County, town fund e-commerce websites

Sites To Benefit Fairfield Businesses

WINNSBORO – The County and Town governments are looking to fund e-commerce sites for the county’s businesses as a way to help them survive the restrictions ordered during the Time of Corona.

In a presentation Monday night during the County Council meeting, County Administrator Jason Taylor said the two governments are considering providing funding for the Chamber to pay for the creation of e-commerce websites for the county’s small businesses.

“We’ve kicked around several ideas,” Taylor said. “One idea is a way to bring our businesses into the 21st century as far as how they market themselves to the public. The concept is to help them with their web presence – not just a website that says, ‘We’re here, located on Main Street,’ but one that has a point-of-sale feature so someone can go on it and not only see what products are available, but be able to also purchase those products, then go to the store and pick them up,” he said.

Taylor credited Sarah ‘N Geo’s pizza restaurant in Ridgeway for taking the initiative to incorporate an e-commerce website into their business.

“This restaurant was struggling after COVID hit. They went online with a point-of-sale website and were booming after that,” Taylor said. “That’s a model that worked for them, so we said, let’s see if we can follow that.”

Taylor said e-commerce sites are a way to help the small businesses long term, not just temporarily.

“I think we can assist businesses with this better than giving them a one-time grant. A one-time grant is a Band-Aid. With this [e-commerce site], I think they could come out of the pandemic even stronger,” Taylor said.

Stephens agreed, saying that the pandemic had completely shut some merchants down from doing business due to the government restrictions put in place.

“Our restaurants were struggling, and the merchants were out of business. They had no way to pull in any kind of income because they didn’t have any kind of economic commerce capabilities at that time,” Stephens said.

To that end, Stephens would like to see Fairfield have a virtual component that encompasses not only the businesses but tourism and other things.

“When someone visits a town, one of the first things they do is google the places they want to see and eat at. Most of our businesses and restaurants don’t have websites. They just have Facebook. But if they don’t have a website, they don’t have a Google rating,” Stephens said.

“We are partnering with Retail Systems, Inc., out of Columbia, to connect with each of these businesses to create an internet presence,” Stephens said. “The company will deal with each business individually to customize their site to fit their needs. They will also offer guidance on logistics, video monitoring services and credit card processing services.”

Stephens said he’s contacting 30 businesses and restaurants initially to offer them the opportunity to have an e-commerce site. 

“This is a proposal to be able to basically bring our businesses up to code,” Stephens said. “Once our businesses start doing this, then we can start working on creating a virtual Fairfield.”

“The county is paying for the sites to be built and the first three months of maintenance,” Stephens said. “Thereafter, the merchant or restaurant will pick up the $50 monthly tab.”

For more information about the e-commerce sites, contact Stephens at 803-635-4242.