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Somerset County businesses shift to online sales

November 26, 2018

Cyber Monday is the biggest day of the year for online shopping, and some local business owners, if not most, are taking advantage of offering their products and services on the internet now and in the recent past.

Ranging from farms to wineries to clothing outlets, Somerset County’s merchants have made the shift from selling purely in person to dealing with customers who want their items shipped directly to their home.

“I believe the vast majority I know of have online sales,” said Ron Aldom, executive director of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce. “They know where the market went. There is now online sales more than ever. They had to make that adjustment.”

“New generations don’t go shopping as much anymore. Everyone gets online to find something as fast as possible. Out of necessity, to compete (businesses) have to (be online).”

In 2017, e-commerce was responsible for around $2.3 trillion in sales in the world, according to Statista, a database that keeps track of such statistics. No figures could be tracked down for the state and county level.

Jason Blocher, owner of Milroy Farms, which sells Maple products, said that online store sales accounts for 25 to 30 percent of his total revenue. This time of year is crucial to his bottom line.

“I would guess about 20 percent increase during the holidays,” Blocher said. “We put an emphasis on it because we can reach outside of the area so much easier. Somerset County is flooded with maple. Every market and corner store has maple products in it. But it’s also a unique industry, so once you get outside of this area, there’s more opportunity to market. That’s why we put an emphasis on our internet stores.”

Blocher said the shift online has been beneficial for his business.

“The effect on our business has been positive both that it puts our farm name in a wider range,” Blocher said. “Especially with Facebook where you don’t have much invested in that kind of advertising but it reaches out.

“We have a fair number of followers on there that watch us when we’re boiling or what is going on in the farm. and it tells them where they can find our product. It’s been very helpful to us. The e-commerce has been good.”

Other businesses in the County selling online include Glades Pike Winery and Laurel Vista Farms in Somerset.

Mark Albert Barbera, owner of Mark Albert Boots, is one of the biggest successes in the area with online sales. Last year, he did half of his total business online. This year, he predicted that would rise to 60 percent.

“I think I would urge any entrepreneur or anyone who has a service to really consider selling online because it is the future of the retail landscape,” Barbera said. “There’s no question about it. You’ll find that cutting out the middle man is the most beneficial situation for you as far as margins go. It’s a great strategy moving forward.”

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