February will see the launch of Neartoo, a new online trading platform exclusively for independent retailers, including cookshops and housewares stockists, created by Bira (The British Independent Retailers’ Association). The association is urging all independent retailers to sign up, regardless of whether they are Bira members. Neartoo will complement physical stores, helping independent cookshops and housewares retailers move forward with a ‘hybrid’ model of retailing.
The platform will provide independent retailers with a new, cost-effective way to sell online, helping them build their presence both locally and nationally. The UK-wide platform will operate at significantly lower sales commission than its competitors, with time-saving benefits such as one-click product uploads.
Developed in the wake of the pandemic, Bira says its nationally advertised platform offers indies the chance to rebuild and grow their business on a platform designed for them. Neartoo also supports consumer desires to shop locally, benefiting their local communities with their purchasing power. Retailers share individual profiles on the platform, enabling consumers to know who they are buying from and fostering personal relationships between shops and shoppers.
Papyrus, the cookshop, gift and home store in Glasgow, is among the hundreds of Bira members who have already signed up to trade on Neartoo. Shop owners can sync their existing online sales platform or create an ecommerce presence for the first time through Neartoo. For Bira members, use of the platform is free for 12 months, while non-Bira members can get five months free when they sign up.
Describing Neartoo as “a really exciting opportunity for indies throughout the UK to be able to start selling online or increase their own visibility,” Bira’s ceo Andrew Goodacre acknowledged: “The pandemic has accelerated shopping behaviors, with more use of the internet and people also shopping more locally. 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.” Independents will also benefit from being part of one order from a consumer.
Andrew added: “Bira wants to help independent retailers achieve their ambitions. If there is another lockdown it will mean that stores can still sell through click and collect and not lose business to other multinational online trading stores such as Amazon. There is such a huge gap between indies that do have an online presence and we believe they have been left behind for far too long with big tech companies taking over.”
He concluded: “This is the answer for thousands of indie stores across the UK to still maintain a bricks and mortar presence on the high street, while also allowing them to sell online but at a lower cost.”
To sign up or find out more about Neartoo, independent cookshops and housewares stockists (including non-Bira members) can contact the Bira membership team on 0800 028 0245 or email firstname.lastname@example.org