The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly spiked sales across e-commerce platforms of major players like Amazon, Target and Walmart. However, on the flip side, thousands of small businesses have faced the heat in this severe health crisis, forcing them to pull the shutters down. According to reports, over 160,000 businesses have closed since the pandemic began.
Noticing the adverse impacts of the pandemic on local firms, Nearby, an online platform that handles marketing, fulfillment, orders, and shipping for local businesses, has come up with a solution to help neighborhood stores to compete against e-commerce giants.
Founded by April Underwood, who previously worked with tech giants like Twitter and Slack, hopes that Nearby could help local businesses to keep up in the e-commerce space.
Expressing her views, April Underwood said that there is a need for an app or website where users can buy items from local hometown shops, and get them delivered to their doorstep similar to the way done by Amazon and other e-commerce biggies. She explained that Nearby offers what small businesses otherwise cannot afford, which includes content writers to establish an online presence, delivery workforce, and digital marketers.
Previously, Underwood piloted the program with the launch of a website called ‘Keep Oakland Alive’, that featured 40 local businesses. However, taking things further now, she plans to expand the project nationally, extending its reach to cities like Austin and Charleston.
According to Underwood, big e-commerce players like Target, Amazon, and Walmart have created a market presence in a way that customers can get easy access to products in almost all categories at the lowest prices, with door-step delivery offered as early as possible. Nearby believes this business model to be sustainable, and every other retailer, whether be big or small, should match up to these standards.
Commenting on her experience with Nearby, Erica Perez, Co-owner of Oaktown Spice Shop, said that their store was on the verge of complete shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, by affiliating with Nearby at a fee of just 5% which is collected only when a sale is made, helped their e-commerce business grow considerably.