Small businesses across South Carolina, from the smallest communities to the largest metropolitan cities, have an online option to market their business.
The North Augusta Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Business Roundtable hosted a Zoom meeting at their October 25 session to explain We Shop SC. The initiative is a partnership with the Municipal Association of South Carolina, Main Street South Carolina, and Beyond Main.
“One of the biggest things that we pursued this past year and a half ago was developing We Shop SC,” said Jenny Boulware of Main Street South Carolina, adding, they met with Beyond Main, an online marketplace. “We wanted to launch something specifically for South Carolina, but not isolated to our main streets, we want it to be for the entire state. So, we want all 271 municipalities to feature here.”
Boulware likened it to a digital version of the Yellow Pages of South Carolina, specifically for mom-and-pop, locally owned service, food, beverage, and retail small businesses.
“So, it really is becoming that kind of one-stop home for small businesses to gather and unite as a community, to run marketing promotions, lists, products, book reservations, all the things that you might need to do operationally to incorporate e-commerce into a brick and mortar business, as well as a destination for customers to search and seek out small, locally owned businesses in their community, or maybe even just within the state as a whole,” explained Kate Giovambattista, founder of the Beyond Main website.
There are three levels of participation businesses can choose from to join the site. There is no fee for any business that simply wants to be listed in the directory. That can include a store profile and a link to the store’s website.
A second option is for businesses that want to sell gift cards for their stores. That can be useful for stores with multiple locations. The cost to participate in that plan is $360/year.
The third plan is the full store plan. It is for businesses that want to be able to sell their products online. It costs $600/year.
“Platform-wide, we are totally commission-free. So, you keep 100% of the proceeds. The only fees you ever see deducted are standard credit card processing fees. And those end up being about 3% of the overall sales,” said Giovambattista, “Stripe is our credit card processing company that we use through the platform. Then, the balance of that is delivered to you directly into your bank account within 24 to 48 hours, depending on the time of the sale.”
Consumers can set up an account with We Shop SC that will allow them to search through all available businesses and make their purchases online. However, Boulware said they also want to use the platform to get customers into stores.
“It’s not just for e-commerce. E-commerce is great, that’s wonderful if you want to pursue that, but we really, truly want to get people in your store. We want people to touch your product, talk with you, meet you, and learn more about you. And this is a great way for them to explore you before they travel. So, this is a way to regenerate that excitement about your local offerings,” Boulware said.
For stores with paid memberships, the website will also generate information about how the business is faring via a personalized dashboard with reports.
“You have some traffic data that you can kind of monitor and this is relative to who’s looking at your page, you kind of get insights and analytics. There’s a message center so customers can message you,” explained Giovambattista.
“This is where your shop info, your customer directory, your inventory catalogs, as well as your sales performance and order tracking kind of live. At a glance, you’ll know when the selling starts to happen, you’re going to start to see some metrics like key performance indicators, what’s your gross revenue, what’s your average price point, how many sales, what are some of your best-selling items, she added.”
More information and to join as a business owner or to create a consumer account is available at: www.weshopsc.com.