COLUMBIA, S.C. — Small business owners in the Midlands are turning to the internet to boost their sales. To compete with big businesses, locally-owned businesses in the Midlands are increasing their online presence to meet market demand.
Small businesses are the engines of the economy. The pandemic was hard on locally-owned businesses, with some closing their doors forever. As new businesses emerge and existing ones fight to stay open, many are finding new ways to get customers through the online world.
It's the convenience of online shopping many of us love. Store manager at Cola Kicks in Five Points, Joseph Scarlet, says their website has more than 5,000 products listed.
"To stay in business these days you've got to have an online presence," said Scarlet. "All they have to do is find the shoe, add to their cart, select instore pick up they come in and their done. It’s helped us a lot and makes it a lot easier for the customer, too."
As large retailers slash prices during the holidays, small businesses are using online platforms to extend their market reach.
Cola Kicks is making use of social media. "Instagram is such a big tool for us," Scarlet said. "We have people in other countries buy from us."
Carl Blackstone, President of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, says accessibility of shopping online and through apps provides shoppers the opportunity to find business's products.
"Online sales have just gone through the roof," Blackstone said. "You put your goods and services on the internet, your market place has grown exponentially."
Heather Burns, owner of Revente, says online sales has helped her sustain and grow sales.
"It was something we needed to do to push our sales," Burns said. "If they see something, they can buy it right away."
According to the Columbia Chamber, online sales in South Carolina were up 50% last year, and this year the state is up 20%.