Online trading

Innovative program helps Chesterfield businesses master e-commerce and social media

Chesterfield Borough Council partnered with the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce to launch Chesterfield Digital High Street in June 2021, and the project has since helped 84 local businesses improve their online offering. It provides support and advice on using online tools and can also help secure funding for e-commerce websites.

TwelfthCraft is a retail store based in The Shambles specializing in dollhouses, miniatures, accessories, trinkets and gifts. Caroline Gleadall, who owns and runs the store, created an online presence with help from those who run the program. This resulted in a 10% increase in sales and allowed him to plan further business expansion over the next three years.

Caroline said: “Thanks to the project, I feel like I have already achieved so much. I developed the confidence to pay for advertising on Facebook, and the time I spend on my social media presence has provided me with many new connections.

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The Digital High Street program has helped a range of local businesses diversify into the online world.

“It has allowed me to connect with my customers and given them the opportunity to leave reviews. I am also about to launch my new e-commerce site, which will help me reach new markets.

The project is not limited to the city center, businesses in the borough can access support. Brampton Brewery is a long-established micro-brewery based on Chatsworth Road, but has benefited from the Digital High Street scheme.

Chris Radford, Managing Director and Chief Brewer, said: “We have received a grant under the project for a new website with improved e-commerce functionality. Once launched, we expect to see significant growth in our online sales.

“To any company that is considering getting involved, I would say this: do it. There really is no reason not to. You’ll have access to a wide range of advice and services from industry experts who just want to see you succeed.

Councilor Dean Collins, a cabinet member for economic growth at Chesterfield Borough Council, said the scheme was helping local businesses recover from the disruption caused by the pandemic.

“It has been a very difficult time for local businesses during the pandemic – many of whom found themselves with limited options for doing business when Covid-19 forced their buildings to close.

“We are committed to supporting local businesses as they navigate these unprecedented times, and it is fantastic that so many people are already benefiting from this project and realizing their full potential.

Alexandra Gardner of Smile Business Support is one of the consultants who worked on the project. She said: ‘It’s so encouraging to see a board that’s sufficiently in tune with their businesses to identify the need to help them connect.

“It gives businesses the ability to connect with existing and potential customers through social media, which was so important throughout the pandemic.

“It has been a privilege to work with these very special people who work hard to keep Chesterfield the destination it is.”

Find out how your business can benefit from this scheme by visiting the East Midlands Chamber website here.