopify for supporting its merchants, terminating merchants who tried to take advantage of the situation, and being honest about what investors can expect.