Last March, when the pandemic surprised us all by closing small businesses across the country, many retailers quickly realized the importance of having a digital strategy.
Until COVID, adoption of digital technology was comparatively slow, with less than 30% of SMBs offering eCommerce and less than 25% investing in digital marketing.
Today, as more national and local retailers turned to e-commerce, delivery, and digital tools like GetintheLoop to stay in touch and ultimately find ways to stay in business, the commercial landscape has seemingly changed forever.
The Shop Local Movement Made Real
In early April, I realized the shop local trend would become a massive movement. Fortunately, our shop local platform and platoon of entrepreneurs were well-positioned to step up and make a difference for thousands of businesses in communities across the country.
At the time, it seemed like we were riding a trend of consumers who now truly cared about supporting local businesses. While at the same time, companies had to adapt overnight to using more digital tools to attract and engage with local customers.
After 18-months on a pandemic roller-coaster, it’s become clear that this is not a trend but rather a deepening of the shop local movement. A movement that I believe is key to our local business communities surviving and thriving.
As Canada’s shop local platform, we are at the core of what’s happening with local businesses in communities across the country. Here are a few indicators that tell me the shop local movement is here to stay.
An average of 10% of retailers ever created local eCommerce offers on GetintheLoop. Today, local eCommerce offers have bloomed with over 40% of our partners having now created an eCommerce offer on our platform.
According to the 5th Small and Medium Business Trends Report conducted by The Harris Poll this summer, now 63% of SMBs offer eCommerce, with another 14% planning to add eCommerce to their strategy over the next 12 months.
The driving factors for adopting this technology have been to continue serving customers safely, customer convenience, and remaining competitive.
Savvy, scrappy, solution-minded business owners are meeting their customers where they want to be met, and today that’s on their phone, whether it’s to discover, pre-order, or pay.
In all, 72% of small businesses have increased their online presence, and here at GetintheLoop, we have seen our platform partners grow 600% to over 6,000 companies across Canada over the past 18 months.
Consumer Growth & Engagement
During the pandemic, as consumers were discouraged from going out unnecessarily or businesses locked down, we observed that in-store consumer traffic quickly became online traffic.
Digital-ready businesses benefited, including those on GetintheLoop. We saw member engagement in our app increase by 400% during the periods of the pandemic, as consumers sought information on businesses in their community and how they could support them.
The Rise of Collaboration and Strategic Partnerships
When the chips are down, more often than not, people pull together. The pandemic has spawned numerous collaborations and strategic partnerships across North America, supporting small businesses and their communities.
Organizations like supportlocalbc.com, which has helped keep cash flowing for small businesses in BC through the pandemic by facilitating the sale of over 1M in gift cards, have sprouted from the grassroots.
Digital Main Street, a Government collaboration that originated in Ontario and has grown to multiple provinces, has also served as a template for others to mobilize funds and training for small businesses.
According to the 2021 Harris Poll, “Small and Medium Business Trends Report”, 67% of SMBs agree that community support for their business during the pandemic has been important to their survival.
At GetintheLoop, we recognized the value of collaboration early on, partnering with dozens of BIAs and Chambers of Commerce to support and promote their business members and help execute digital shop local events like the annual Jaywalkers Jamboree in Camrose, Alberta. BIAs and Chambers also stream local community offers to their websites to add value and help connect their members with local consumers.
This year we partnered with BenefitHub, the world’s largest employee lifestyle benefits company, as their members have expressed their desire for local offers and the ability to support local businesses. We also recently announced a partnership with Retail Insider to bring the publication’s business and consumer audience closer together.
It seems everyone understands the importance and value of connecting to “local”, and these are a few creative collaborations and partnerships empowering the local shop movement.
The Government has invested millions of dollars in supporting local businesses through the pandemic because they’re essential to our local economies.
Local businesses continue to undergo an accelerated digital transformation as they invest in new technology and tools at a pace over 18 months of the pandemic equaling the entire prior decade.
Or let’s talk in terms of capital investment. Since the pandemic began, 45 entrepreneurs across the country invested their financial resources and own time to help further build their communities by becoming GetintheLoop franchise owners signaling a grassroots upswell of demand for local businesses. (These Entrepreneurs and their passion for local is what gets me out of bed excited every day!)
Long term change
The 2021 Harris Poll also validates my belief that many of the changes brought on by the pandemic will remain long-term.
According to the study, 75 percent of small business owners think the operational shifts they’ve made during the pandemic will benefit them long term.
For example, 91% of retailers expect to offer contactless services after the pandemic. GetintheLoop for Business partners have access to our digital loyalty system. The system enables businesses to create contactless ‘punch cards’ and has become one of the fastest-growing features in GetintheLoop.
But more importantly, communities everywhere have demonstrated how committed they are to local businesses, with people often going out of their way, paying more, and waiting longer for goods they could have otherwise received much quicker by shopping online. The pandemic has raised the collective consciousness of consumers and the value of shopping their local downtown or shopping centre that employs thousands of people in their community.
At GetintheLoop, our mission is to make it easier to shop locally, while giving businesses easy and affordable digital tools to reach those consumers that want to support them. We’re excited for what the future holds.
Contact our team if you’re a business with a brick-and-mortar location and would like to learn more about how GetintheLoop can help you connect to nearby consumers.
If you’re an entrepreneur and are interested in bringing GetintheLoop to your city, reach out to our franchise team.