Everything has not been business-as-usual since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. With brick-and-mortar stores being forced to close or drastically reduce capacity, local small businesses were among those hit the hardest by these changes to normal shopping behaviors. However, the city of Kirkland has recently launched a new initiative to bring together numerous small businesses in the form of a “digital main street” — Shop Local Kirkland.
Featuring local restaurants and eateries along with yoga studios, jewelers, dentists, vets, piano tuners and everything in between, Shop Local Kirkland strives to create a simplified experience for online shoppers to connect with small businesses in the area. Partly inspired by efforts from the city of Auburn and a similar program in the U.K. called Saving Local, Shop Local Kirkland strives to move beyond stopgap measures into long-term recovery efforts for local businesses.
This digital marketplace is a lifeline for many, since over 98% of businesses in Kirkland are considered small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Nearly 20% of those registered businesses don’t have a web presence at all, and of those that do, 50% don’t have options for online shopping or e-commerce. Since launching Shop Local Kirkland, the website has published over 200 local businesses, with hundreds more going through the registration process.
By providing digital infrastructure that connects customers directly with businesses and simplifies the complexities of e-commerce for business owners, Shop Local Kirkland has become a crucial avenue for businesses to continue to make revenue during the pandemic. As an added bonus, newly registered businesses appear on the front page of the website, drawing attention to them and helping customers discover new businesses they might have never seen before.
While many business owners are eager to return to their physical storefronts, programs like Shop Local Kirkland provide an opportunity for them to learn new skills and stay afloat until the day we can put the pandemic behind us.
This article was originally posted on 425Business by Blake Peterson.