The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) is calling on independent retailers to sign up to its new online trading site to help them recover from the pandemic.
The website, which is being launched in February 2022, will provide independent retailers with a new, cost-effective way to sell online, helping them build their presence both locally and nationally.
The UK-wide platform, called Neartoo, is open to all types of retail and will be owned by indies, exclusively for indies, and will operate at significantly lower sales commission than its competitors.
Developed in the wake of the pandemic, which resulted in at least one in five independents close for good, the nationally-advertised platform will be offering indies the chance to rebuild and grow their business on an easy to use platform designed for them.
This platform, Neartoo.co.uk, will complement their physical store and help indies move to a 'hybrid' model of retailing.
Neartoo also maximizes consumers' growing thirst to shop locally and independently, guaranteeing that money spent within a community remains there.
Every retailer will be sharing individual profiles, enabling the consumer to know who they are buying from. This will retain that personal relationship independents retailers and consumers value.Hundreds of Bira members have already signed up in just a few weeks since it was launched to businesses before it goes live to customers. Shop owners are able to either sync their existing online sales platform, or create their own through the platform if they haven't be able to afford to create an online presence yet.
For Bira members, use of the platform is free for 12 months, and for non-Bira members, they can sign up and get five months free.
Bira's CEO Andrew Goodacre said: "The pandemic has accelerated shopping behaviors, with more use of the internet and people also shopping more locally."This platform, owned by independents, addresses both of those societal changes, and will allow these retailers to open up new ways of selling to customers, and more profitably."
This is a really exciting opportunity for indi's throughout the UK to be able to start selling online or increase their own visibility. It will get their products out to a wider audience and the fact so many of our members have already signed up and have seen the potential, is fantastic.
"Bira wants to help independent retailers achieve their ambitions. If there is another lockdown it will mean that stores can still sell through click and collect and not lose business to other multinational online trading stores such as Amazon. There is such a huge gap between indi's not having an online presence and we believe they have been left behind for far too long with big tech companies taking over. This is the answer for thousands of indi stores across the UK to still maintain a bricks and mortar presence on the high street, while also allowing them to sell online but at a lower cost."