Countless brick-and-mortar businesses have been forced to close in response to COVID-19. Our hearts go out to the business owners and employees who have been affected. We recognize your hardship and want to support you through this challenging time.
If you've had to close up shop, there are ways you can sell your products and stay in touch with customers through an online store. This guide will share, step by step, how to start selling online and continue delivering products safely to your local customers.
Note: This guide is for businesses that are brand new to Shopify.
Create your online store with Shopify. Start a 14-day free trial—no credit card required.
How it works
Local delivery allows customers to buy your products online and have you deliver them straight to their doorstep. An email lets them know you’re on your way, so you can drop their package at the door without any face-to-face contact. It’s safe, fast, and convenient.
Here are the steps:
- Your customer places an order, selects “Local delivery” at checkout, and pays online through your new online store.
- You receive the order via email and start preparing it.
- You use the order’s local delivery page to view the customer’s address and plan your route.
- Head out and tell your customer you’re on your way.
- Safely drop the package at the customer’s door.
- That’s it—you're done!
Selling online with local delivery
1. Prepare content
Before you can start selling products online, it's helpful to have the following items ready:
- Photos of your retail location.
- Logos or brand assets for your business. If you need a logo made quickly, try Hatchful.
- Short product descriptions that describe your products and why people should buy them. If you need help writing descriptions, read our guide.
- Product photos to showcase your catalog. You can take quality photos with most modern phones.
2. Start your online store
The first step is to head over to Shopify’s local delivery page and start your free trial. Your store name will become your domain, or the URL that your customers will go to when they want to order from your store.
In this guide, the URL we’re using is katiescafelocaldelivery.myshopify.com for our business, Katie’s Cafe. You can buy a custom domain later, but it’s not necessary to launch your store.
3. Add products
The next thing you’ll want to do is add your products to your store. There are a few ways to add products, but here’s what we recommend:
- From your Shopify admin, head to Products > All products. From this page, click the button Add product. Enter a title for your product, along with a product description and photo.
- Add your price. You won’t need to factor in delivery costs as a delivery price can be set separately.
- If you only have a limited number of this product to sell, select Track quantity in the Inventory section.
- Make sure to edit variants if your item has more than one option (e.g., different sizes, colors, etc.)
- If you have more than one location, make sure that your products are stocked at the location that will offer local delivery.
💡 Tip: Keep your online store simple by adding only your best-selling products, or “essentials,” and keep current demand in mind. Fewer products will reduce your setup time and get your business back up and running faster.
4. Customize your theme
Your online store uses a default theme, Debut, to display content. We kept the Debut theme for this guide.
After you choose a theme, you can customize it to fit your brand.
- Go to Themes then click the Customize button to edit the homepage of your online store.
- Edit the theme's default sections using the theme editor. Select Image with text overlay and Text column with images.
- Click the remaining sections and click the Remove section button. Alternatively, you can simply hide them by clicking the eye icon.
- Select Image with text overlay. This section on your website introduces your store to your customers. Add a photo of your business and customize the heading and text. You can see how our store looks below.
- Include a button with a call to action. Select All products as the button link so customers can start shopping immediately.
Now, head back to your theme editor. Configure Text columns with images to include more details. For our store, we’re using this section to explain to customers how buying online with local delivery works.
After that, return once again to your theme editor. Now select Header to edit the top of your website. This is a great place to add your logo. You can see what our logo looks like in the example below.
5. Add products to your online store
In the theme editor, select Featured collection.
Edit the title then click Select collection. Choose Home page to add all your products to the home page. To finish, hit Select.
6. Set up local delivery
Now that your shop is up and running, it’s time to set up your local delivery. Local delivery within Shopify allows you to deliver local orders directly to your customers’ doorsteps. Eligible customers will see “Local delivery” at checkout, and you’ll be able to manage all local delivery orders from one place.
To set up local delivery, make your way to Settings and click Shipping and delivery. Scroll down until you see Local delivery. Your location will be listed here with a gray badge that says “Doesn’t offer delivery.”
To enable local delivery for a location, click Manage. This will bring you to the Local delivery page for that location.
Select the checkbox that says “This location offers local delivery.” You will then be shown options to set up your local delivery.
First, you will need to define a Delivery area. This determines how far you will travel to deliver orders. Once configured, customers that live within your specified area will be able to select “local delivery” when they check out.
If you choose to set up your delivery area using a radius, you can choose a radius in miles or kilometers. The defaults are set to 6 miles or 10 kilometers. This can be adjusted to suit your desired area.
If you choose to set up your delivery area using postal/ZIP codes, enter the codes in the field box, separated by a comma. Enter postal codes separated by a comma. Use an asterisk (*) to include all postal codes that begin with certain characters (example: A1A* = A1A 1A1 - A1A 9Z9).
Now that you’ve set your delivery area, it’s time to configure how local delivery will appear at checkout for your customers. This is where you can set the delivery price, the minimum order price, and additional information that will appear at checkout and in the “order confirmation” notification sent to your customers. To complete this step, you’re going to stay on the same page where you set your delivery area.
The first step is to determine your delivery price. You can choose to make this free or to charge a fee. Keep in mind that local customers will expect local delivery to be more affordable than other shipping methods. If you only want to offer local delivery on orders over a certain amount, you can add this condition in the Minimum order price box.
