Small businesses are often hit the hardest during times of uncertainty. As the COVID-19 pandemic compels people to engage in social distancing to safeguard our communities, an unfortunate side effect is that many businesses are left in a difficult position. Declines in foot traffic and mounting expenses weigh heavily on business owners and staff.
Shopify is steadfast in our support of small businesses during these challenging times, and we're actively looking for ways we can alleviate this pressure.
To start, we're enabling our gift cards feature on all Shopify plans indefinitely to give communities another way to support small businesses.
We hope this helps alleviate some of your cash flow constraints during this time, though we know it's not the only adjustment you'll need to make in the weeks ahead. Additional content, tools, and support will be provided in our COVID-19 resources center.
Why gift cards?
Abrupt declines in sales are hard to manage because expenses still need to be paid: wages, rent, utilities, and critical supplies. This leaves businesses vulnerable with cash going out, but less cash coming in.
Many local communities have responded in support by purchasing digital gift cards from their favorite businesses.
Offering gift cards gives customers a way to easily support you today. In the short-term, this provides customers with a safe option to make a purchase they can redeem at a later date, which can help free up cash flow for your business.
Remember that because this is an advance on future sales, you won't receive cash once customers redeem their gift cards. And in your Shopify reports, gift card purchases won’t appear in your Sales report until they are redeemed. You can view gift card purchases in your Finances Reports in the Liabilities section.
How long will gift cards be available on all Shopify plans?
There is currently no end date set. Extending the gift card feature to all Shopify subscription plans is designed to help merchants during the economic difficulties resulting from COVID-19. The feature is intended to be available until the impact of the virus begins to subside, and businesses start operating without interference from the virus. You will receive a notice before the gift card feature is removed from your plan.
What happens if I change to a subscription plan where gift cards aren't available?If the gift card feature is removed from your plan, then all existing gift cards for your business can still be redeemed in your checkout. You can still manage existing gift cards, but you can't create any new gift cards.
How to use gift card sales to supplement your cash flow
Gift cards can be created as a new product in your Shopify store where you can customize their name, image, sales channels, and the denominations that customers can purchase. They’re delivered digitally by email and can be redeemed online or in-person at any time. You can read our help docs for a step-by-step guide on creating your first gift card.
Once you've set up your gift cards, you can reach out to your existing customers to let them know how they can continue to support your business, even while social distancing has them stuck at home.
- Email your customer list to notify them of changes to your operations and services, and how they can support your business through this time, even if they can’t visit you in-store or don’t need your products or services right away.
- Stay active on your existing social media accounts to connect with customers; it's more important than ever that they hear from you. As you check in on how they’re doing, let them know how you’re doing too and how buying a gift card towards a future purchase is one of the best ways they can support you.
- Reach out to your local community through online channels, such as groups and forums, or to local Facebook pages and influencers. Small businesses are a staple of our communities and people, especially loyal customers, want to rally around their favorite shops. Many communities are even organizing spreadsheets and directories so customers can quickly find and support small businesses in their area.
Shopify is rapidly exploring more ways we can help small businesses through the COVID-19 crisis. Our hope is that making gift cards accessible to all merchants is one immediate step we can take to help local businesses address their cash flow concerns. You can visit our COVID-19 resources center to find additional tools and support as they become available.