News — #pandemic

How to Give Your Customers Virtual Estimates

How to Give Your Customers Virtual Estimates

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for many businesses to operate, especially with social distancing guidelines in effect throughout the world. Of all the businesses affected, service businesses have had to do some of the most adapting during these difficult times.

Much like a majority of the other roadblocks businesses encounter, the digital world comes to save us yet again. By offering virtual meetings, giving virtual estimates, and even providing customer care virtually, any business can continue being helpful to their clients or customers during this pandemic.

If you’ve been wondering how your business can successfully make this transition as smooth as possible, don’t worry. We’re going to detail what you need to do to better help your customers during this difficult time.

1. Assessment

The first thing you need to do is assess what you’re capable of doing virtually. Not everything is going to be possible, but certain services and procedures can. For example, contractors can give estimates for a repair job virtually, but won’t be able to complete the repair without physically being there.

Try writing every single service you provide on a piece of paper. Grab a separate piece of paper and separate it into two columns -- one labeled ‘virtual’ and one labeled ‘contact.’ If a service can be done virtually, put it in the corresponding column. Do the same with non-virtual services.

Once you find the services that can be done virtually, you’ll be well on your way to making your customers feel much more comfortable about doing business with you -- especially those that are at an increased risk of getting sick.

That was just the first step, though. There’s more to do if you want to deploy those virtual services properly, but that’s where the decision comes in.

2. Decision

The second step in this process is the decision. It involves deciding between the various different options available when launching your virtual services. With the way technology is always advancing, it might seem the opportunities are endless.

Most business owners immediately think of utilizing phone calls and emails, which are certainly helpful in some situations. At the same time, customers already have access to those. If they trusted it, they’d already be using it.

That’s where video calls truly come in handy. Many of them don’t require much to get set up, whether you’re a customer or business owner -- such as Zoom, Skype, Facebook Messenger, and Google Hangouts.

The decision should be based on what your customers want. Think about the platforms your customers are most likely to use and already have downloaded.

3. Inform

Now that you’ve had a chance to decide which platform and method of virtual estimates is best for your company, it’s time to let your customers and clients in on your recent decision. Unless they know about it, they won’t know to utilize it.

There are many ways to do this. While none are more powerful than social media, you should also consider posting it on your service page, as well as in a blog post and email newsletter. Again, you’ll know which way is best when reaching out to your customers, so keep them in mind when preparing this. 

4. Follow-Up

Once you start informing customers about your recent decision, you’ll start to receive virtual appointments. Make sure you pencil those into your schedule just like any home visit you would normally do, the only difference being you don’t have to travel anywhere.

It’s also good practice to follow up with the customer after the call to give them a written estimate, which acts as a summary of what you discussed on the virtual appointment. It’s best to do this via email, that way you don’t have to bother them with another call.

Getting Virtual Estimates to Work for You

Offering virtual estimates does a lot for the business you’ve worked so hard to build and maintain throughout the years, but it’s also a great way for newer companies to gain trust and clout within their industry.

When customers learn you have virtual estimates -- especially when those estimates are free -- it does two major things for your company. First, it minimizes the amount of phone calls and emails you get. Second, it gives you a chance to set yourself apart from others.

It also limits the amount of house calls you need to make, reduces your risk of getting sick, and allows you to follow local or state guidelines.

If you’ve been struggling to get virtual estimates to work for your business, Consultants In-A-Box can help. We take great pride in helping companies find the most effective ways of keeping their business running strong through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you improve the way your business operates during these difficult times.

Grow Your Sales By Selling Gift Cards Online

Grow Your Sales By Selling Gift Cards Online

In 2020, who would’ve imagined that selling gift cards online would be one of the hottest trends for both brick-and-mortar shops and ecommerce sites? Believe it or not, it’s an excellent way to increase revenue and keep customers engaged with your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, most businesses either don’t know how to sell gift cards online or simply haven’t thought of the idea yet. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone! Many businesses just like yours have struggled to make it happen, but Shopify is making it extremely easy to get started.

Below, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about using Shopify to sell gift cards online. We’ll discuss how it works, why you should do it, how to get started, and how to enhance the experience for both your company and its customers.

How Does Selling Gift Cards Online Work?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic was an issue, many brick-and-mortar businesses weren’t selling online and had no intention of it. With the COVID-19 pandemic only worsening throughout 2020, many businesses are being forced to either start selling online or close up shop.

No one wants to see our beloved local and small businesses shut down, which is why Shopify has made it so simple to sell gift cards online. This is how it works:

  • You create a simple online store with Shopify’s easy build features
  • You share your online store with customers so they can add gift cards to their cart
  • Customers receive the gift card via email
  • You track the purchased gift cards and wait for them to be redeemed in the future
  • The gift cards never expire, but you receive the funds immediately

Since many customers might find it difficult to shop your brick-and-mortar store right now, you can easily give them the option of shopping online now to shop in-store later. It’s easy for both you and the customer, which adds to the excitement.

Benefits When You Sell Gift Cards Online

As you might imagine, you open the door to a wide range of possibilities when you sell gift cards online. With so much to gain, you’ll be wondering why you haven’t considered this months ago.

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not your business can benefit from this venture, we completely understand. To help you see the amazing opportunity in front of you, here are some of the ways it can help your business:

  • Brand Awareness. Especially during today’s unique times, interacting with your customers is extremely important whether you’re open or closed.
  • Increased Sales. Anytime you introduce a revenue stream you weren’t entertaining before, you open the door for more sales each month.
  • Useful Data. When observing your customer’s online buying behaviors, you gain useful insight into what they want and how they want it.
  • Cash Flow. Customers might not be purchasing products right this moment, but you’re still receiving money now for their business later.

