Online shopping platform and expert marketing support helped to take businesses digital during lockdowns

With Covid forcing many businesses to close their doors, there was a real threat to livelihoods and high streets across the region. Identifying an opportunity for business owners to move their operations online, we offered a free 12-month subscription to the community led online shopping platform, ShopAppy.com.

This allowed businesses to continue trading in a Covid-secure way and become more resilient for the future should other forced closures arise. A wide range of shops and services from across the North Yorkshire region signed up to the offer including in York, Selby, Harrogate, Leyburn, Northallerton and Thirsk. During the scheme, we engaged with 200 local SMEs, as well as built stronger connections with local authorities, networks and BIDs in order to ensure that the right support was being delivered.

The scheme crucially identified that additional digital skills support was required to enable owners to take full advantage of moving their business models online. As such, we combined the ShopAppy offer with more tailored support and guidance from local marketing experts. This aimed to help retailers maximise their presence on the platform by improving their social media and digital marketing skills so they could drive as many as visitors as possible to their online shop.

Rosie Bradford from Happy in Harmony offered her singing and music lessons through ShopAppy, and has benefited from the additional marketing support. “The training has encouraged me to go to the next level with my social media,” says Rosie. “I learnt about tools to help me schedule posts, how to tag effectively and why it’s important, and some insights into how to use LinkedIn to scale my business.

“I’m collaborating with other local businesses on ShopAppy and I’ve started tagging people and organisations more consistently. I’m also sharing posts to local groups and on my personal page much more often. This has had a positive effect on my reach, engagement, and the amount of new customers and potential customers who are benefiting from my services.

“The encouragement and advice I received has been really helpful. I now feel very confident sharing stories on social media, my blog, and enewsletter, and inspiring more people to come on a happy musical journey with me.”

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