The 'Amazon of Aiken' looks to give small businesses a voice in crowded online market

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Monday, Dec. 2, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

Shops in Aiken are attempting to gain a louder voice in a crowded online marketplace. (Source: WRDW)

AIKEN, SC (WRDW/WAGT) – They’re calling it the Amazon of Aiken. ShopAiken.com combines all your favorite local stores into one spot.

They say brick and mortar is dying, but maybe these local stores just need another place to live.

Enter Alexandria Williams, the founder of ShopAiken.

“A lot of them aren't online,” Williams said. “You can go online and search Aiken small businesses and shops. You'll see their location but you won't actually see what they offer or what's being sold."

Williams wanted to change that with her website, giving local stores a voice in a crowded online market – especially on Cyber Monday.

“A lot of these people down here want a website, but it's like really hard to afford if you're a mom and pop shop,” Williams said.

So this site is free, 10 businesses hopping on board since September, but with Cyber Monday sales expected to set records, staying relevant isn't easy.

“People are just even honest when they come in,” said Bobby Walker, the owner of Beyond Bijoux in downtown Aiken. “You know, they tell me, ‘Well, I can buy this necklace online for $25.’”

But some shoppers want to look online and then buy in-store. This year, Adobe Analytics says retailers saw that increase 43 percent. Beyond Bijoux is seeing that with ShopAiken.

"Creates more revenue in the store, because they'll say, 'Oh, my gosh! I didn't see this online,’” Walker said. “Well, because I can't put everything online, and we just got it."

It’s joining the online boom, but with a local flair.

Some businesses we spoke with say they're still selling more in-store than they are online. But they all say it's getting harder and harder to stay competitive.

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