HARRISBURG, PA — Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin announced a new program with Amazon Web Services (AWS) that will expand e-commerce opportunities for Pennsylvania small businesses and help residents buy local while shopping online.
“In this new economic landscape brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers want to do more of their shopping online,” said Sec. Davin. “It’s more critical than ever for small businesses to be able to sell their products online. This partnership with AWS is a key piece in our greater efforts to support small businesses expanding their e-commerce presence or starting to sell their products online for the first time.”
Through an innovative new online marketplace of Pennsylvania small businesses and expanded technical assistance offerings through the PA Business One-Stop Shop, small businesses will be able to expand their visibility online – and brick-and-mortar retailers who are not currently selling products online will have the opportunity to expand into the online space for the first time.
DCED has been working with AWS on developing a new searchable online directory featuring only Pennsylvania businesses that are selling products online. This will enable consumers in the commonwealth to seek out and buy online from the businesses near them, which supports local mom-and-pop stores while strengthening the community and local economy.
In addition to searching by location, shoppers will also be able to search for small businesses by product type and whether a business is minority-owned, LGBTQ-owned, Native American-owned, or women-owned. The service will be free to businesses and consumers and is designed to promote a shop-local culture in the commonwealth. DCED expects to launch the platform for consumers in early 2022.
“Small businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19, and this innovative program in Pennsylvania will allow consumers to directly buy from local retailers, buoying the local economy and creating an online portal for Pennsylvanians to sell and buy local,” said Kim Majerus, VP, State and Local Government and Education for Amazon Web Services. “AWS appreciates Governor Tom Wolf’s leadership, and we look forward to working toward our joint goal of supporting local businesses and the customers they serve.”
The new online directory is part of a larger plan from the Wolf Administration to support small businesses by bolstering e-commerce opportunities. Those efforts will include greatly expanded e-commerce education, trainings, and general best practices to grow online business sales. These additional e-commerce resources and services will be available through the PA Business One-Stop Shop, in partnership with Pennsylvania’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). Additionally, DCED provided $300,000 to support the Temple University SBDC’s Pennsylvania Digital Transformation and eCommerce Program (PADTEP) initiative, which will enhance e-commerce opportunities for small businesses in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.
Data shows that an estimated 60 percent of U.S. consumers are visiting brick-and-mortar stores less often as of early 2021. For small retailers experiencing a prolonged decrease in foot traffic, selling products online is vital to their future success. The Wolf Administration’s innovative efforts to expand support for small business e-commerce will help these businesses adapt to the shifting trends toward online consumer activity.
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