The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) is calling on independent retailers to register on its new e-commerce site to help them recover from the pandemic.
The website, which will launch in February, will offer independent retailers 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 freelancers, exclusively for freelancers, and will operate with a significantly lower sales commission than its competitors, Bira said.
The platform, Neartoo.co.uk, aims to complement brick-and-mortar stores and help independents transition to a “hybrid” retail model. Hundreds of Bira members have already signed up in just a few weeks since its launch with businesses before it went live with customers. Store owners can either sync their existing online selling platform or create their own through the platform if they don’t have the means to create an online presence yet.
Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre said: “The pandemic has accelerated shopping behavior, with increased internet usage and people also shopping more locally. This platform, owned by independents, responds to these two societal changes and will allow these retailers to open up new ways to sell to customers, and in a more profitable way.
“This is a really exciting opportunity for indi’s across the UK to be able to start selling online or increase their own visibility. This will get their products out to a wider audience and the fact that so many of our members have already signed up and seen the potential is fantastic.
“Bira wants to help independent traders realize their ambitions. If there is another lockdown, it means stores can still sell through click and collect and not lose business to other multinational e-commerce stores such as Amazon. There’s a huge divide between freelancers who don’t have an online presence and we believe they’ve been left behind for too long with the big tech companies taking over.
“It’s the answer for thousands of independent shops across the UK to maintain a physical presence on the high street, while allowing them to sell online but at a lower cost.”
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The use of the platform is free for 12 months for Bira members, and for non-Bira members they can register and get five months free.