Businesses in Seattle’s historic Chinatown-International District (Chinatown-ID) thrive off people and face-to-face transactions, and the pandemic has changed all that. While some have found ways to sell products and services via their website and use the internet to promote their business, nearly half do not have any website or digital presence, according to data from the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA).
To help bridge this gap, the CIDBIA began planning a new digital-first initiative in 2020 through a collaboration with Comcast Washington. After researching the needs of the community, it became clear that owners needed mechanisms and support for selling their goods and services and reaching customers online. These resources became especially important as the neighborhood relies on important annual events, like the Lunar New Year celebration, to drive visitors to its unique business community.
After months of work, our two organizations unveiled Shop C-ID, a new e-commerce site and digital business skills training platform to get as many of these businesses’ products and services online. The new site will help businesses connect with customers virtually year-round, and give them tools to succeed during the pandemic and beyond.
A key part of the partnership will be helping those businesses without an online presence sell their goods and services and use basic online tools to continue to operate during the pandemic. Long-term, this will be a platform that fills a critical need the neighborhood businesses have wanted for years.
The CIDBIA estimates that 100 out of the 250 businesses they currently support do not have a website for selling to customers. So, when the pandemic hit and owners were forced to close up shop, many were not prepared to jump to the digital world. This joint project is bridging this divide for these owners by helping those without access to these tools and skills embrace digital to save their business and help them drive a new, internet-based strategy.
Since the launch of this partnership, more businesses are selling their goods and services online that the community loves, while also finding opportunities to expose themselves to new customers… even during a global pandemic. The ultimate goal of course of programs like Shop-CID is to not only help our local businesses survive during the pandemic but also give them the ability to thrive for years to come. And we look forward to partnering with CIDBIA to continue to help these owners get online so they can share their wonderful products and services with the entire Puget Sound community.
To shop local and support the businesses in the Chinatown-ID visit the new CIDBIA website today www.seattlechinatownid.com/shop.