Hi, pals and fans and internet weirdos, maybe some exes or haters and probably my mom!
Welcome to chapter two of our unfolding story: "Maple Street, The Journey to Ecommerce: a small business owner's story of survival in the time of covid"
So it's been about a week since we went live on this new site, which probably goes utterly unnoticed by anyone.. but wow that was a massive undertaking. There were a lot of boring reasons why we moved our website over but I would actually like to give a totally unsolicited shout out to my point of sale provider, ShopKeep, who have provided over 5 years of excellent service to my business with the best most robust app I've tried, including the most competitive and fair merchant processing rates, access to working capital at reasonable rates, going to bat for their customers during covid-19 and helping us secure PPP funding, while also providing us ways to get paid online and NOT charging us more to do any of this, all the while having staff available to help us. Honestly five million stars to ShopKeep. This is how tech should be working with small business, not like a lot of their competitors who are charging fees and denying capital many long term small business customers.
I think that's worth pointing out during this time, because on the other side of this... companies who truly worked to support community and small business will big stronger than those who don't!
TL/DR: ShopKeep includes a fully hosted integrated BigCommerce website with our monthly service fee, but since I was already hosted elsewhere before that feature was added, we just never got around to moving everything over and covid gave us both time and impetus to do so and here we are!
Getting over the hurdle of actually going live on this site, was a relief and we've been able to add a LOT of updates in our second week. New products and pictures added daily, we're organizing things and making it easier to navigate the site and GIFT CARDS are now live! There's more details here, but you may now purchase cards and redeem giftcards and store credits, no matter if you purchased them online or in-store, with some limitations. Read more about that here.
The sheer amount of tedious data reorganization and entry is definitely not something we were prepared for, but it's starting to look like a real website here and I hope we can start to make it feel more like our shop here too.
I spent a bunch of time - wayyyy too much time, and at strange hours - tweaking small details on our new site like customizing my color palette and programming a chat bot named Pam to sound kind of like Eden or myself might sound - to try to make this site feel personal and real and alive like us at the shop. I want your shopping experience here to be as much like it is in our brick and mortar and I am excited about some of the features on our new site that allow us to still help you one on one. So by all means, say hi in the chat bot! It's kind of a clunky mechanism but basically you can talk to a bot or you can just type and hit send anything you wanna ask or say and we'll see your messages and get back to you! Right now it's sporadic but generally during the daytime someone will get back to you and going forward we are hoping to have regular scheduled chat hours.
You can also create a customer account which is a super cool feature because you can make a WISH LIST and send it to people, just like that stupid big ecommerce retailer, only this time its something super cool from a cool local shop like us... and there is going to be some really cool merchandise coming up. Keep your eyes out!
We have no idea what's going to happen with the brick and mortar shop at this point. We don't foresee things going from 0-100 right away even when we do start to reopen. I am really committed to adapting our business to guidelines that limit our capacity for customers in the store and meeting and exceeding all requirements for cleaning. With clothing, we have to sanitize everything that anyone tries on before anyone else can try it on and it's going to be a slow and clunky process to figure that out too.
I'm envisioning this website becoming a meeting place that integrates directly with our brick and mortar as we grow and learn and change and move through this big weirdness that is covid-19. We're gonna try to make videos and cool fun stuff and use this as a way to connect with our customers more, not keep us apart. We really miss our conversations and getting to know people and learning about our community. We miss seeing what you're getting from our other neighbors' shops and where you're eating and you favorite bars to get drinks... and we want to keep that going as best we can online.
Thanks for coming here and if you're reading this far, you're a true champion, if you type "true champion" and your email address in the chatbot, I'll put 10 bux in store credit in your online shop account. Try it!
Hope you are healthy and sane and finding interesting ways to spend your time!