Hattie was a featured stop on the Women-Owned Business Tour, sponsored by Prospera and the Montana Women's Business Center.
It wasn't the only question I was asked that day, but it was the only one about my sales system. Other questions were about the things you'd expect: "How did you get started?" "How did you decide to open a retail store?" "When did you hire your first employee?"
So Amy's question stopped me in my tracks. I was just a couple of years into Shopify, and I was loving it. It worked so well that I didn't think about it much. Until I was asked about it.
Fast forward a year, and Amy stops by again.
We make a date to meet for wine. She confesses.
She has a binder. A few binders, actually. And she is spending 20 hours per month -- outside of retail hours -- keeping track of sales, consignment payouts, inventory, and bookkeeping.
Her in-store sales are written by hand. Her inventory management is tedious because she sells art on consignment. She has a website and sells online, but the in-store and online systems don't speak, so he has to manage that inventory manually.
I show her my system: The Shopify Admin page, where you can see today's sales, broken down into sales channels (in-store, online, Facebook, Instagram, etc). With a click, I can break down vendor sales, view inventory, or add a new product to my website. In addition to it being my website and my point of sale, Shopify is my credit card processing and my CRM. From here I can ship a package, add a customs form, and automatically email the tracking info to my customer. It does everything, all in one tidy little package that costs as little as $29 per month.
She loves it and says she really should switch, after summer.
I tell her she can't wait until after summer (Summer in Montana, by the way, is the whole reason we live here. It's perfect. It's heaven. It's worth enduring 10 months of winter. And it's more precious than gold).
"Why spend 40 hours of your summer with a binder in your lap?" I ask her. "Let's take care of this before Memorial Day!"
We jumped into it in May. I transferred her existing products from her Squarespace site and Amy took on the task of adding her in-store inventory to the system. She picked up an iPad and a free card reader from Shopify and started selling in-store in June.
Amy ended up with a new website where you can shop by medium or by the artist. It has a gift registry and wishlist capabilities. In-store or online, you can earn rewards for cash off your next purchase. Amy can look up your old orders and sell you a gift card that you can send or receive via email. Shopping in-person for art but want to measure your space before you buy? Amy can email you a link to the product so you can complete the purchase at home. And if you're on Instagram or Facebook, you can shop Amy's products directly from her posts.
And that's just what the customer sees. Shopify keeps track of inventory, whether wholesale or consignment, and lets Amy run a report with her vendor payouts each month. She can easily see which special order items are still pending and add each customer to her email list without any extra steps. She can keep track of her employees' sales via her POS, and even notify her employees via email of online sales that need to be shipped.
I found it very rewarding to help Amy move her system to Shopify, mostly because of the amount of time it saved her. I'm passionate about efficiency because I know first hand that a small business owner has a hundred things on her plate. If just one thing can be made more efficient, it frees up time to work on something else. Or for a much-deserved break.
Here's what Amy has to say about her experience:
"It was overwhelming to think about switching my website, bookkeeping, inventory tracking -- basically my entire business to a new system. I knew it was time to update so I reached out to Tessa and now I just wish I had done it sooner!
She made the whole process run smoothly and has been there for all of my endless questions, confusion, and basic hand-holding. There were so many options and the more Tessa told me about Shopify, the more I knew it would take my art gallery into the future with its robust capabilities.
I used to spend hours each week updating the various programs that tracked our sales and website. Shopify does all of those tasks automatically so now I have so much more time to concentrate on the most important aspects of my business.
My sales have gone up and my business has improved in ways I could not have foreseen. It's very exciting!"