"I suspect there is a fear of the unknown for many small businesses because they do not know how to go about setting themselves up for online trading."
Shropshire retailers are missing out on online sales because of a fear of the unknown, an e-commerce expert says.
Tracy Hazlewood says her own straw poll of traders in one Shropshire market town showed almost none had an online sales platform – despite their shops being closed for large parts of the year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tracy, of Telford-based Hello Merchant Solutions, said the lack of an e-commerce offering from many local, independent traders left shoppers with no alternative but to turn to national companies such as Amazon.
“There are a number of really well-intentioned campaigns urging people to shop locally wherever they can, which I whole-heartedly support,” said Tracy.
“But if your local shops don’t take online orders and are closed because of Covid, what are shoppers supposed to do?
“I looked at the retailers in one Shropshire town and almost none were geared up for e-commerce despite it being a really simple process for many small traders. I suspect there is a fear of the unknown for many small businesses because they do not know how to go about setting themselves up for online trading.
“But if they were to take advice they would find out that it is not an expensive process, can often be set up in a matter of minutes and means that customers can continue to support their local retailers rather than spend their money on national platforms even when shops are closed.”
Tracy said e-commerce options could be tailored to suit individual retailers’ needs and budgets.
“It can actually cost nothing to do in some circumstances, and as long as the retailer doesn’t go down the wrong route is a straightforward and simple process.”