Online Marketplace saves business from pandemic
Amanda Alexander is founder of Giddy Goat Toys in Didsbury on the outskirts of Manchester. Until the pandemic forced her to shut her doors the small independent business was ticking over nicely. But the pandemic changed all that.
The majority of Amanda’s sales were made in-store, with children and parents popping in to browse the toys and books before buying. Virtually no sales were made online, with less than £100 pcm being earnt that way.
However, in April 2019, Amanda joined DownYourHighStreet.com
DownYourHighStreet.com was founded by Dan Whytock and is a free to join, low commission online marketplace on a mission to create the world’s longest high street by connecting community with commerce and giving the Great British High Street an online presence. DownYourHighStreet.com hosts thousands of products that were previously unavailable online, from 100s of independent retailers, allowing sellers to create or integrate their online presence saving them time and the costs traditionally associated with establishing a visible online presence. www.downyourhighstreet.com
To begin with sales were slow, nothing exciting, but a nice little extra, and Amanda was pleased that her decision to join was paying off. Little did she know that within a few months that decision would be the one that saved her business.
When the lockdown started in March 2020, Amanda, like most other indie retailers, was forced to close her doors. With no income, times were tough, and Amanda faced the very real prospect that the business wouldn’t survive. There were still bills to pay, but nothing to pay them with.
But within a couple of weeks sales via the DownYourHighStreet.com site began to trickle in and then in April they went ‘through the roof’.
“Our sales started to hit £4,000 - £5,000 per month – all direct from DownYourHigStreet.com! We were rushed off our feet – and utterly thrilled. We went from worrying that the business may have to close, to having our best month ever – and all thanks to the team at DownYourHighStreet.” explains Amanda.
Local customers in Didsbury were using ‘click and collect’ and those further afield were enjoying using DownYourHighStreet to buy from an independently owned store that offered delivery direct to their door.
“The feedback we got from DYHS customers reflected that they liked being able to buy off an independent business. In particular they loved that they could actually speak to me via the ‘phone if they needed advice, or receive an email response to any stock or delivery queries quickly. Many commented how lovely it was to buy online from a friendly helpful person rather than a large faceless organisation that they could never get through to.” says Amanda.
“DownYourHighStreet saved my business. The online sales via the site generated enough to cover the revenue we lost when we had to close the shop for lockdown. But it’s more than just the sales, I also love being part of something again, of being able to call Dan and his team to chat or ask questions. For many small businesses, lockdown became a very lonely place – I was lucky to have DownYourHighStreet to support me and be my ‘team’. I really like the ethos of the organisation and the people within it, it’s made a big, and positive, difference to my lockdown experience.” says Amanda.
“Funnily enough it’s also meant I had to recruit extra people to help out once we re-opened after the first lockdown as we had to run both a shop and an online business. Thanks to the flexible furlough scheme I hope that we will be able to keep all our staff on going forwards as we continue to serve both local people and deliver to our online customers too.”
“Working with indie retailers like Amanda is what we love doing. Every small shop needs an online presence but trying to create and mange that yourself can be prohibitive. Since the start of the first lockdown we’ve signed up over 200 independent retailers to the platform and helped to save many of them from having to close permanently – which would be a disaster for our High Streets.” Says DownYourHighStreet.com founder Dan Whytock.
“You can’t join DownYourHighStreet unless you have a physical shop. We believe that the omni-channel approach is the one that will help keep our High Streets alive ensuring they thrive and remain great places to shop locally.”