26 May 2020
Many of the traders that depended on footfall for their business were left in shock when a national lockdown forced them to close their business.
After a lifetime running traditional customer facing businesses, they were forced into radical and quick thinking to continue to trade and engage with customers.
To help with the emergency planning, the Milngavie Business Improvement District(BID) were able to secure BID Resilience funding to facilitate the rapid development of e-commerce websites based on the Shopify.com platform, for their levy paying businesses that had been forced to close.
Contract Milngavie BID manager, Tony I’Anson, said “In many ways the COVID-19 outbreak speeded up the BID plans to implement a wholistic digital strategy in Milngavie, that we published in the 5 year business plan. All events and other BID activities were put on hold, including the BID levy payments. This meant we had to think quickly and efficiently to assist many businesses in a crisis.”
In 2019, the Milngavie BID had purchased the town’s domain – Milngavie.co.uk – following the strong recommendation from Placeity collaborator, Tony, as part of the plans for a Milngavie Digital High Street.
This communications platform for local people, local businesses and the 40,000+ walkers of the West Highland Way, has become central to local communications since the pandemic outbreak.
Along with the Milngavie social media presence, it is used to encourage people to #shoplocalonline. This was swiftly achieved by contracting in an online retail expert of over 20 years running ‘Bricks and Mortar’ and online e-commerce businesses.
Placeity collaborator, Cammy Hendry, was very quickly able to develop the e-commerce websites using Shopify.com. He fully understood the challenges retailers were faced with; and was able to complete all the work remotely.
Zoom video conferencing was also used to keep local business owners up to speed and educated about how online retail worked in practice.
For retailers that already had an online prsence, ongoing expert help and guidance has been provided throughout the pandemic. This has provided increased online sales for these retailers. Overall, the online sales and local delivery channels have helped save a significant number of local businesses and provide a positive outlook for the future ahead.
The Milngavie BID also contracted in a video production expert and locally based blogger and influencer, Fiona Russell, to produce a series of videos that would showcase Milngavie’s best assets.
Based on the early work completed in a highly collaborative spirit, during an unfolding crisis, the Placeity concept was formed, developed and implemented in early May 2020.
This will allow other towns to benefit from the experience and lifetime of work of a range of professional people from many disciplines.