Seeing our local businesses struggle with the changing environment that COVID-19 is creating has inspired us to make this virtual shopping mall. Our goal is to include every locally owned e-commerce site on the Big Island. Bringing them together under a single platform like Big Island Shops Online allows customers to easily find the local businesses they usually only visit in-person. It also improves the online visibility of all the businesses that participate. This is especially important to businesses that are transitioning to e-commerce as a response to the pandemic. For a new e-commerce site, quicker ranking could prevent businesses from folding. We are hoping this site gives some added resilience to our local retailers- they are too special to lose.
It’s been really fun developing this site, I’ve been able to learn about some really cool local businesses that I didn’t even know existed. It was a great reminder of how special our community is. We chose to link to the e-commerce sites in a way that people don’t need to leave the ‘mall’ to browse in the ‘shops’. We like to use images of the shops, when possible, to maintain the window-shopping aesthetic.