Page 18 - MarketTimesOctober2020
P. 18

 Future-proofing traditional
markets — balancing online
and offline
DOMINIC WHITE, Head of Merchant Sales and Acquiring, Visa UK & Ireland
 AS MORE local shops, businesses and markets across the UK reopen their doors, it could be easy to forget the incredible ways many of these businesses adapted to continue serving customers and survive a challenging lockdown.
It’s been encouraging to see how independent stores and markets embraced the digital marketplace by setting up an online shop. Nevertheless, taking your business online still remains a challenging prospect for many market traders and that’s where platforms like came in. is an ecommerce platform providing a “virtual high street” where small
businesses can set up a digital store front and sell to consumers online. Right at the start of the crisis, Visa partnered with, enabling them to expand the service to more towns and cities across the UK so that more businesses could take advantage of their platform at a time when they had to shut their physical stores.
Now, over 100 high streets are present on the platform with hundreds more small businesses — from small cafés on the local high street to market traders in town centres — are on’s platform. Market stalls like those in Barnsley Indoor Market were able to quickly move to online trading when lockdown hit with many of the 80 different traders that make up the market moving to the platform within weeks, allowing consumers to still shop at their favourite stalls from the comfort of their home.
The ability to trade online is now a concrete part of these market stalls’ business model and has helped traders not only to maintain their relationships with loyal customers but reach new ones.
Market and Town Centre Manager Maria Cotton explains: “A number of our businesses had started to sell online during lockdown. In many cases this was initially to their existing customers, helping to maintain that established and important relationship with them. They
then started to see new customers shopping with them using their online channels and in a number of cases this has now become an integral part of their business model.”
As shops and market stalls reopened, many found that the combination of both a physical store and online presence increased their customer base and strengthened sales.
Maria Cotton adds: “In Barnsley we have seen a positive recovery of our footfall. The presence of our traders online during lockdown has certainly contributed to the wider recovery of the town centre shops and market.”
Alongside Visa’s partnership with ShopAppy, we continue to work with a number of industry, technology and community partners to enable local markets across the UK to fully maximise the benefits of online and offline shopping. Other partners include Forever Local, iZettle’s new small business hub, and Totally Locally, a grassroots initiative to help small businesses and communities work together to protect the future of independent high streets by providing free Town Kits and a network of peer support.
This October, Visa and Totally Locally are encouraging small businesses to sign up to the upcoming Fiver Fest, a celebration of Britain’s small, independent businesses. Over a two- week period from October 10 to 24, towns across the country will host £5 special offers to showcase the range of products they sell and thank the communities that support them. It will be a fantastic event and any small businesses looking to get involved can visit to find out more.
At Visa, we’ve been truly inspired by the number of market communities across the UK that have shown their willingness to make the step to online trading to support their physical businesses, and we’re proud to champion these small businesses as they continue to support their local communities at this crucial time. Market stalls have been an icon of British towns for hundreds of years and we can all do our bit in ensuring that they remain part of our communities for the years to come.

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