New E-commerce platform aims to increase online visibility for Marion businesses

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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - As online shopping becomes more popular, local brick and mortar businesses are trying to keep up and stay visible. A new e-commerce effort in Marion is aimed at doing that.

Shop Where I Live is an online e-commerce platform, new to Marion. Through the service, people can browse products and services from local businesses all in one spot. Cherie Edilson started the business, which partners with local chamber organizations, including Marion's Chamber of Commerce.

She says it’s helping fill needs that small businesses face.
"Local Businesses are limited in their hours and time frames," said Edilson. "The business works for those who may not have a website yet."

MODE owner Danielle Rings agrees. She says they've been operating in the Marion community for about 5 years, but as a small business visibility can be a challenge.

"It's expensive to advertise on the radio. It's expensive to advertise in print. It's expensive to do boosts and posts on Facebook,” said Rings. “So to have an online presence without having to go out and spend $30,000 or $40,000 creating a marketplace website has been a Godsend."

This Cyber Monday, U.S. shoppers spent a record breaking $9.4 billion in online sales. However, small businesses notice most customers are turning to big sites like Amazon or E-Bay for shopping.

Edilson says this effort is aimed at getting those online shoppers to turn local.

"It's really easy to shop on Amazon or some of the large marketplace websites but there's a lot of products just here in our communities. It's just knowing who has them," said Edilson.

Rings says it's given them that drive in business needed not just during the holidays.

"Right now everybody's shopping. It's in January, and February when the weather is crummy and you’re not shopping for Christmas, that's when you really need to drive traffic," said Rings.

She says it's especially helped this Cyber Monday.

"We had great sales. I think every Monday and every week, it picks up steam," she said.

22 Marion businesses are currently using the service.
Edilson says they hope other businesses get involved because at the end of the day, it's about investing in where you live.

"Before you shop online, think about a local business first," she said.
Marion businesses that sell on the marketplace pay a small monthly or annual fee. Their other online marketplaces include Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls and Mount Vernon.