Cape Breton small businesses embrace online shopping

Sydney small business owner Rochelle Simmons opened her baby clothing boutique back in April 2021, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic pushed her to launch an online store option, which turned out to be a success.

“It’s an extra platform for people to find out about our products and our store, and we ship across Canada so even those who can’t get into the store are able to find our products online,” Simmons said.

On Tuesday, CTV Atlantic cameras got a rare tour of the Amazon delivery station warehouse in Dartmouth. With Tuesday and Wednesday being Amazon Prime Day roughly 20,000 packages per day will come to the station, before being shipped out to customers.

“It’s definitely going to be the highest volume we’ve seen at this station, besides around Christmas time where we do our peak volume,” said area manager Emma Dowell.

“We’re going to be seeing our highest volume this year, so our volume is almost doubling.”

As for those who are shopping online, digital anthropologist Giles Crouch said it isn’t only the younger crowd like many might think.

“An older generation will look for the reviews, but they’ll tend not to trust them,” he said. “So they’ll actually do some deeper research. They’ll look for YouTube or Instagram or TikTok videos where they can see how other people are using the product.”

Crouch said there are downsides to the growing trend of shopping virtually, like how in some cases the bigger retailers may take business away from smaller ‘mom and pop’ stores.

He added that even when people want physical retail experiences, the journey often starts online.

“So when we’re going out shopping, we’re looking for places that are destinations,” Crouch said. “We want to go with a friend or a member of the family, maybe there’s a birthday coming up. Maybe it’s Christmas or Easter. We tend to do that shopping for the social experience. We’ll go to the stores, but we’ll also go have a coffee or have a meal before or after that shopping.”

Crouch said that while people may go somewhere like a mall or a downtown core for that afternoon out together, when it comes to buying much quicker what can be bought in big box stores is shifting more online.

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