EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. — When Daphne Bowman received news a virus was in her corner of the world in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, her first reaction was panic. But then came opportunity: the opportunity to create an e-commerce website for her small business, which helped keep it afloat during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Bowman and her husband run Willow Spring Mercantile in the city’s downtown. The business is part retail, focusing on locally-made products, but most of her business comes from the restaurant side of the operation.
Clay County leaders forced restaurants to close their dining rooms, which forced Bowman to adapt. She had always wanted to launch a website to take food orders and sell other items, but it kept getting pushed back.
“When all of this happened, we just went, ‘Ok, now we understand why it’s so important to have an e-commerce site.’ The site we have now has allowed us to get lunch out there right away and we’re starting to work on building the other parts,” Bowman explained.
She was able to easily launch a website thanks to an offer from a website design firm with ties to the area.
When the pandemic hit, Morgansites offered to create e-commerce sites for small businesses that needed an online platform on which to sell their products.
Since the end of March, Morgansites has created 16 e-commerce sites. All for free.
“To be able to have them look to the future and see some light at the end of the tunnel, and how after they come out of this, they’re going to be able to continue to expand their businesses and be a part of that is great and amazing,” explained Joe Morgan, who helps run Morgansites as part of Joe’s Data Center.
Now that businesses like Willow Spring are welcoming dine-in customers and retailers can open their doors, Morgan will end his offer later this month.
He shared this advice to any businesses looking to create or modify their e-commerce site:
- Be hands-on and involved with whoever is making your website because no one knows your business like you.
- Connect your website to your business’ social media accounts.
- Keep your website updated regularly.
- The website doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Consider using a free, do-it-yourself website builder first and then hire a firm to manage the site once it grows.
- Don’t treat the website like a virtual business card, it needs to be interactive.
- Make the website visual.