City of Wolverhampton Council has become the first in the UK to team up with online marketplace eBay under a scheme to encourage bricks and mortar retailers to start up or expand their online presence.
The 12-month trial could become a template for other UK cities to join the programme, if successful and could help Wolverhampton city’s retailers create £12.4 million a year (£19,250 per business) in additional annual revenue.
The multinational e-commerce giant, which had a net income of $1 billion last year, selected the city “based on the strength and diversity of its local retail community and the City of Wolverhampton’s support of small business.”
Two sides of same coin
The plans are part of a broader eBay programme called Retail Revival, which aims to prove that “the high street and online are two sides of the same coin,” according to the company.
Retail Revival participants will receive support to create a personalised eBay shop as well as training on digital skills, online advertising and social media marketing; promotional support and access to a team that will provide guidance and troubleshooting.
Participation in the initiative is free, but in return, businesses are expected to attend training activities and one-to-one coaching, provide feedback to eBay and dedicate at least 10 hours weekly to growing their eBay business.
Broader city vision
In July, the council announced plans for a city centre commission to develop its vision for the city centre, due to undergo a £1 billion transformation.
City of Wolverhampton Council leader, Councillor Roger Lawrence, said: "We value our small retailers that bring so much character to our city centre. eBay will provide valuable support to city retailers in the wake of a challenging national retail climate affected by changes in consumer behaviour and the economy. It is an exciting programme that will help businesses with their digital marketing and sales skills, giving them a solid platform for sustainable growth.
"In an increasingly digital world, such skills are ever more important to business success and survival, complementing and boosting in-store, over the counter sales."
Research commissioned by eBay and conducted by YouGov and Development Economics found that 25% of small retailers in Wolverhampton do not have an online presence aimed at generating sales and 71% have no plans to develop one.
Picture from Gareth Williams, via Flickr, CC 2.0