Shop ND (shopnd.com) is an online marketplace that spotlights the North Dakota business community with no cost of enrollment to the retailer. The program was launched with the mission of connecting local small business owners to shoppers across the state. The platform aims to encourage and promote efficient online shopping from local business owners across North Dakota. I sat down with Greg Syrup, CARES (Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security) Program Director, to discuss how he and his direct reports pushed life into Shop ND, its biggest challenges to date, the future of the program and more.
As the COVID-19 pandemic worsened and heavily impacted the business community, the CARES Act was launched. The CARES Act is a $2.2 trillion stimulus package that was launched by the US government in March of 2020. When North Dakota received roughly $1 million to spend over the following two to three years, a variety of programs were created with those funds to support local businesses.
Of those programs, the Shop ND program was one of the first to officially launch and find success across the state. The money to build and back the program, market for the program and the force behind the launch of the Shop ND campaign were all there. However, creating a website proved to be a bit more difficult than Syrup first imagined. To provide the most efficient online shopping experience for both retailers and customers, they reached across a few state lines for an extra hand.
“We partnered with Member Marketplace, an organization based out of Iowa that creates websites for several different communities. In the past, they’ve created websites similar to Shop ND in different states including Ohio, Wyoming, urban Nevada, rural Nevada and so on,” Syrup said.
The primary goal behind Shop ND is to provide access to small businesses’ products through an online marketplace, no matter the struggles that communities face, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of small business owners felt like they were sitting in the middle of a lake without any way to move during the pandemic. We saw this and wanted to create a very easy-to-use, turnkey, complementary service for businesses to be able to continue making sales in their community,” Syrup said.
Did You Know?
14 businesses (and counting) in the Bismarck and Mandan area alone are enrolled in the Shop ND program!
“This program really helps out business owners if they faced certain restrictions at the height of the pandemic, as well as those that don’t have a brick-and-mortar location. Plus, many of these people can now showcase and ship their product(s) much further than before, as people from across the state are discovering products that they wouldn’t have.”
Furthermore, the CARES group works with several programs that are dedicated to the care of the client, including the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG). Not only are they looking to advertise and support local businesses’ products, but they can also refer you to the proper organizations to assist you with other questions or concerns.
As with any online marketplace, there are certain restrictions in place regarding the sale of independent products. “We comply with certain regulations on what can and cannot be sold online that sellers should be aware of. There are regulated industries such as alcohol and tobacco. There are cottage food laws in North Dakota that place restrictions on homemade food products sold in large amounts. But if they have any questions about their product, however, we can answer them in a heartbeat,” Syrup said.
With “thousands of dollars in sales being made through the platform so far,” according to Syrup, the ever-growing Shop ND program is described by Syrup as a “very broad, open-ended” way to connect retailer and customer, even in the toughest of times. Despite the challenges that the business community may face over the coming years, the future looks hopeful as Shop ND and those behind the program aim to assist North Dakota business owners in any way possible.
Today, there are over 520 businesses enrolled in the cost-free Shop ND program across North Dakota, with that number expected to increase as the program finds more recognition.
Shop ND’s Platform Benefits for Business
An online marketplace that is hyper-focused on selling the products & services of local businesses, helping customers easily shop local online.
- Online sales exposure to locally-minded consumers
- Allow customers to choose local pickup, delivery, or shipping
- Benefit from the ‘marketplace effect’ with shared promotion from multiple local businesses & partners
- Sync Shopify web stores to allow products to import and sync inventory. (other integrations coming soon)
- Online training and resources to help you manage and market your shop.
- Diversity of sales channels to increase overall sales
- Selling support from a live team assisting with your shop, products, and orders
- Sell products, services, events and virtual or customizable products through the site
- Sell online without listing or commission fees. (includes up to 50 items listed in your shop)
*No fees paid for listing products or selling products. Merchant processing fees apply (2.9% + $30 per order)
Frequently Asked Questions
Does it cost to participate?
- There is no cost for sellers to join Shop North Dakota!
- Shop North Dakota is an initiative of the North Dakota SBDC enabling small businesses throughout North Dakota to sell on the platform.
Can you tell me more about listing products?
- Sellers can list products individually or connect their existing Shopify store to sync their products and inventory into the platform.
- You must list a minimum of one product and up to 50 products for free! Email [email protected] if you’re interested in listing more than 50 products.
How long will it take to get set up on the site?
- It only takes a few minutes to register your business. Once your account is approved, you can have all of your shop settings and your first few products added in under an hour.
- If you already have products listed online elsewhere, we may even be able to assist you with a product import to get your shop started.
I’ve never sold online before. Can someone help me?
- Yes. There are ongoing trainings, how-to videos and a knowledge base with resources to guide you, but there’s also a live team ready to assist you with whatever questions you have. Reach out to us at any time and we’ll be happy to work with you.
I already have a website, why should I sell on this platform?
- This platform is catered to an audience that is interested in buying local, and they’re specifically coming to the website to browse and buy from North Dakota businesses.
- Buying on a marketplace website is incredibly convenient for customers. They can visit one website and buy multiple products from several different vendors with one checkout.
- Selling in multiple channels (i.e. your website, in-store, a marketplace website, etc.) increases your chances for more overall sales.
- Marketplace visitors can buy your products without knowing of your business first, something that is often harder to convert on individual websites.
How do I get notified of orders?
- You will get an email notification to the registered email address on your account.
- You may also sign up for text alerts in your account.
How do I handle shipping?
- Sellers handle all fulfillment and shipping requirements and can charge shipping to customers.
- Sellers can set free shipping for all products or just for specific products.
- Sellers can set their own shipping rates on their overall store or on a per-product basis.
- Sellers enter shipping, carrier and tracking information that is then communicated to the customer.
How and when do I get paid for orders?
- Stripe is the preferred payment processor. Orders are paid out to your bank from Stripe typically within two business days. Payment processing through Stripe is 2.9% + $.30 per order.
- Alternatively, businesses could choose PayPal payments if they prefer. There will be an additional $.25 processing fee for PayPal (2.9% + $.55 total), and payments will be dispersed once the order has been shipped to the customer.
How often do I have to update my shop?
- Products should be updated as needed, or at least every few weeks. Shops should be updated to make inventory changes, add a new product or two and delete old products.
Get in touch with Shop ND
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (701) 777-3700