Your Corso Italia BIA is working hard to launch an e-commerce platform that any of our BIA business members can use to sell their products or services online. There will be NO cost to our members to participate as the BIA is covering all development and set-up costs as well as all ongoing Shopify monthly fees. We hope to launch by end of May but will be getting started with onboarding interested member businesses as early as next week! If you are interested, please sign up now and we will reach out to you with details on how to start the process.
How it will work
Each merchant will have their own online store and login, however, site visitors will be able to search the BIA-wide online storefront for what they are seeking to get results and select from all stores that offer that service or product. Each member business will be responsible for uploading and managing their online inventory, however, free assistance from the Digital Service Squad (DSS) at Digital Main Street (DMS) through the recently announced shopHERE program, will be available to teach and support your efforts to get started with your online sales (many of you are already familiar with Lana from the DSS who has been there to help our members with their online or social media presence). Each member business will still be responsible for credit card processing fees (2.9% + $0.30/transaction) as well as their own order fulfillment (customer delivery / pick-up) as well as respecting any restrictions associated with being open as they relate to Municipal or Provincial business guidelines or bylaws. Proceeds from each transaction get paid out to the Corso Italia BIA typically within 7 business days and the BIA will transfer those funds to your bank within 14 business days (less the credit card processing fees noted above). Corso Italia businesses that already have an online store can also participate with a profile page and link to their store.
Setting up this online platform was part of our newly developed strategic plan completed in December 2019, however, the roll-out was to happen in 2021. Given the current crisis, we have accelerated this schedule to roll it out as soon as possible. We understand that this may not be soon enough to make a serious dent in helping our merchants in the immediate short term, however, we expect that it will make our member business stronger in the long run and better able to weather any future economic downturns or a return of Shelter-In-Place restrictions.
As market researcher Sharon Woods recently noted in a Public Square Journal post,
Consumers are most loyal to stores with a physical location that also offer online and phone order delivery, promote through social media, and collect online sales. Businesses that offer online services today will stand a much better chance of attracting patrons back into their brick-and-mortar establishments in the future.
As local businesses, we are far better at and more capable of providing goods and services in a quick and timely manner than Amazon. Local residents in need of your goods can place an order online with you and pick it up within an hour or have it delivered within a few hours. People crave local experiences and are proud to support local business… we just need to make it easier for them to do so in a manner they’ve become accustomed to… online.
Sharon Woods goes on to note:
Many existing small businesses and merchants are quickly getting creative in finding ways to adapt and survive during this current economic downturn and crisis. If they aren’t already, they should be using this time to: build and launch websites; learn to use technology in ways that enable online purchases and deliveries; and build customer loyalties through the “halo effect” of “omni-channel” marketing.
If you are interested in joining our online store, please sign-up now to let us know. We’ll get back in touch with you to provide more details and to help get you started. Or feel free to email our BIA Coordinator Ozman Omar at Corso@TorontoCorsoItalia.com
Note Bene: We are also working on integration for Restaurants as well as a local delivery service model that can be shared by all businesses without paying the hefty fees (upwards of 30%) of Uber Eats or Skip-the-Dishes. Restaurant businesses will be able to link from the Corso Italia Shopify platform to their own existing store as well as host any items they wish to feature, promote or sell.