Small businesses throughout the province can take advantage of the free BC Marketplace program, which showcases B.C.-based businesses while encouraging people to shop locally, but very few local entrepreneurs have created listings on the site.
The BC Marketplace was launched in April 2020 by Small Business BC to give immediate support to small businesses during COVID-19, when consumer shopping trends shifted online. Nearly 1,900 businesses have joined the online community, allowing them to create or enhance their online presence and reach more customers at no cost.
The shift to more online shopping has left many small, local businesses struggling to develop or maintain an online presence to help them reach customers beyond their own backyard. The BC Marketplace allows entrepreneurs in every industry to upload their business information and product images, as well as offer special promotions.
For businesses with a website, the BC Marketplace will provide relevant site links, helping to boost online presence. For businesses not currently online, the BC Marketplace offers space to create a digital footprint, making it easier for customers to discover them. Creating a free profile only takes about 10 minutes, and will help participants reach more customers, open up a new audience, expand their e-commerce footprint, and encourage people to shop locally by showing them the range of goods and services available.
Customers using the site can search businesses by region, district, or community. At the moment, only three businesses in Ashcroft, Cache Creek, and Clinton are listed on the site.
“The BC Marketplace gives small businesses much-needed market exposure while helping customers discover the range of products and services available locally,” says Tom Conway, CEO of Small Business BC.
“Ultimately, we’d like the BC Marketplace to be the first stop for anyone looking to buy local. It’s easy enough to go online and order from the large sales platforms, but we believe the marketplace provides an opportunity to find hidden gems.”
“Small business owners are the people who live in your community and they’re the people that give back to your community,” says Aura Rose, owner of House of Rose Winery in Kelowna.
“When you shop with them, the money stays in your community. We employ people who live locally, we support their families, and it helps to keep people within our communities. It’s so important to support small businesses, especially right now.”
For more information on the BC Marketplace and local businesses, visit https://marketplacebc.ca/.