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The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has launched online trading site Neartoo, designed to support the High Street get back on its feet.
Bira is calling on independent shops throughout the UK to get on board with the Neartoo.
The website, which launched in March, is designed to not only be the latest in online shopping trends, but also help stores in hard hit High Streets recover from the pandemic.
The platform allows shoppers to find out what they are 'near to' and encourage them to explore more local shops to where they live or are visiting, but also be able to shop further afield and know they are still supporting independent traders. Already the site has hundreds of independent shops onboard following its launch to traders at the start of the year.
Dozens of stores have been signing up weekly prior to the launch of neartoo.co.uk which will help shoppers find the contact details and directions to every indie in the UK with many offering Home Deliver or Click & Collect directly within Neartoo.
The platform, which has taken around 12 months to be developed, will also be offering shoppers rewards when they shop Indie with Neartoo Local Rewards for each purchase, creating points that can be redeemed with all Neartoo Sellers. Each Neartoo Seller has been carefully vetted by Bira to ensure only UK independent shops can use the service, offering peace of mind to those passionate about supporting their locals, that they are keeping Britain's Small Independent Businesses trading.
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. The platform, Neartoo.co.uk, will complement the shops physical store and help indies move to a 'hybrid' model of retailing.
It also maximizes consumers' growing thirst to shop locally and independently, guaranteeing that money spent within a community remains there. Every retailer has its own individual profile, enabling the consumer to know who they are buying from. This will retain that personal relationship independents retailers and consumers value.
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.
Janye Weldon, Ecommerce Manager for Neartoo said: "We are really thrilled to now be launching this to the UK today. It's so important that we support the high street especially now restrictions have been lifted as it will give our local businesses that added boost they need to get back on their feet after what has been a very turbulent two years, so we are hoping to get plenty of shoppers taking a look and buying through the site."
Bira's CEO Andrew Goodacre said: "The pandemic accelerated shopping behaviours, 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 independents 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, we can't wait to see the site grow.
"Bira wants to help independent retailers achieve their ambitions and be able to trade up against other multinational online trading stores such as Amazon. There is such a huge gap between indies 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 indie 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."
Visit the new site at www.neartoo.co.uk