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Shops.bm builds online presence for small businesses

Simple checkout experience: Edgar Dill, left, and nephew Michael Dill, part of the team behind Shops.bm (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Setting up an online business can be a costly and confusing undertaking for a fledgeling micro enterprise.

Entrepreneur Edgar Dill feels their pain. He set up his own small business, Spectro Pay, an online payment solution for taxis, in 2013.

“The process can be intimidating,” he said. “It is certainly time consuming.”

He said dealing with the bank can take several weeks, and the paperwork is nothing to laugh at.

“A lot of merchants just throw their hands up in the air and say, it’s too much work,” he said.

To tackle the problem he and a team of developers, consisting of his brother Christopher Dill, and several nephews, launched Shops.bm, a virtual mall.

“Christopher has a compliance and banking background and I have an engineering background, so we compliment each other,” he said.

The website provides quick and easy tools to set up a storefront that eliminates the need for web hosting and domain names. Shops.bm also liaises with local banks and handles the online payment side of things.

Shoppers visit the website the way they would a mall. The website offers a list of the stores hosted there.

Visitors simply click on the name and browse the company’s products. If they want to buy something, it is one click away.

Mikal Minors of branding and digital marketing agency, Better Digital, designed the website’s aesthetic.

He then became one of Shops.bm’s first clients when he used it to launch his e-book Into the Mind of AI – Conversations with Artificial Intelligence, a month ago.

He looked at publishing through the usual online book sales platforms, but found they wanted to charge 40 per cent tax on every book downloaded.

Shops.bm charges its vendors a $250 annual membership fee, and then takes a 5.5 per cent commission.

Mr Minors has already sold a few books, even though he has yet to start marketing his work.

“The checkout experience is extremely simple,” he said. “When someone bought my book through Shops.bm, the money went to my account within two days.”

He thought not having to build a website, or pay a hosting fee, saved him at least $4,000 a year.

The concept for Shops.bm came out of Mr Dill’s experience with Spectro Pay. Running that, he found that there were a lot of others, outside of the taxi industry, that needed a similar solution.

“We found that small and micro businesses have challenges accepting regular card payments,” Mr Dill said. “Many small businesses don’t take credit cards for various reasons.”

He noticed that when the pandemic erupted in March 2020, small businesses that did not take credit cards could not operate online.

“That made us ask what can we do in this space,” Mr Dill said.

He thought a virtual mall would help more small businesses to establish an online presence.

His nephew, Michael Dill, who has an information technology background, helped him to create the engine that drives Shops.bm.

“The challenge for me was just learning the technology and how it works and what certain limitations we had and how to get around that,” Michael Dill said. “There was a payment issue, and we figured it out. Then we had some design issues that Mikal Minors helped us to sort out.”

Shops.bm has been operational for about a month, but is planning an official launch party in the coming weeks.

“It has a presence out there,” Edgar Dill said. “So far, two people have signed up, for something that has not been officially released. That is was quite pleasing.”

Shops.bm is working with a local bank and has met all of their requirements on fraud protection.

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Published May 23, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated May 23, 2023 at 8:07 am)

Shops.bm builds online presence for small businesses

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