Some local businesses turn focus to online sales in 2021 as COVID-19 pandemic continues

Some local businesses turn focus to online sales in 2021 as COVID-19 pandemic continues

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The COVID-19 pandemic is changing more than just the way people interact, but also how retailers are doing business. More and more local businesses are finding it easier to sell online with capacity constraints, rules for cleaning and rental prices affecting in-store purchasing.

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Tina Yamaki, President of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii, said online shopping doubled this holiday season from the previous year which has led some local retailers to abandon the classic brick and mortar stores in favor of online retail.

“We are seeing the ones that have pivoted to online sales, they’re the ones that are doing a lot better than other retailers who don’t have a bigger presence online,” said Yamaki.

Yamaki said, more businesses have shifted their focus online because that is where the demand is. Shoppers are opting for convenience and variety.

“Instead of having 25 items that you can order online, they may now have 250,000 items, you know, that kind of thing. So, it’s putting more things and having it more accessible,” said Yamaki. “You can reach a national and an international audience as well.”

She said, businesses are also taking to social media to edge the competition and promote products through outfit ideas and brand advertising.

“We’re also seeing more businesses now going on Tik Tok, and Instagram and Facebook and different types of social media platforms to get the word out, and it’s not necessarily, ‘Hey we have a sale buy one get one’ type of thing, but it’s showcasing products,” said Yamaki.

One local store moving entirely online is Eden in Love. It plans to close its Honolulu and Las Vegas stores next year.

Creative director Alyssa Han said, the holiday sales helped to solidify the decision while they were considering having a bigger online presence.

“We had 1,001 orders in 14 minutes, and it was almost a shell shock of, oh my goodness, what do we do next?,” said Han.

“It showed us that there’s a huge world out there waiting for Eden in Love and whether you’re in Hawaii or you’re in Vegas or you’re in California, New Jersey, Saipan, we want to be able to honor those customers as well.”

Alyssa Han, Eden In Love Creative Director

Eden in Love recently bought a warehouse to help with online sales and locals are also able to pick up items they bought from there. Han said, it was difficult at first to switch to online. They had to overhaul their website.

“We weren’t necessarily equipped to be online. All of our inventory was in the store but knowing that it was the safest option for us to reach our customers to still give them that experience that they really deserve,” said Han.

She said, they had to hire a company from the mainland to help them revamp their website. They also had to take pictures of each individual item and upload those to the website with descriptions.

Han said, the decision to go online is ultimately a good one in the end as they need to evolve with the times.

“Things are changing,” said Han. “Retail is definitely shifting the experience, in-store is not the same. you know everyone’s masked up. We have to sanitize the pens, the register (and) the keypad. You know, fitting rooms are closed, people can’t try on clothes. How do you survive as a store? You have to be innovative.”

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