Cathy Burns from Your Story went out to find out how businesses are using and benefiting from ShopAppy.
Crafts of Thirsk Story
We’re better than Amazon! (that’s what all our customers say) We take orders between 10 am and 1 pm, 3 days a week, which means that some customers could place an order at 10 to 1 and receive their order by 1.30 pm, now that’s good service! They have delivered to 150 addresses during the lockdown and to some up to 3 times a week. Crafts of Thirsk is 44 years old and Samantha took it over just under a year before the lockdown was announced. They still provide old fashioned service, showing customers the pattern book to choose from. Since reopening they have set up a stall outside the shop to ensure the safety of customers. Sam told us that keeping people occupied during lockdown was important, so they created isolation boxes for children and adults. They ranged from Learn to Knit packs, packs containing pompom making kits, French Knitting and friendship bracelet kits. ‘There’s something for everyone. We’ve had so many children learning to knit along with parents who haven’t done it since they were children.’ She doesn’t have a website which she says is time-consuming to update and expensive to promote. ShopAppy has generated enquiries from people who were browsing and have then visited the shop and placed orders in-store. Sam puts a product on social media every day and directs shoppers to ShopAppy. Sam has since recommended ShopAppy to other businesses who are now enjoying the platform.
If you’re thinking of joining ShopAppy have a go you’ve got nothing to lose! according to Saltaire Wines
When Jackie Mulligan first imagined ShopAppy as a solution to her high street 3 years ago the first thing she did was talk to some of the local retailers in Saltaire to see what they thought of the idea.
One of these retailers was Dipak of Saltaire Wines. They thought it was a good idea and the rest, as they say, is history. Saltaire Wines is a specialist supplier of wines and craft beers, many of which are brewed locally. It is also home to Saltaire’s post office. At that point, ShopAppy was a click and collect service but it has since evolved to offering a local delivery service to meet the needs of the lockdown. Initially, Saltaire Wines was a collection point and he found that ShopAppy drove additional footfall to the store, who also became buyers when they arrived. In recent months sales have been better than ever and they have launched a new range of Suma organic food. All helped by ShopAppy.
I asked Dipak what his advice would be to other businesses thinking about joining ShopAppy and he said, ‘Have a go, you’ve got nothing to lose! The website is already set up, it’s not hard to use and the fees are cheap enough.
Dipak has continued to add more products to his site and he now has hundreds of products to choose from making it a better shopping experience for customers and improving his sales.
‘It’s important, really important that you shop local or local shops will be a thing of the past’ Nick Fielden of Nick Fielden Family Butchers
ShopAppy launched in Todmorden in March and it proved a lifeline for traders in the market and shoppers alike. I caught up with Claire Pattison of Choc Mouse who took the lead on the project to find out about her experience. She told me that they had made hundreds of deliveries to date and they are continuing as people are self-isolating. They are also offering a click and collect option too.
I asked her what it had done for the market and she explained that as a sole trader running her own business she has at least 12 jobs to do and if you can’t do something you have to learn. Through the ShopAppy platform, traders have worked together with other traders and from a community point of view, they have come together to work as a team, which has brought the traders even closer together.
Claire also praised the support they have received from the ShopAppy team who have been there to answer questions and help traders get on the platform.’ A lot of traders weren’t computer literate and they have had to learn’ Claire told me, ‘but they are getting there now’.
I also spoke to Nick Fielden, owner of Nick Fielden Family Butchers who joined the platform at the same time. He told us that from a business point of view being on the ShopAppy platform has really helped top up his income during the Coronavirus crisis. It has also shown how people can support local instead of the big supermarkets by using the platform. ‘We could offer delivery slots when the supermarkets couldn’t’.
He added ‘while we may not be able to compete on price we can compete on quality’. Nick has also had hundreds of orders during this period offering one-point delivery service and hopes that people will continue to shop local as the lockdown relaxes ‘it’s important, really important that you shop local or local shops will be a thing of the past’.
Nick has won a UK Sausage Award for his innovative South African Boerwoers and 10,000 people saw his Facebook Post and he’s had orders from around the country including an order for 30 kilos from Norfolk! They re working hard to keep up with the demand!
What advice would Nick give to other vendors looking to use the platform? ‘I’ve already recommended ShopAppy to a business in Scarborough who called me out of the blue and asked me what I thought of it and I told him what I’m telling you, you’ve got to do it!’
Where there’s a mill there’s a way!
Worsborough Mill is a 17th Century working watermill set in 240 acres of Country Park. Today the museum is carrying on the tradition of stone grinding flour using waterpower. Using organic grain sourced from the UK, they create premium quality flour.
Over the past few months, they have been working hard to increase flour production at a time when it has been needed most. They have reached a new record and milled almost 24,700kg since April (which is more than they produced during the whole of last year)
Simon the Miller and Charlotte, assistant Miller are involved in all aspects of the operation from ordering grain, milling the grain to delivering flour. It’s been extremely busy but a hugely rewarding time.
In May they joined ShopAppy and I asked Simon how ShopAppy had helped their business. He told me ShopAppy has enabled them to carry on trading and has given them a retail presence during this challenging time.
Prior to getting on the platform, they were receiving orders by email and phone and it was taking an enormous amount of time organising the orders and chasing payments. ShopAppy takes care of that, shoppers can place their order online, make payments there and then and input all delivery instructions. Our after-sales support team ensures that orders are fulfilled and that both the business and the customer are happy.
They have received almost £1000 of orders since joining the platform – and that’s a lot of flour!
Along with supplying the trade, Simon is passionate about supporting smaller Yorkshire businesses and he has received orders from all over the UK including Glasgow, Bath and the Isle of Skye!
He is looking forward to welcoming customers to the shop as well as continuing to supply the niche market of home bakery online.
Occasions of Thirsk says "this is a great opportunity"
I was asked to give my reasons for joining the ShopAppy initiative. Firstly, I would like to say that this is a great opportunity for all independent businesses to diversify, whether they are currently internet savvy or not.
We have all faced a difficult time over the past few months, and this has further highlighted to me that we need to offer a local alternative to high street shopping, whilst keeping the high street vibrant.
Many of Thirsk’s businesses supported the community during lockdown by remaining open. The ‘non-essential’ shops also did a lot to keep a level of service going. What ShopAppy is able to offer is an opportunity of all shops to be of service going forward. We are facing a relatively unknown in people’s shopping habits, so it makes sense to look at alternatives so we are well placed for our businesses continued recovery.
The opportunity to be part of this initiative couldn’t have come at a better time, its in the early stages for Thirsk and will only succeed if we all get behind this, stick with it, and promote, promote, promote!
The ShopAppy team will provide support for you to get set-up, it is very simple, easy to manage, you are in total control, its just another shop window in effect, but could mean so much for your business.
For me it’s a no-brainer, nothing to lose, and everything to gain, its funded for 12 months so doesn’t cost your business anything except a little time.
Want to join them? Email [email protected] or sign up.