Those are just some of the amazing benefits you receive when adding gift cards to your online store. It’s super easy to do, doesn’t require anything to get started, and gives immediate benefits to both you and the customer!

Getting Started With Shopify Today

If you’re ready to give your shoppers the option to buy online gift cards, you’re making a smart choice. We’ve been talking a lot about how easy it is to get started, but what better way to prove it to you than by explaining it.

You can get started in just five easy steps -- that’s right, just five! Let’s take a look at what’s needed for each step of the process.

1.   Start a Free Trial on Shopify

First thing’s first, you need to get started with a Shopify account. It costs $29/month, but they’re giving businesses a free two-week trial before being charged anything. This gives you enough time to establish yourself before having any costs.

When you set up your account, you’ll need to select your domain name. It’s where shoppers will go when looking for your online store. By default, it will look like ‘’ unless you purchase a domain, but it’s not necessary. (‘yoursite’ would be replaced with the site name you choose).

It’s important to note that you will need to enter credit card details and select a plan in order to get started, but you won’t be billed until after the free trial. You’ll also receive an email before the trial ends as a reminder.

2.   Create an Online Gift Card

Now that you officially have a Shopify account, you’ve opened the door for customers to find you online. The next step is creating the digital gift card that shoppers will buy, which you can do by clicking Products > Gift Cards.

Making the online gift card your own is easy, but you’ll need to edit five main things before it’s completed -- the title, description, media, denominations, and availability. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Title - you can either choose to be detailed in your description or minimalistic, but it’s always a good idea to include your company name and something COVID-19 related
  • Description - this is your opportunity to really connect with your customers. Let them know you feel their pain and give them reasons why they should buy online gift cards from you.
  • Media - creating a custom image for your online gift card is essential in today’s digital world. Customers want something that’s appealing and stylish.
  • Denominations - when customers go to purchase an online gift card, they’ll have several different options in terms of amounts. Keep it simple because they can always purchase multiple.
  • Availability - this feature allows you to choose where you want to make this online gift card available. For now, we’ll be selecting ‘Online Store’

Once you have the gift card created, you’re one step closer to launching your store and seeing the revenue pile in. As of right now, it’s always good practice to double check your work and make sure you’re happy with the design of your gift card.

3.   Personalize & Brand Your Online Store

Now that you have a gift card to sell, it’s time to personalize your online store so it matches the rest of your brand. This is a vital part of the process because your customers need to recognize the online store as yours.

To do this, select Sales Channels > Online Store > Themes and select the theme you’d like to use. There are a wide range to choose from, so take your time and select one that fits your business the most.

Clicking Customize allows you to edit the theme to your liking.

Inside the edit screen, you’ll see a list of sections on the left side and then a visual of what your site looks like in the middle. You can switch between different pages on the top, as well as different screen sizes (mobile and tablet also offered).

As you go through and edit your online store, here are some things to keep in mind: 

  • You can remove sections on the left to start with a clean slate or you can hide them to add back later.
  • It’s best to start with an image overlay with text as an intro to your online store. Upload an image that represents your company well.
  • Add a Featured Product section to easily and clearly display your gift card to shoppers. You can allow them to purchase multiple by turning on the Quantity Selector.
  • Add your logo to the Header area of the store, as well as other pages if you want to create an About Us.
  • Add social media links and buttons to the site wherever possible, as well as a place for them to contact you via email or phone.
  • Go to Settings > Payment Providers to allow Shopify to automatically capture payment for orders.
  • You can play around with adding different sections, but this is all you’ll need for an easy-to-build online store.

With your store in-tact, you can officially say you own an online store to supplement your brick-and-mortar business. This is the start of something new and can be the venture that saves your business during these difficult times.

4.   Share the Store With Customers

Now you’re ready to start bringing customers to your online store. In order to give them access, you first need to take away the password protection on the site. Go to Online Store > Preferences and turn off the Enable Password option.

Once you complete that step, your site will be visible to anyone that enters the URL to your online store. Start marketing it all over social media, notify your customers via email, and spread the news through word of mouth. Make sure everyone knows where to find your online store.

5.   Manage Your Sales

One of the amazing features on Shopify is the ability to easily track orders and gift cards that have already been purchased. This makes it easy to verify when someone wants to use a gift card by checking the date it was purchased, as well as manage how much the customer has remaining.

Enhancing Your Gift Card Experience

There’s a lot to gain when you start selling online gift cards, but this is only the start of this journey for you. There are a wide range of things you can do to enhance the experience for both you and the customer as you start to gain traction with your online store.

Here are some ideas to keep your creative juices flowing on how to continue expanding: 

  • Use Canva’s gift card maker to create a personalized image for your gift cards. The more unique and engaging this is for the customer, the better it is for your business.
  • Reward loyal customers by discounting gift cards with a higher price tag on them. It incentivizes them to buy the big gift cards, putting more money in your pocket now.
  • If you want to easily market your gift cards on someone else’s site or make them available on your existing site, use the Buy Button channel when selecting the availability of the gift card.
  • Don’t hesitate to start bringing your other products and services to your online Shopify store. There’s so much to do, including an About Us page, Staff page, advertising opportunities, customize emails, and more.

Getting started with selling gift cards online is easy and the opportunities are endless. If you need help working your way through this process without difficulty, contact Consultants In-A-Box to connect with one of our trusted professionals immediately.

We look forward to helping your business offer customers an online store and online gift cards!