A West Midlands businessman is calling for a local shopping revolution to help small retail and hospitality businesses survive the latest lockdown.

Cafes, takeaways, farm shops and convenience stores in towns and villages need the support of their local customers if they are to continue trading, according to Russ James.

With business partners Darren Nelson and Andi Elliott, Russ has launched a drive to save our High Streets by helping thousands of shops, pubs, restaurants, takeaways and others survive lockdown and thrive afterwards.

They have designed and developed Ourlocal.uk – a low-cost online ordering system and have been signing up shops in Stafford, Lichfield, Penkridge and Wolverhampton to create their own e-commerce websites.

The launch of Ourlocal.uk means those businesses not allowed to open under lockdown legislation can get e-commerce websites within as little as 24 hours, ready to take online orders from customers and arrange deliveries.

Russ said: “The government is calling on all of us to stay local to avoid spreading coronavirus. As a result, many of us are now beginning to realise what an invaluable service our local shops provide. If we all divert some of our spending from supermarkets and big stores to our local shops it will have a major positive impact. We are calling on customers to support a local shopping revolution by buying more from shops, cafes and takeaways in their own area. This will help small businesses that provide jobs for local people to survive. It’s a win-win situation.”

The business partners have issued an SOS – Save Our Shops – urging thousands of small businesses to begin trading online to help them survive the impact of the pandemic.
Driven by the desire to make a difference, they developed Ourlocal.uk with a mission to provide low-cost, e-commerce websites to enable local shops to get selling online. Dozens of small businesses across the West Midlands have signed up to Ourlocal.uk.

“Getting online could be the single best decision these businesses make. It could be the difference between survival and bankruptcy. Now, more than ever, we must support shops, pubs, restaurants and other small firms if we want them to survive. Tens of thousands of jobs are at stake.”

During the first three months of the initial lockdown a reported 85,000 businesses in the UK started selling online.

However, there are a number of challenges facing businesses that want to get selling online:

• Cost – a typical e-commerce website would start at £2,000-£3,000.
• Technical knowhow – building an online shop yourself using a platform like Wix/Godaddy/Squarespace/Shopify requires a degree of IT skill.
• Time – local businesses are already working really hard to survive and have little spare time to dedicate to building and running an online shop.

“We believe an online shop is a vital addition to any business, even more so in recent times. We help customers get selling online quickly, without the need for any upfront payment or technical skills. Furthermore, we don’t charge commission and we ensure that their online customers are theirs for the long term.”

Russ added: “It has been amazing to see these small businesses begin making money through online ordering. They can see that having their own click and collect/delivery system makes sense. Their costs are reduced dramatically and they are in complete control from start to finish.”

Ourlocal.uk is an innovative new company that designs and delivers e-commerce websites for small businesses – covering the cost of set-up – so they can take online orders from customers and arrange deliveries and collections. Visit www.ourlocal.uk