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ShopBayOfQuinte.ca Is a Small Business Created to Help Other Small Businesses
When Michelle Uens was looking for a way to promote her yoga business, she did what any conscientious entrepreneur would do – seek out innovative, cost-effective ways of promoting the business.
Through this sometimes exhaustive process, she discovered a website based out of Simcoe County called ShopCity.com that seemed to offer a dynamic online platform that would help with everything from creating a vibrant website, to e-commerce, as well as a user-friendly and intuitive marketing process that would make it easier for local businesses to be found by eager, technologically-inclined consumers.
That was the ‘a ha’ moment, as Uens decided that this was something needed in the Belleville-Bay of Quinte Region – and that she would be the person to bring it here.
With some initial financial assistance and sage advice from the staff of Trenval Community Futures Development Corporation, Uens was able to purchase the territorial rights to the ShopCity online platform, creating www.shopbayofquinte.ca.
Upon clicking on the page, users see a large search engine where they can simply type in a product, service, store name or any other metric to begin their search. The drop down menu to the left allows you to search based on type of product or service you’re looking for as well as links for e-cards, videos and other selections, making for a simple way for locals to find out about products and services being provided by local, smaller-scale entrepreneurs.
“it gives businesses the opportunity to market and to fit it into their marketing as an affordable plan for their digital strategy, and it’s for everyone. We do everything from professional services to non-profit agencies to any and every kind of retailer in the region. If you want to break it down, it’s like combining Yellow Pages, Yelp, GroupOn, Tripadvisor and Google Maps all on one platform, but localized. It’s like the more old school ‘shop local’ programs where you used to have a ‘buy local’ group that would work together and pool their resources so they could have stronger, more impactful advertising dollars within their community. ShopBayOfQuinte.ca is like that, except with a lot more tools to help business in a digital world,” Uens explained, adding that it’s an opportunity for small business owners on a limited budget to get their brand front and centre for the growing group of consumers who ‘shop’ using their phones or tablets.
“The kids that are millennials now and the generation behind them are absolute digital natives; they no nothing other than where to get things on their phone. They carry around the most powerful marketing tool in their hands the whole time, and so many businesses today are missing out because they aren’t digitally optimized. People are still focusing a lot of their local advertising dollars on radio and print, and people just aren’t paying nearly as much attention to those as they used to.
“The best way I can describe what we do is it’s like an online local shopping mall. At most malls now there’s a big electronic kiosk and you can go look up the kind of store that you want, and often you can press a link and it takes you to see what’s in that store. Well, this is what we offer, but so much more.”
There are a number of levels of service clients can purchase within ShopBayOfQuinte.ca from just basic listings and links, to creations of fully optimized websites with e-commerce capability, as well as management of social media interactions for the businesses.
After a year and a half of operation, Uens has added another full -time salesperson and is looking to expand her territory. At present she has the Bay of Quinte Region from Brighton and Trent Hills in the West to Napanee in the east and up as far as Bancroft to the north. Once she saw the potential of the business, Uens stopped teaching yoga and decided to go all in with ShopBayOfQuinte.ca, thanks to help from Trenval.
“They gave me the initial loan to start and be able to buy the territory and some seed funding to get going and I was able to broker a good deal with the parent company ShopCity to get started. Trenval has been such a great support in just helping me through everything. I can’t speak highly enough for what Trenval does,” she said.
“There are so many helpful supports in place for entrepreneurs, including having the Small Business Centre as one of their parents, and offering seminars and mentors – they are always positive and always fantastic at helping.”
The biggest challenge thus far for Uens, and one that no doubt will last for some time, is educating people on the importance of having a digital marketing strategy in general. That needs to happen before she can even try to extol the virtues of working with ShopBayOfQuinte.ca.
“It’s letting small businesses in on what this can do for them, and that the old stone-age marketing is just not working effectively, that there are more cost affordable ways to get your business found online and marketed properly. Just getting people educated on trying to improve their situation is key,” she explained.
“And then there’s getting people to follow through and understand that the digital world changes daily, so to keep on top of it is almost a business in itself.”
For more information, visit www.ShopBayOfQuinte.ca