Small businesses struggle with e-commerce platform ahead of Cyber Monday

Published: Nov. 29, 2020 at 9:21 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - For some small business owners this year, they say Black Friday and Small Business Saturday were very busy and prosperous. But they don’t see that continuing on Cyber Monday. That’s because several local shops say it’s hard for them to be able to manage and afford an e-commerce website.

Owner of Apron Strings Anne Dowell said, “Shopping online isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Everybody thinks e-commerce should be very easy; just throw it all online.”

As the owner of Apron Strings in downtown Hutchinson, Dowell said they’ve tried to build an e-commerce platform for the store -- but it wasn’t successful.

“Hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars to do it right and to do it correctly,” said Dowell. “It hurts, I don’t have a lot of extra money laying around. And then you have to have a whole other person to track the inventory, to wrap it up, get it ready to package, get it mailed, you’ve got to pay for shipping, it’s just not as easy as people think.”

To accommodate customers with COVID-19 concerns, dozens of stores in the Wichita area, including Dowell’s, still offer merchandise and gift cards. Customers just have to call the store.

“I think every small business I know is bending over backwards to make customers happy. We’ll take pictures and we’ll send it to people, we’ll talk them through what we have. All it takes is a phone call to see what they have and what they’ll do,” said Dowell.

But Dowell said shopping in-store will eliminate the porch pirate threat.

“We try to make sure that the person knows that it’s on their doorstep. Because that is a very real thing and it happens even in our small towns. I can’t afford to replace something that’s been stolen,” said Dowell.

Sales were better than Dowell expected this Black Friday and Small Business Saturday for both of Apron Strings’ locations, thanks to the large ‘shop local’ support during the pandemic.

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