New Help for Local Dance Stores That Want to Also Sell Online

Online selling, which offers your physical store a lifeline when in-person shopping is impossible, may end up being a vital part of building a more sustainable dance retail business, too. Here’s how to get a jump-start.

Mother and daughter sitting on couch in living room at home looking at a laptop computer together.
With stay-at-home orders in force, local dance stores can still reach their customers if they have at least some products online. Getty Images

As a local dance retailer whose store had to close due to COVID-19, you likely have been using the new-found time to check off longstanding items on your to-do list—including starting or upgrading your online sales. Now online shopping platforms are stepping up to help, offering new programs for smaller retailers to establish themselves as omnichannel merchants. If you’re still looking for the easiest or best way to jump-start online sales, here are four new services or platform features to consider.

Shopify Launches a New POS

The shopping platform used by many small brick-and-mortars to unify in-store and online sales has launched a new point-of-sale system called POS Pro, which it’s offering free until October 31, 2020. In tune with the new reality of shopping, it includes “buy online, pick up at curbside” and local delivery options when customers check out. Shopify reports that in just two weeks in March, its merchants “saw a 10-fold increase in sales when they started offering local delivery or buy-online-pickup-in-store.” The new POS also has improved reporting on daily sales, average order value, average number of items per order, top-performing products and product types, and best performing salesperson—all accessible from the mobile app. At a time when managing cash flow is so critical, you can use these reports to quickly make improvements, for instance by bundling or discounting slow-moving products. If you’re already a Shopify POS merchant, upgrade through the POS app. If you’re new to Shopify, plans start at $29/month; the POS Pro add-on, after October 31, costs $89/month. 

Pinterest Becomes Even More Shoppable 

Pinterest has launched an updated app with Shopify that lets you upload an entire catalog of products from your Shopify store and turn them into shoppable Product Pins on Pinterest. The app makes it easy to set up and distribute products through Pinterest, with or without ads, and includes reporting and tracking results. Pinterest has seen engagement with its shoppable Product Pins increase 44 percent during COVID-19 lockdowns. With millions going to Pinterest with the specific intention of planning purchases, this is another opportunity to reach a large new audience with your dancewear merchandise.

eBay Creates Accelerator Program to Get Brick-and-Mortars Online

On April 1, eBay announced it was investing up to $100 million in Up & Running, an accelerator program designed to help transition retailers that don’t have an e-commerce presence to selling online. Through the program, new business sellers on eBay will get a basic eBay store free for three months, and selling fees will be waived for the first 500 items sold during that period. “We’ve created Up & Running to accelerate the start-up time frame for retailers opening online stores during these unprecedented times,” said Jordan Sweetnam, Senior Vice President, eBay North America, at the launch. “eBay was built on the simple premise that connecting buyers and sellers around the world creates economic opportunity, and this is exactly what we need to be doing—now more than ever.” The company will also offer marketing help, mentoring and educational webinars, including this one tomorrow

Google Shopping Offers a Boost to Small Sellers

In a big change, Google is making it free for any business that sells its products online to list their inventory on Google Shopping. Previously, merchants had to pay for listing each product, and many smaller businesses couldn’t afford to do this at scale. Now, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist mainly of free listings, which could help your store better connect with consumers, whether you advertise on Google or not. “With physical stores shuttered, digital commerce has become a lifeline for retailers,” said Google’s president of commerce Bill Ready in announcing the change. “Solutions during this crisis will not be fast or easy, but we hope to provide a measure of relief for businesses and lay the groundwork for a healthier retail ecosystem in the future.” For more information, go to the Google Merchant Center.

The Bottom Line

Even after in-store shopping resumes, retailing will continue to be reinvented, and successful retailers will adapt to new consumer behaviors, just like they always have. As a local dance retailer, think of online and social sales as part of a newly imagined business model that makes your business stronger, even as you continue to deliver the same attentive customer service and product knowledge you always have.