An online platform looking to revive the independent high street is launching in a 12th Yorkshire town as small shops look to fight back against retail giants.
Shopkeepers in Silsden have decided to opt into the new ShopAppy website creating an online shop window for the local high street.
The platform is designed to provide an online collective shop window enabling shoppers to browse products, make enquiries, as well as click and collect.
ShopAppy was founded by former university lecturer Jackie Mulligan last year in a bid to “level the playing field” in the face of increased competition from big technology giants such as Amazon.
She told The Yorkshire Post: “ShopAppy is a website that brings all your local shops together in one place. It includes shops and stalls.
“It basically enables customers to look at the shop window for their town, choose what they want to buy and then click and collect it later on in the day.”
While functioning as a shop window, the website is also aimed at inspiring people to come back to the high street.
Ms Mulligan said: “We have forgotten about how many wonderful things we have on our doorstep and when you see all the products you could buy locally we hope it inspires people to come in to their high streets, their towns and their markets.”
So far the platform has been focusing on bringing life back to high streets in Yorkshire towns but Ms Mulligan can’t see why it shouldn’t work in other parts of the country.
Footfall has continued to plummet on the high street. Competition from out of town retail and online giants has had an adverse impact on traditional retailers.
Ms Mulligan said: “Our plan is to roll out ShopAppy to as many Yorkshire towns as we can and then to spread it further and further afield.
“The challenges that independent traders, small shops are facing are not unique to Yorkshire.
“In fact Yorkshire is a thriving place for independents but there are high streets in towns all over the UK that are struggling against the online giants.
“What we’re trying to do is provide a real local alternative for people so that they can support local shops, local businesses and get convenience with a local conscience.”
The former university lecturer says independent shops and businesses are more and more receptive to the idea of using technology because they realise that that’s where their customers are.
ShopAppy was due to launch in Silsden on March 3 but due to recent adverse weather conditions the launch has been postponed to March 10.
Local resident Sue Barker has welcomed the scheme and hopes it will make it easier for her to support the town’s independent businesses.
She said: “We are so lucky in Silsden to have a great range of independents but they do have to work very hard to survive with the pressure of online giants and major retailers and supermarkets surrounding them.
“There are many customers, like me, who would like to spend more locally but lack the time to do so.”
The click and collect point will be at the Red Lion in the centre of the town after the shops have closed.
“If more people shop local we can safeguard the character of our local towns and high streets,” Ms Mulligan said. “It really is a case of use it or lose it.”
Helen Rampling, manager and owner of the Bilaluci Café, said: “I’m pleased to be part of ShopAppy. Bilaluci is a long-standing family business and it is great that I can now offer my customers another option to view my products and shop at Bilaluci.
“I have seen local businesses come and go over the years and believe that ShopAppy will help our high street and strengthen our community by being more accessible to customers.”
Stephanie Calvert-Smith, owner of Dogsbody & Friends of Silsden, said: “I am looking forward to supplying our wonderful range of pet foods and accessories to more local people who are unable to get us during normal shop hours.”
Customers in Silsden who sign-up to ShopAppy will receive £5 off their first shop.