What do you need to set up Shopify in Canada?

Setting up an eCommerce store can be expensive and takes time. In my country of birth – South Africa – it is next to impossible to take online payments and the postal service is unsafe. But in Canada people are keen to “buy local”, and the banking and logistics infrastructure is very friendly to online stores.

Shopify is a Canadian company, so it is Canada-ready!

General

  • Company name
  • Company registration number for invoices

Taxes

  • PST for Canada is a preset – it needs your PST number.
  • Don’t forget you need to charge tax on shipping rates in Canada.
  • GST and other taxes will be based on your province, and they are also presets.

Location

  • Your own locations
  • If you fufill via a 3rd party, you will need their location

Shipping and Delivery

  • Local pickup is great for existing bricks-and-mortar stores. Chat to a local store near you in a similar business – perhaps they will keep a stock of your products?
  • Local delivery – consider delivering it yourself and meet your local customers.
  • Canada Post is inexpensive, and it’s all set up for you with default pricing. Don’t forget to add the cost of packaging.
  • Other Options
    • Flat rate (same price no matter what they buy)
    • Price-based (the more they spend, the less they pay)
    • Weight-based (you will need to add a weight to each product)
    • Free shipping (People love it – but you might find your prices don’t look competitive against companies who move their profit margin into their shipping fees)
    • DHL and others are available
  • Check if any of your suppliers will do fulfillment for you

Checkout

  • Unless you offer tracking, you can disable Accounts. Many people hate setting up an account first.
  • If you don’t have accounts, customers can receive shipping updates via the Shopify app
  • You will need to add an address where you will ship from, to get the right delivery costs.
  • You will need to tick “fulfilled” under status as each order is delivered.
  • Do you have Mailchimp? “Sign up for our mailing list” is offered at checkout

Payments

  • Shopify Payment fees are shown on their website. It needs your credit card information to pay out.
  • If you have store pickup you can have COD.
  • Bank Deposit. The order must only be dispatched after it appears in your bank account.
  • There are several local payment gateways, including RBC’s Moneris.

Legal

  • Refund policy
  • Privacy policy
  • Terms of Service
  • Shopping policy

Useful functionality

  • Link to your Mailchimp account to add email addresses to receive promotions
  • Integrate with your website

Products

  • Categories are called collections. They could be brands, or just groups of products. I recommend creating a category “Featured” for items that you show on your home pages. It’s easier to manage them that way.
  • Products can be imported off a spreadsheet or CSV file, but the process is not easy and open to errors, especially if you have sizes or colours (sub-products).
  • What you will need for each product
    • Exact Product Name
    • Brand
    • Weight
    • Package dimensions
    • Price excluding PST
    • Sales Description
    • Custom Shipping – fragile, must be kept upright
    • Custom Fulfillment
    • Product Photograph

Things to think about before launching your store…

Appropriate products

  • Do your customers comfortable about buying over the internet?  Do they have a credit or debit card?
  • Do you have great photos of your products?
  • How difficult is your product to transport? Is it heavy or breakable?
  • How expensive is your product – people don’t like buying high priced goods online, and you might be over their daily credit llimit.
  • Are other online resellers selling the same products?
  • How do your prices compare – especially once you add shipping and packaging?

Branding

The site needs to make the RIGHT impression for your buyer. You might need it to say “expensive”, you might want it to say “big bargains”. The look and feel needs to attract attention as well as establish your brand and credibility.

There are several free templates with Shopify, and I suggest waiting for your first orders before investing in a custom design.  Learn first what customers want.

Passing trade

A store needs passing trade – this is why most small physical shops are found in busy shopping malls. The internet has some passing trade, but there is also a lot of competition and it’s easy to find with a search. You will need to advertise both online and offline to get buyers to stop by for a visit.

Customers need to feel safe

Post your contact details clearly. If all the shopper can see is an anonymous email address and contact form, they won’t risk buying.

  • Immediately deal with problems and complaints.
  • Protect their privacy and don’t misuse their email address
  • Be clear about your T&Cs, and don’t hide exclusions and limited warranties.
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