The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has announced the official public launch of its new online trading site Neartoo.
The website, which launches on Monday 7 March, is designed to “help stores in hard hit High Streets recover from the pandemic”.
The platform allows shoppers to find out what they are “near to” and encourage them to explore more local shops to where they live or are visiting, “but also be able to shop further afield and know they are still supporting independent traders”.
Already the site has hundreds of independent shops onboard following its launch to traders at the start of the year.
Bira said that “dozens of stores have been signing up weekly prior to the launch of neartoo.co.uk which will help shoppers find the contact details and directions to every indie in the UK with many offering home delivery or click and collect directly within Neartoo”.
The platform, which has taken around 12 months to be developed, will also be offering shoppers rewards when they shop Indie with Neartoo Local Rewards for each purchase, creating points that can be redeemed with all Neartoo Sellers.
Developed in the wake of the pandemic, which resulted in at least one in five independents closing for good, the nationally-advertised platform will be “offering indies the chance to rebuild and grow their business on an easy to use platform designed for them”.
The platform, Neartoo.co.uk, will aim to “complement the shop’s physical store and help indies move to a ‘hybrid’ model of retailing”.
Janye Weldon, ecommerce manager for Neartoo said: “We are really thrilled to now be launching this to the UK today. It’s so important that we support the high street especially now restrictions have been lifted as it will give our local businesses that added boost they need to get back on their feet after what has been a very turbulent two years, so we are hoping to get plenty of shoppers taking a look and buying through the site.”
Bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre added: “The pandemic accelerated shopping behaviours, 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.
“This is a really exciting opportunity for independents throughout the UK to be able to start selling online or increase their own visibility. It will get their products out to a wider audience and the fact so many of our members have already signed up and have seen the potential, is fantastic, we can’t wait to see the site grow.”