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Shop 112 is a women’s boutique in McAllen in the courtyard plaza on 10th Street and Dove. In the past eight years they’ve been open, they have expanded their square footage twice, outgrowing the previous spaces they filled before.

Though they continue to expand, the pandemic brought on new challenges as they tackled a great unknown —  e-commerce.

By the first two weeks of the first shelter in place order in Hidalgo County, they knew this was going to last a lot longer than anyone anticipated. It was then when they made the decision to move their inventory to 100 percent online, where as before, only 10 percent of their items were placed for sale through the website.

“Within two days, our marketing team and models were able to model and photograph every single piece we had in the store,” said Monique Sanchez, co-owner of Shop 112.

Upon this realization, they began strategizing just how they were going to successfully move their shop entirely online. Prior to the pandemic, they would update the sales floor and create a layout that would appeal to customers depending on the season, trends, and events happening in the area.

“Now it’s different. We’re not just catering to our clientele in the Valley, but we are reaching customers from other states in the country,” she said. “Instead of organizing the sales floor, it’s a matter of deciding which pieces will be on the homepage on our website.”

Sanchez mentions they’ve received a lot of positive feedback from fashion enthusiasts all over the country. Some are Valley natives who now live out-of-state and are thrilled about being able to shop their stuff online. Others are first-time shoppers.

“We delved a lot into how our marketing would work,” Sanchez said. “No one was going out, so we shifted our marketing from ‘where would you wear this’ to ‘how would you wear this, how does this make you feel.”

Sarah Davila, Shop 112 buyer, shares her experience regarding the entire process.

“Having switched our tactics from in-store shopping to online has been fun, challenging, and allowed us to open our minds to get customers to shop online,” she said. “It’s been a learning process I’m grateful for — I’ve learned a lot.”

One of the other things they have had to learn is the usage of SEO, or search engine optimization, in their website to be able to target their demographic and continue to meet their daily goals.

“The best analogy I can provide for comparing retail to e-commerce is by comparing dancing to figure skating,” Sanchez said.

Overall, she says it’s been a blessing in disguise.

“Had this not happened, I would have never pushed myself to learn digital marketing for our business,” she said. “I would love to expand our business to be able to offer more careers and for our store to reopen in 2021.

“The hardest part has been having to furlough more than half our team —  we’re like family. But the rest of them have been really understanding about having to adapt.”

“We have an amazing team of hardworking ladies that believe in the dream that Shop 112 is more than a small boutique, but a company that encourages strong, positive examples to young ladies out there,” said Shop 112 owner Mayra Brown.

How has your shopping changed during these times? #JoinTheConversation at facebook.com/rgvisionmagazine.