The Ottawa headquarters of Canadian e-commerce company Shopify are pictured on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. Shopify Inc. is offering merchants interest-free, cash advances to help businesses using its e-commerce products cope with the impacts of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

E-commerce giants offer cash advances, waive fees and more amid COVID-19

The moves come as companies across Canada are struggling to stay afloat

Canadian businesses struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic are getting some relief from the e-commerce platforms they use to sell their goods and services.

E-commerce companies including Shopify Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and EBay Canada are trying to help businesses grappling with the impacts of COVID-19 by offering cash advances, waiving fees and pausing loan repayments.

The moves come as companies across Canada are struggling to stay afloat amid physical distancing measures that have shuttered brick-and-mortar stores and had to resort to layoffs and pay reductions to cover mounting bills.

According to surveys from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, 56 per cent of small businesses have no more capacity to take on debt during this emergency, 30 per cent do not have cash flow to pay bills accrued in April and 39 per cent are worried about permanent closure.

With numbers like those in mind, Shopify said Monday that it is offering its merchants interest-free, cash advances ranging from $200 to $500,000 per eligible company.

READ MORE: ‘I just want to survive:’ Greenhouses struggling with economic reality of COVID-19

The Ottawa-based technology company said the advances will have to be repaid through future sales, but are meant to provide fast relief to cash-strapped businesses across the country, who realize how daunting it can be to take on debt.

“This funding will fill in the gaps that banks generally can’t satisfy right now and provide businesses with the cash flow they need, when they need it most now, not months from now,” said Kaz Nejatian, Shopify’s vice-president and general manager of financial solutions, in an email to The Canadian Press.

Companies who receive funding from the program called Shopify Capital will only have to pay it back when and if their business starts to rebound through the Shopify platform.

“The merchant is not obligated to pay anything if they are not making sales,” Nejatian said.

He declined to reveal how much money would be available to Canadian merchants through Shopify Capital, but said the company is adding US$200 million to the program worldwide.

The company will decide which of its merchants are eligible for Shopify Capital in Canada by using an online application and approving those who qualify within a few days.

Meanwhile, its rival Amazon.com Inc. waived two weeks of inventory storage fees in March, as well as long-term storage fees for companies using its platform.

The Seattle-based tech giant paused loan repayments between Mar. 26 and Apr. 30 and relaxed delivery and fulfillment policies for sellers experiencing supply chain issues due to pandemic-related disruptions.

READ MORE: B.C. police can now issue $2,000 tickets for reselling medical supplies, price gouging

In an email to The Canadian Press, an Amazon spokesperson said, “We know this is a change for our selling partners and are working hard to help them during this difficult time.”

Over at Ebay Canada, businesses that are new to the platform can enrol in the Up and Running program to get selling fees on up to 500 sales waived and access a free basic store for a three-month period to help them better generate cash flow.

“The majority of Ebay Canada sellers are small businesses from across the country. They embody what it means to stay local and sell global,” said Rob Bigler, Ebay’s general manager, in a release.

“We are putting every resource into making it simple and cost-effective for them to quickly set up on Ebay and resume selling.”

The move comes after Ebay zeroed in on helping Halifax amid COVID-19 with its Retail Revival program.

The initiative launched in the city at the start of the year uses training, support and educational resources to help local business owners learn how to most effectively sell their inventory in a global marketplace.

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronaviruseconomy

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Township of Spallumcheen opens office to public again

Protocols in place but you can do business in office if you so choose

North Okanagan Minor Lacrosse cancels box season

COVID-19 wipes out indoor lacrosse; group hopeful outdoor field season will start in August

Vancouver Foundation grants benefit Okanagan-Shuswap residents

Grants of up to $500 available for ideas that connect people socially or involve sharing skills

Water quality advisory rescinded for Killiney Beach customers

Turbidity levels improve enough to rescind advisory issued May 11

UPDATED: Two sent to hospital by air ambulance following Enderby highway accident

Drivers involved in collision on Highway 97A in Enderby; serious, but not life-threatening injuries

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Summerland once had Old English theme

Design guidelines were introduced in late 1980s

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read