Now it’s time to add additional information that will appear at checkout. This information will be useful to communicate how you deliver. If you have a certain delivery schedule or a preferred place to leave packages, you can enter that information here. Rate preview will show you how local delivery will appear to your customers at checkout.
Once everything is set up, customers will be able to select local delivery at checkout and add any special delivery instructions.
Learn more: Our restaurant online ordering system not only offers local delivery to your customers, but curbside pickup, too. (Oh, and tipping options!)
7. Launch your store
You can do everything above in Shopify before you pick your plan. Once you're ready to go live, it's time to choose the right plan for you. The Basic Shopify plan is likely all you need to start selling online with local delivery.
Once you select a plan, you’ll be prompted for payment information, but you won’t be charged until your 14-day trial is up.
Go back to your online store and Disable password. Once you hit Save, your online store will be live!
8. Accept payments
All Shopify-supported payment methods rely on third-party providers to process your transactions. These providers might charge extra fees, as well as enforce rules about what products you can sell using their service. When you set up a payment method, check with the company providing the service to make sure you understand their rules and fees.
Follow these instructions to make sure you’re set up to get paid.
9. Pack orders and prepare for delivery
From this section onward, we’ll show you how to prepare and deliver orders.
When you get an order, you’ll receive an email from Shopify to the email address you signed up with. You can also log back into Shopify at shopify.com to check your orders at any time. Orders will show up in the Orders list in your Shopify admin. To see local orders, select the Local delivery view at the top of the list.
Open the order to see what needs to be prepared. On this page, you will also be able to see any special delivery instructions that your customer requested. If you want to deliver that particular order right away, you can do so and then click Mark as delivered. This will send a “delivered” notification to your customer.
If you prefer to prepare all local orders at once for a delivery route, click Prepare delivery.
You will then be brought to the Prepare delivery page. You can use this page to help you pack the order. Once the order is packed and ready, click Mark as ready for delivery.
This will change the order status to Ready for delivery. You can repeat this process for all local orders that you want to deliver in the same route.
Once you’ve marked your orders as Ready for delivery, it’s time to deliver them to your local customers. You can do this using the Shopify Local Delivery App.
The app allows you to create and share optimized delivery routes. Once you share a route with your delivery staff, they can open the route from their phones using the mobile app (iOS and Android). From the app, they can open directions in their favorite map app, contact customers, and update delivery statuses.
From the Shopify Local Delivery app, click on Create delivery list, select the location you will be delivering orders from,and begin adding orders using the Add button.The map on the right will show all of your local delivery orders. All orders that are part of your current delivery list will be highlighted, while orders that haven’t been included will be subdued.
The estimated distance and estimated time to complete will also update with each order added to your list. Routes for up to 100 stops (including starting and ending locations) can be optimized to help you save time. If you want to optimize your delivery route, click Optimize route. Looking at your starting location and the orders in your route, the app will re-arrange your delivery stops and provide an optimized route. If you want to use the optimized route, tap Confirm. To use your current route, tap Cancel.
Once your delivery list is ready, can either click Go to driver view or Share delivery route. Sharing your route will generate a link that can be sent to any of your staff. When they open the link, they will see a summary screen with the details of the delivery list. If they have the mobile app, the route will open on their phone. Using the mobile app makes it easier for drivers to deliver orders while on the go.
Upon opening the shared link, your driver will be shown a login screen. Once they enter their information, they will see a list of available delivery routes. When they’re ready to begin, they will tap Start route. Starting a route will automatically send the “out for delivery” notification to customers.
Once the route has been started, the first stop will appear. Drivers will be able to see the customer’s address, delivery instructions, and items in the order.
To open directions, your driver can tap the navigate button. This will open their favorite map app on this phone. Your driver can also contact the customers by phone or by text message at the tap of a button. Once the order has been successfully delivered, your driver will tap Mark as delivered. This will automatically send the “delivery confirmation”notification to the customer. Once delivered, your driver can then tap Next delivery to continue with the route.
If an order cannot be delivered, your driver will tap Mark as attempted. This will automatically send a delivery attempt notification to the customer. Your driver can then continue on to their next stop.
Your driver will repeat this process until all the deliveries in this list have been completed. Once the list is done, they will be brought to an overview screen.
As stops are completed, order statuses will be updated on the orders index of your Shopify admin. This will allow you to track deliveries and plan new delivery routes for any missed deliveries.
Ways to enhance your online store
With your Shopify store now live and available to customers, there are a few other steps you can consider to improve their shopping experience.
- Sell gift cards, which can help free up cash flow. Gift cards are now available on all Shopify plans.
- Add a custom domain so your store has a distinct URL, such as katiescafe.com. Check available domain names and get ideas with our domain name generator.
- Advertise and market your store online to reach new and existing customers. Start with a few ideas shared in this guide.
- Explore our themes and app store to further customize your online store.
- Use our mobile app to get notifications sent directly to your phone.
- Add your staff members
- Determine how you'll take returns or issue refunds.
We're here for you. If you'd like additional help, please contact our support team. We're available 24/7 to offer guidance—anything from moving your retail business online to advice on navigating your current business challenges.
Thank you to Steve Howe for his contributions to this post.