A new initiative spearheaded by Downtown London is looking to make it easier for businesses in the city’s core to sell their wares online during the coronavirus pandemic.
The organization says it’s partnered with local firm RhinoActive to develop an online shopping platform that is free for downtown businesses to use.
The new platform removes the cost and time burden for small businesses that comes with setting up an e-commerce option, and gives downtown business owners the ability to bring in revenue amid rising coronavirus cases and stricter provincial restrictions.
The province declared a second state of emergency on Tuesday and issued a stay-at-home order lasting at least 28 days. The stay-at-home order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
Under the new order, Ontario residents will be required to stay at home except for essential activities such as accessing health care or shopping for groceries. Outdoor exercise will be permitted.
For businesses, the order means that non-essential retailers — those who don’t primarily sell food, and aren’t pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, or restaurants with take-out or delivery — can only operate between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
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“It has not been easy for our members and small businesses, but we also understand it’s important to stop the spread of COVID,” said Barbara Maly, Downtown London’s executive director in an interview with 980 CFPL on Wednesday.
“Hearing from so many of our members and even talking to Londoners, they want to do what they can to support local because they know how important our local shops and restaurants are.”
Residents can browse and buy items from local businesses through the platform and can either pay online and arrange to pick up their purchase, or get it delivered.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 24 downtown businesses were on the Downtown London Marketplace.
The announcement comes days after Downtown London unveiled a new one-time “Endurance Grant” for member businesses.
In a release on Monday, the organization said the grant was to help offset costs for safety and security improvements, COVID-19-related marketing costs, expenses relating to restaurant take-out and delivery, and others.
Downtown London says the grant covers 75 per cent of total cash expenditure up to $2,000.
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