Setting up eCommerce with Shopify POS and PDFs

With COVID-19 disrupting the status-quo for retail, many retailer are left without customers. If you’ve haven’t thought digital yet, this might be a good time to start. As they say, “The best time to start was 5 years go… the next best time is today.”

What I’m about to propose to you requires an understanding of the agile mindset — you need to understand that done is better than perfect. This means, while some of the things proposed are scrappy and make-do, they’re there to create experience for your team. This experience will help them find an understand of what works & doesn’t work, what is needed & not needed.


The plan is to get you started on your digital journey by introducing a new channel for transactions. You’re launching ecommerce, but without a website. The strategy is to distribute your catalog through other digital channels (like social media — Facebook/Instagram/Forums/Twitter and Email/SMS) to generate & capture demand for your products.

With this new channel of revenue, we’re decoupling the (discovery-evaluation) step and the purchasing step. With a catalog shared on your site‌ — linked and discovered over social/email — customers can approach any of these channels (social/website/google forms) to place orders for the items of their choice. These then are taken up by your team to create orders in the Shopify POS — advantage being that it provides communication and confirmation for the customer. Following this, the orders can be processed and delivered to the customers address.‌‌ Cash/Card can be collected at the customers address.

Why Shopify POS?

Shopify POS is a simple to use POS that integrates with your product feed. The core advantages are:

  1. Easy to use
  2. Provides customer communication
  3. Integrates with your store inventory

The only disadvantage is that it requires an Android/iOS device.

User journey

A simplistic journey is shown below:

Key considerations

PDF‌ Catalog

While building the catalog, focus on the following key considerations:

  1. Make it easy for the customer to identify the product
    So instead of “Floral top with laces” add a easy to identify code like W100. An alphabet with 3 digit gives you over 23 thousand SKUs (24*999 combinations)
  2. Limit to only 40–50 of your best products
    Unless your strategy is to get the old stock out (by pricing it at or below margin) don’t list the entire catalog. If you are going for the volume, categorize your products in the following way:
    a. By the product category (natural categorization)
    b. Price Categorization (price range categorization)
    c. Brand Categorization (if brands are recognizable)
  3. Use linked PDFs
    1. Create category linking to a page
    2. Create add to basket links (which open a pre-filled Google Form) Link:
  4. Add FAQs at the bottom.

Catalog in Shopify

Create a simple CSV‌ with the following headers:

  1. Handle
    This is the identity code for your products (E.G. W100)
  2. Product name
    The name of the product. Remember this is the product name that goes to the customer in their email, so it is always better to have it the same as in the PDF‌ Catalog.
  3. Variant Price
    Price of the product

Customer Communication

One of the advantages of using Shopify is that it gives you the power of automated communication with the customer without having to worry about the payments and other issues. Key considerations:

  1. Setup the order confirmation email
  2. Setup the order dispatched email

Ensure you include the following:

  1. Your brand name
  2. Customer name
  3. Ordered items with total price to be paid
  4. Indicate estimated delivery days
  5. Specify the precautions you’re taking during the Coronavirus time
  6. Links to the social media
  7. Customer support number

Google Form

For the Google Form, remember the following things:

  1. Show clear branding
    Customer is entering their personal details here so you need to show that the platform is legit
  2. Capture the following information:
    A. Customer Name
    B. Email
    C. Phone number
    D. Address for delivery (copy the required fields from your local Amazon or other popular ecommerce site)
    E.‌ Preference for Cash or Card on delivery‌

For the best customer experience, I’d recommend you host a page that caches the inputs from the customer and then submits the final selection from the customer to the Google form. Otherwise you’ll end up with multiple requests from the same customer for the same ‘order’.

There are more aspects of this — Operations, Marketing, Shopify and Finance.
However, for each of them, there is a distinct departmental flavor — specific to your business, region and culture. We’ll cover this in the next article.

Thank you for reading. If you’re planning to take this further

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