A one-stop online shop for local independent businesses in Southend-on-Sea has gone live this month – www.southendonsea.totallylocally.shop
Totally Locally Southend-on-Sea is a website dedicated to local independent businesses in the borough. Each business has their own shop within the website. Customers can browse, shop at multiple local businesses on the site and then pay for it all in one go – like one big local department store.
Totally Locally Southend-on-Sea features both shops and services on the site including everything from bikes and roof repairs to art, wine, candles, coffee and clothing. Business owners can choose to offer delivery or click and collect and can update their shop whenever they need to.
The website is part of Totally Locally, a UK wide initiative that believes local businesses are the lifeblood of towns and villages but that future of independent high streets is a combination of bricks and mortar shops with a strong online presence. A collaboration of the independent retail districts, local organisations and community activists came together over lockdown to make this initiative a reality.
Over 60 independent businesses are already live on the website including Nicola Sutcliffe, owner of Three’s Company on Leigh Road, Leigh-on-Sea and Chrissy Avaloine, owner of Groovy Baby, Westcliff-on-Sea.
Nicola said: The Totally Locally online shop is hope for the future for small independent retailers following a really tough year. I have read and heard about how well it has worked in other areas of the UK, and I’m so excited to see it in Southend-on-Sea.’
Chrissy added: ‘The website is fantastic for the local community. It is easy for businesses to use and update when we need to, and it’s just as easy to shop on it. You can tell it really has been created to make it easier to shop local!’
The website isn’t just an opportunity for local people to shop local, but everyone is encouraged to share with family and friends living outside the borough who are buying gifts for someone in the local area. With the delivery service available, someone living in Leeds could visit the site and buy someone a bunch of flowers to be delivered to Leigh-on-Sea, avoid big national chains, and support local independent businesses in other areas of the UK.
David Elcock, Community Worker at Leigh Road Baptist Church is optimistic about the potential of the website for local businesses. ‘The website has been a huge success in other towns. We know of one book shop that went online and took £4,000 in sales in a couple of months. That gives you some idea of the power of being on this website and we can’t wait to see what doors it opens for our independent locally run Southend-on-Sea businesses.’
The website is welcomed by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council. Sujun Fieldhouse Economic development officer explains: ‘The way we shop is changing, and we want to support local businesses to be able to adapt with this. The website is a great way to have lots of our Southend-on-Sea businesses under one roof, open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.’
The online shop is only one part of Totally Locally, which has a number of different initiatives to keep local businesses alive and kicking throughout the year. Totally Locally Leigh-on-Sea began in 2019 with the launch of Fiver Fest – a regular two week event that gets local businesses to offer a product or service for just £5 to encourage people through their doors or to their website. Following requests from other areas of the Borough to take part, Totally Locally Leigh-on-Sea has become Totally Locally Southend-on-Sea which means that there are now more businesses to explore and support.
Katie Sogorski, a volunteer on the Totally Locally Southend-on-Sea team and founder of ABOUT Communications has seen the impact local marketing initiatives can have. ‘We’ve run Totally Locally Leigh-on-Sea with Leigh Road Baptist Church for the last two years and Fiver Fest as part of that. It is a great example of what can happen when a community comes together to support local independent businesses. During Fiver Fest businesses sold out of items, attracted new customers and increased average spends. We want more of this excitement and passion for local businesses across the whole Borough and the new website brings us one step closer to that.’
David Mayne, Minister of Shoeburyness and Thorpe Bay Baptist Church who have Shop Chaplains working in their area is also championing the Totally Locally cause at their end of the borough.
There is still time for local independent businesses to sign up. Go to www.southendonsea.totallylocally.shop to read more information and register or to shop online.