Flower Shop Flourishes With Help From The ShopHERE Program
The COVID-19 pandemic left many business owners scrambling for resources and help to keep their business afloat during these unprecedented times. This was the case for Melanie Hill, who was looking for support for her small business. Due to wedding cancellations and funeral cutbacks, her small floral shop was greatly affected. While searching for support, she came across the ShopHERE Powered by Google Program in February and began reading about what was offered. Shortly after applying, she was notified of her approval and began her journey with the ShopHERE Program.
Hill states that although she did have a website before signing up for the program, it only showcased her shop's services and designs and did not allow for online orders. By early March, she was contacted by her eCommerce Coordinator Shannon. They discussed the different platform options and Shannon followed up by sending Melanie more information to make an informed decision.
“Working with her was so easy! She listened to my needs, my concerns, and my fears and assured me that I need not worry; she would hold my hand the whole way.”
Melanie added that she enjoyed being able to be a part of the process of creating a professional website that she could sell her products on. “We worked together for several weeks, and she would assign me homework, and when I submitted what she was asking from me, she would incorporate everything into my new website. I had mentioned that I would like to go live before Mother's Day so we could get used to accepting online orders and all that it would entail. She assured me she could make that happen.”
Following some tweaks and finalizations, Melanie and her Coordinator Shannon launched her online store. Within hours of going live, Melanie started receiving orders.
“For so many years, I ran my business by phone orders and walk-ins. This added another dimension to my business at a time when we really needed it.”
Fast-forward to Mother’s Day, Melanie was shocked by the number of orders she received. “It was like nothing we ever experienced! The orders just kept coming, online and by phone, because customers [who] had been on our beautiful website but still wanted to talk to a human.” The Thursday before Mother’s Day, they had to shut down the website for pre-orders for fear they wouldn't have enough stock to fill their pre-orders. By Saturday, they had to inform callers that they would be making bouquets to sell starting at 9 am Sunday, and it was first come, first serve.
Needless to say, Melanie's shop was pretty much sold out on Mother's Day. “I went home to my Family that afternoon exhausted but so grateful to everyone involved in this success! I was so excited to share my success with my Coordinator, and she was so happy for our success.” Melanie has expressed nothing but gratitude and appreciation for the ShopHERE Program and her eCommerce Coordinator Shannon.
“Shannon went over and above what I was expecting. This was really scary for me to entrust my online presence to a complete stranger, but as we continued to work together, I could sense her enthusiasm and excitement at what [we were creating]. She always made me feel welcome to ask any question, and she walked me through every step, sometimes more than once. She has been incredible and invaluable!…[There is an] online shopping world, and I was missing out until the ShopHERE Program. I will forever be thankful to Digital Main Street and the ShopHERE Program! I am excited for the future of my small business and proud of my ability to pivot and join the online shopping world while still offering small business charm to my in-store and over-the-phone customers. Thank you, ShopHERE!”
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Yellow Pages and Lightspeed.
A $7.45 million from the Province of Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19 in Northern Ontario.