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

Haida Gwaii libraries launch new ‘takeout’ curbside pickup service

As of June 5, cardholders can once again access physical copies of books, DVDs and more

Blacktail Haida Gwaii working to reopen with new covered patio

Chef-owner Edi Szasz hopes to reopen on June 25, the one-year anniversary of the restaurant

Skidegate daycare staff recognized for creative care during COVID-19

Staff have been using social media to share isolation activities, read stories and sing songs

Village of Queen Charlotte approves business facade improvement grants

Applications from Gather, dental clinic, A Level Up approved, leaving about $14,000 up for grabs

Recycling services in Queen Charlotte, Port Clements expanding next week

Residential plastics will be accepted again, but most residential transfer stations remain closed

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

‘Great Regional Air Hug’ being organized by the Vanderhoof International Airshow Society

A multi-aircraft flyover over the region is being planned for August 15.

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Most Read