Keeping local businesses ‘in the loop’

Businesses everywhere are reeling from the effect of COVID-19, and as an organisation with ‘local’ as a core value, we want to do our bit to help traders in our area.

Over the past four months, people are, quite rightly, staying indoors more, but that means they are turning to the internet to avoid contact with people, and that sadly that means trade is seeping away from the area.

However, there is no reason why people can’t use the internet and buy locally. In fact, many of them are doing that with local businesses that are set up to do ecommerce.

A virtual marketplace for Forres

As mentioned in our previous post (Why now is the time to really show that Forres Loves Local) we are building a ‘virtual marketplace’ where local businesses can add products into a custom ecommerce platform for people to buy locally or even from further afield. This will allow them to shop locally from the comfort of their own home, but they save on delivery costs by collecting their items, in turn driving some much-needed footfall to the town centre.

We have discussed this with a number of local businesses who are keen to make use of the platform. It will be accompanied by an app launched at or around the same time. Both are being built from the ground up with owners of local businesses providing ideas for features they would like. For instance, some already have ecommerce sites so we will have the option to process the payment or link products to existing stores.

Increasing traffic

Our website keeps people informed about local news, information and events.

And we’ve built up a significant amount of traffic with more than 30,000 page views a month. It’s an incredible jump from the 50,000 a year we logged in 2018. And for any local business that has their products in our store, that’s a lot of eyeballs.

We have always recognised the importance of keeping trade in the town. We publish a local business directory, and we report on local business news, as well as advertising business events free of charge. We also recently started a Forres Loves Local campaign that ties in with the national drive to start shopping on your doorstep, Scotland Loves Local.

We want to go further. We know that businesses have struggled through this time. The public are restricted and traders are feeling the pressure with extra measures to keep people safe.

As a publisher of information and news, we reacted quickly to the things that were happening locally. As well as providing information about shop closures, operational changes and event cancellations, we listed all the businesses on a single coronavirus page that the public could access as one central resource.

We were also careful not to ‘bombard’ you with coronavirus news on the website and on our socials. Where there are better resources available, we link to them instead of republishing advice which can change daily.

It’s been the most visited page on the entire site, and it will remain in place and edited as appropriate as long as the virus is a threat to our community.

Forres Local Business Network

We believe that businesses should be celebrated. And so we want to play our part in helping them thrive, in good times and in bad.

To that end, we are putting together the ‘Forres Local Business Network’ essentially a newsletter to start with and, when the time is right, we’ll organise some meet-ups for members, collaborative events, and campaigns. The Forres Loves Local scheme is one such campaign that has been well-received. But we must go further and we can only do that by communicating with you.

When we registered as a Community Interest Company in May, we nailed our colours to the mast. We exist to bring benefits to the town, through publicity and collaboration.

If you are a business owner, we urge you to get in touch and we will work together with you and the rest of the business community to develop local trade partnerships and opportunities. We will publish news of your business activity, whether individually or collectively to keep as much focus on the town as we can.

And this is just for the business community, we’re also looking at ways to support charitable groups and residents.

As we have said above, we want to open up two-way dialogue, and while we will always publish news of our developments, the best way to keep that dialogue going is through our newsletter, so sign up today, and let’s get started.

If you haven’t already, join our business network, and we’ll be in touch.

    If you are a business owner, we recommend you join the business network as a minimum. You can cancel anytime.

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