New marketplace aims to support small businesses affected by bushfire
A new online marketplace and business directory has launched to help small businesses impacted by the bushfires to connect with Australian consumers who want to support them.
Spend With Us, which launched a week ago, allows small businesses in bushfire-affected areas to easily sell their products online, even if they don’t have a web presence. They can also receive donations or “pay it forward” purchases, where people buy a virtual meal or product for the local business to give to someone in need.
It was created by freelance web designer Sarah Britz, whose own property on the Central Coast in NSW was spared by the recent bushfires.
“I wanted to help people affected by the bushfires and put a shoutout [on social media] offering my skills pro bono,” Britz told Internet Retailing.
She quickly realised she could have a bigger impact if she created an online marketplace rather than websites for individual businesses.
“A lot of businesses are suffering,” she said. “I spoke to one restaurant owner who said they only had six customers come in all day, and they had to pay staff and rent.”
Britz built the marketplace in about a week and is now accepting applications from businesses to be listed on the site. This is to ensure that site only promotes businesses that are located in areas that have been affected by bushfire.
Once approved, businesses can upload their logo and product images using a simple store wizard and link their PayPal account to sell items and receive donations through the site. If they don’t have one, or don’t want to sell online, they can still list their business in the directory and benefit from the increased awareness that Britz hopes to generate through social media.
There are currently 36 businesses on the marketplace. Britz is hoping more will sign up as word spreads.
“My aim is to keep the site completely free,” she said. “The only fee a business has to pay at the moment is the PayPal processing fee.”
Besides building the site for free, Britz is covering the hosting costs herself.
She believes it’s important to centralise the support that has been pouring in for individuals and businesses affected by the bushfires.
“I was seeing various Facebook and Instagram initiatives, but my husband isn’t on social, so he wasn’t getting access to that [information],” she said.
It was also hard to search for specific products on Facebook, which is why she decided to build Spend With Us.
“I think the main thing for me is to try and get people to share and tell others about the website, and to let small businesses know they can create a really quick and website,” she said.
Still, there’s only so much Britz can do.
“I’ve been speaking to people in bushfire relief groups,” she said, “and at the moment they don’t have internet available. People have to drive 30 minutes to get to a library to get online.”
Want to support Australians affected by the the bushfires? Here are a few places to start:
- The Salvation Army disaster appeal
- The Red Cross disaster relief and recovery fund
- Vinnies Bushfire Appeal
- NSW Rural Fire Service
- VIC Country Fire Authority
- SA Country Fire Service
- QLD Rural Fire Brigades Association
- WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue Organisation emergency fund
- Wildlife Victoria bushfire appeal
- Zoos Victoria bushfire emergency wildlife fund 2020
Here’s what else Australian retailers are doing to support those affected by the bushfires:
- How retailers are helping bushfire-affected Australians
- Good360 makes plea for centralised response to bushfires
- The Iconic opens warehouse, HQ as bushfire donation hub