This post appeared on urbancity.com written by Robert Cekan. To read the original post click here.
Local Hamilton shopping goes digital with ShopHamont
Two Hamilton entrepreneurs are using their startup to help small brands take the next step into digital retail.
Nicole Alexander is a well-known blogger and Sarah Killins runs an eCommerce agency called Kased Communication. Together, the two teamed up to build and market ShopHamont, Hamilton’s first online artisan market. The market allows local businesses to harness their collective marketing power and have a dedicated team marketing and selling their products online.
The website is set up as an online marketplace, hosting dozens of Hamilton brands in one place, giving customers a similar experience to what they would get at a local store or marketplace event.
When Alexander and Killins launched their online marketplace in September 2019, they never dreamt it would help alleviate stress to small business owners in the midst of a pandemic. They simply wanted to provide an alternative option for Hamilton Artisans to sell their products online.
To be a ‘Seller’ on ShopHamont, merchants are asked to pay a one time onboarding fee before getting their custom branded page and listing products online. Given the local business climate, ShopHamont is offering free 3 month memberships to ShopHamont businesses.
Killins and Alexander are hoping that by giving local merchants another avenue to sell their products online, it will help their revenue during these tumultuous times.
The marketplace features a wide array of product classes including home goods, bath & beauty, jewellery & accessories, art & collectibles, and clothing. Well known Hamilton brands like MettaMade and SariKNOTSari are already part of the marketplace.
“Selling online can be overwhelming for a lot of business owners; I’ve seen it first hand working for Shopify and now owning my own eCommerce agency. ShopHamont is meant to be a community that connects local merchants with consumers wanting to shop local 24/7, making it really easy to purchase the best local goods from multiple makers online, all in one place.”
The online marketplace has its own support team, helping customers with any inquiries and ensuring prompt delivery of packages.
Each item ordered on the store is shipped directly from the brand or maker. Killins and Alexander have taken a popular fulfillment method “dropshipping” that is used for global retailers and deployed it on a local level, connecting consumers with locally made products like never before.
“We realize what we’re doing is innovative, but that doesn’t mean we have to be exclusive about it, especially in times like these. We are very fortunate to not have high overheads like some other businesses and we want to pay that forward where we can, which is why we are waiving our onboarding fee for 3 months for Hamilton-based businesses. We want to make selling online as easy and accessible for Hamilton small businesses as possible, while making shopping local goods online easy for the consumers wanting to support local businesses and get high-quality products,” says Alexander.
The marketplace has Hamiltonian roots throughout it, with a lifestyle blog talking about the best places to eat in the city and business building tips and resources for their merchants.
In September 2019, the collective hosted a launch party at Redchurch Cafe, revealing the store and thanking the business owners who were part of the launch.
Founders, Sarah Killins (front left) and Nicole Alexander (front right) celebrating with ShopHamont Sellers in 2019 at the Launch Party at Redchurch Cafe.
After a successful launch, ShopHamont teamed up with Shopify in December to host a “Holiday Halftime” mixer for small business owners at Steel City Studio to celebrate the hard work of all the makers and artisans in Hamilton.
“Connection is important, both online and off. With the climate right now, our team is exploring new ways to cultivate community and connection online. Opening up our doors to businesses who need support is just the first step and we’re just so grateful to be in a position to help,” says Killins.
In times like these when local stores are forced to shut their doors and national artisan shows like Toronto’s One of A Kind are cancelled, it’s good to see Hamilton artisans utilizing local alternative options to keep themselves afloat.