New venture bringing main street businesses together online
There’s a Calgary-made tech solution helping support local business in a new way -- by bringing them together online.
BrowseYYC.com is a local online shopping website featuring Calgary’s favourite neighbourhood shopping districts with stores selling everything from apparel and accessories, to baby and children’s goods, health and beauty items, as well as food and beverage. It’s got all the ease of a major online shopping and delivery giant but its focus is all Calgary shopping.
For small independent businesses needing to expand into ecommerce, BrowseYYC has come at the right time. The website supports Calgary’s Business Improvement Areas by letting shoppers browse boutiques and shops from their favourite shopping strolls: 17th Avenue, Victoria Park, Kensington and Marda Loop for starters.
For Calgary shoppers wanting to support local businesses, searching out shoppable websites can be time consuming. And not all small businesses have the capacity to create online shops and keep inventory up to date. Online payment and delivery is another step some business owners aren’t able to set up with limited staff.
Bringing shopping, payment and delivery into one web hub is BrowseYYC’s answer to keep businesses thriving in Calgary.
“My dream is that this project brings a whole new level of sustainability and reinvigorates Calgary local shopping by making it easier,” says BrowseYYC creator Teara McGinn. “I hope BrowseYYC is the place you go when you want to buy something local. I’d like it be the first place you go online when you want to shop. I want these businesses to see a whole new cash flow that they never dreamed they could tap into.”
The shopping platform is focusing on Business Improvement Areas (BIAs). “We want to see these business not just scrape by but flourish,” says McGinn.
Businesses who join the online shopping platform keep all their proceeds. A flat monthly fee for stores to display on BrowseYYC is being covered for the businesses in Victoria Park by the Victoria Park BIA, as well as some of our other Business Improvement Areas, for the first year in a bid to help support business during challenging economic times.
“If we don’t support local business, they’ll go away, it’s that simple,” says David Low, executive director of Victoria Park BIA. “BrowseYYC is making it easy to shop local. I’m hopeful that it’s going to be a really powerful platform. I think it’s going to crack the code and I hope we get some traction around it.”
Because the platform is new, Low is encouraging independent businesses to take advantage of the powerful expertise being offered.
“The signal amplification from being on BrowseYYC is far greater than what you’re going to be able to do on your own. You’re going to capture folks who want to shop local - they just need to be enabled.”
McGinn agrees: “A lot of businesses are finding once you have the website then you have to do the marketing. We have a team including a social media expert, SEO expert, content expert… we can put these people to work promoting the platform and the people on it. There’s sense of relief that people feel that they’re heading in the right direction.”
Platforms like BrowseYYC align with The City of Calgary’s #SupportLocalYYC campaign, which encourages citizens to support our local businesses. The way Calgarians have embraced the message is evident; it was recently recognized as Runner Up for Best Social Media Campaign in the Hashtag Awards, and has seen over 80,000 public uses of the hashtag since March 2020.
Part of the campaign includes partnering with Business Improvement Areas to help Calgarians find local businesses.
“Calgarians should care about supporting local businesses because they are the root of our economy in Calgary,” says Business and Local Economy Leader Sonya Sharp. “When you support local, you’re supporting your neighbours, friends and family. It’s so important because family builds community. I would say to Calgary: Keep supporting local as best you can.”
Business owners are welcome to download the #SupportLocalYYC marketing toolkit and participate in the campaign by visiting calgary.ca/supportlocal. To learn more about shopping locally online, visit Browseyyc.com.