Businesses Face Pandemic Via E-commerce, Social Media | South Dakota News
By ARIELLE ZIONTS, South Dakota Public Broadcasting
RAPID CITY, SD (AP) – While some businesses in South Dakota have struggled during the pandemic, others have found success by expanding e-commerce, online messaging and social media services.
Each week, quilters from around the world can participate in Fabric Friday, a virtual shopping event hosted by Quilter’s Corner in the small town of Faulkton.
Fabric Friday is like QVC but dumber, only focused on fabric related products, and it’s on Facebook instead of your TV.
The staff at Quilter’s Corner aren’t afraid to be festive and a little quirky during Fabric Friday. They dressed up in ugly Christmas sweaters, unicorn costumes, Bob Ross wigs and construction hats while draped in yellow ribbon as they enthusiastically showcase items for sale, South Dakota Public Broadcasting reports.
“My manager and my daughter-in-law get along and they are very entertaining, they have an audience of people who love to watch them,” said owner Lori Holt. “They will go ahead and they will introduce new products and talk about new things in the store and that in itself creates a lot of sales for us.”
Viewers post whatever articles they want in the comments section and the CommentSold software then directs them to an online shopping cart.
Quilter’s Corner also created an app, added an online chat feature to its website, and started participating in online “hop shops”.
The store participates in the Heart of South Dakota Shop Hop along with other quilt stores in the eastern part of the state.
Participants receive a “passport” and earn “stamps” for shopping in each store. They then participate in a raffle to win a prize, such as a sewing machine.
During the pandemic, Quilter’s Corner began joining online stores with stores across the country as some customers would not feel comfortable visiting in person.
“And it was really a great experience because we have now developed a following of clients from all parts of the country and we probably would never have ventured into this part of the business without the pandemic,” said Holt.
Montgomery’s is a furniture store in Sioux Falls, Watertown, Aberdeen and Madison known for its interior design services.
During the pandemic, Montgomery’s added a “what’s your design style quiz” and live chat on its website where customers can ask staff for design advice or learn about specific products.
Owner Eric Sinclair said he plans to hire more workers for the after-hours live chat. It has already added around 60 positions during the pandemic due to the increased demand it places on people spending more time indoors.
“Maybe after the first few months of the pandemic, once everyone knew the world wasn’t coming to an end, they just started spending money on their house and it didn’t happen. is not stopped. It was just absolutely crazy beat, ”Sinclair said.
Montgomery’s also took advantage of social media.
“We would have full sales where we had merchandise ready, we would showcase the merchandise through Facebook and Instagram, we would get phone calls and sell it directly from there,” Sinclair said.
He said Montgomery’s has seen its online orders triple, which is important because most people still prefer to buy furniture in person rather than on the internet.
Sinclair has also noticed that people browse products online, select items for checkout, and then bring a printed version of their cart to the store to purchase the items in person.
Black Hills Bagels in Rapid City created a website and phone app in 2018 where people can order bagels and coffee. Customers can pick up their order or have it delivered.
Co-owner Debra Jensen said the bagel store added these ordering options after noticing the trend towards e-commerce. This gave Black Hills Bagel a head start when the pandemic began in early 2020.
“Oh, we’re definitely seeing more people using it during the pandemic,” Jensen said. And then what they find out is that they like it and so I don’t think it’s going to be a trend that’s going to go away.
Jensen said customers like to save time by ordering online.
But she said there’s a downside when business turns to social media and online sales: a decrease in forming close relationships with customers.
Prior to ordering online, Black Hills Bagels knew all of their customers’ names and their signed orders. Jensen said it now takes longer to forge that relationship when customers only come to pick up food – not to order it.
“I always think of us as Cheers. People want to go where you know their name and it really is South Dakota anyway, ”Jensen said. “I don’t want to lose this. I don’t want to lose it here and I don’t want to lose it for South Dakota.
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