Both Shopify and Yelp announced moves to integrate offline and online operations this week.
That’s especially important right now, as virtual commerce often trumps in-person transactions during government-mandated lockdowns.
Let’s start by taking a look at what Shopify is offering. The company rolled out an updated point-of-sale (POS) system that brings orders and payments into a “unified customer experience.”
The new tool also helps break the barrier between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar marketing.
How does it do that? By empowering business owners to serve online, in-house, or curbside customers.
The tool also supports mobile checkout for onsite or curbside delivery.
Additionally, the POS includes an inventory management component. Business owners will use it to determine if they need to shift inventory from one location to another based on demand.
The software also comes equipped with a smart grid. It’s a feature that speeds up the checkout process by adapting to user actions in the shopping cart.
Yelp’s new tool also supports integrations with other apps. Users can book appointments, schedule time for in-store visits, or control foot traffic.
According to Shopify, merchants who connected their online and in-store sales with the new POS saw revenue increases of 30% year-over-year.
The company also said that it’s seen a “10-fold increase in retail stores on Shopify adapting to social-distance selling by offering local delivery or buy-online-pickup-in-store.”
That was during a two-week period just last month.
“Retailers need help right now,” says Ian Black, Director of Retail at Shopify. “Shopify is doing everything we can to help retailers adapt to current challenges and come back stronger. We are releasing our new Shopify POS to give retailers — especially small, local businesses — every possible advantage. Retailers deserve a point-of-sale that helps them shift their sales from in-store to online, easily offer curbside pick-up and local delivery, and be ready for growth when in-store customers start to return. No other point-of-sale is as powerful for the challenges retailers face today,”
Next, let’s take a look at Yelp’s new features.
For starters, the app includes Virtual Service Offerings. They’re announcements that appear on the pages of businesses that offer virtual classes, training, consultations, shows, or tours.
In other words, Yelp is making it easier for users to find companies that continue operations while still practicing social distancing.
Further, Yelp now offers enhanced support to restaurants that are moving towards a takeout-or-delivery business model. The company updated the search and home experiences components to feature personalized food service options.
Along those lines, other businesses will soon have the opportunity to indicate that they’re offering curbside pickup. That’s because “curbside pickup” will soon become a searchable option in the app.
Yelp also bragged about the creative ways that some businesses use its app during the pandemic. Here’s one example:
[N]ational restaurant chain Chili’s® Grill & Bar has been using Yelp Waitlist to help manage curbside takeout orders to ensure both guests and team members are safely social distancing and adhering to shelter-in-place guidelines. Chili’s used Yelp Waitlist to keep track of guests picking up their curbside orders from their vehicle, even adding “table numbers” on parking spots, to create a seamless curbside experience. As shelter-in-place ordinances ease, they’re continuing to use Yelp Waitlist to simultaneously manage tables inside, as well as curbside orders in their parking lot, allowing guests to safely wait in their cars for their table to be ready.
Finally, Yelp now offers banner alerts. They make it easy for owners to communicate with customers about changes during the various phases of reopening.
Since that new feature rolled out, almost a quarter of a million companies used banner alerts to create customized updates.
Wrapping It Up
It’s great to see Shopify and Yelp make life a little easier for struggling entrepreneurs at the outset of a recession.
Earlier this year, the world changed for all of us. But Information Age brands are adapting to those challenges and doing what they can to help SMBs stay in business.