The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has launched a new platform that hopes to aid independent retailers in their pandemic recovery.
Set to launch for customers in February 2022, Neartoo will act as a national trading platform to provide retailers with a new way of selling online, with the goal of helping them to build their presence both locally and nationally.
It will be exclusively available to indies and promises to operate at a lower sales commission than its competitors. Each retailer will have its own profile that will allow them to maintain personal relationships with other retailers and consumers.
Its launch comes as the pandemic presented a difficult atmosphere for independents and also falls in line with the increasing consumer trend of shopping locally.
“The pandemic has accelerated shopping behaviours, with more use of the internet and people also shopping more locally,” commented Bira’s CEO, Andrew Goodacre, in a news release. "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.”
Indie’s take the reins in online presence
Goodacre added that the new nationally-advertised platform will enable retailers to increase their own visibility, allowing them to start selling online and therefore not lose business to other online trading stores, such as Amazon.
He continued: “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 brick and mortar presence on the high street, while also allowing them to sell online but at a lower cost.”
According to Bira, “hundreds” of its members have already signed up to take part in the trading platform in the few weeks that it has been made available to businesses. Bira members can use the platform for free for 12 months, while non-members can receive five months free when they sign up.
Retailers can sync existing online sales from previous platforms or start completely afresh, depending on their previous experience with the online sphere.
Consumers could also benefit from shopping on the platform, with offers that include a number of delivery options as well as click and collect or in-person collections. Built-in Google Maps will also allow customers to easily locate the store, while the personalised profile pages further enable a more transparent shopping experience.