As a small business, what 2020 has taught us is the importance of having an online presence. Pre-pandemic, businesses with brick and mortar stores may not have necessarily needed an online store as their business was built around in person shopping. But with lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, business owners have come to realize that having a web presence is no longer a nice to have but a must have.
Building a website, let alone one with ecommerce functionality can be a daunting task. There are many ecommerce platforms which makes it “easier” to do but it’s still pretty much a DIY project. Thanks to Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE program, you can have a professional looking ecommerce website created for free! The program also assists businesses who wants to upgrade their current website.
The ShopHERE program is supported by the federal government, the province of Ontario, with additional support from corporate sponsors like Google, Microsoft, Shopify, Facebook, Intuit Quickbooks and Square, just to name a few.
To be eligible, businesses must have less than 10 full-time employees (or 25 employees if a restaurant), and be a registered business in Ontario. The entire process takes approximately 2-6 weeks and includes training in digital marketing, shipping and inventory management. Depending on the needs of the business, ShopHERE uses either Shopify or Square as the ecommerce platform.
ShopHERE will create your online store for free, however you will be responsible for any monthly fees associated with the platform. At this point we don’t know when the program will end, so if you are interested, be sure to apply as soon as possible.
You can see examples of ShopHERE websites here and learn more about the ShopHERE program here.