One thing the COVID 19 pandemic has shown us is that there is an amazing sense of community in business in Ireland – from both other businesses and customers alike.
Saveourshops.ie (or aptly also named S.O.S) is another wholesome example of this, giving customers the chance to support their favourite shops in these trying times.
The about page on the site summarises the mission of the endeavour concisely: “This is a completely free service created to help small local businesses in their time of need. Send love and money!”
Set up by marketer Keith Lang, the innovative website allows costumers to buy gifts cards for businesses of their choice to help them make it through to the other side. Keith decided to create the website to support establishments during the crisis, saying that as a former bar and restaurant owner he “Knows how difficult times like this can be for small businesses”.
The website is a directory of stores, from bars and restaurants to yoga studios and health centres. Users can help out by purchasing gift cards that can be used at a later date.
On the Support a Business page, customers can click Buy A Gift Card beside any business they would like to support. The link will then bring them to either the businesses own payment system, or a page hosted by one of the voucher partner companies. Essentially, as Keith said, “Businesses get revenue when they most need it and customers still get service at their favourite small business. Everyone wins.”
There are no charges involved for businesses to be listed and Keith received a donation from a friend to help pay for building the site, working on it in his own time. The service itself is completely free, as it is run on a voluntary basis, with Loylap and Voucher Connect waiving fees for businesses during the pandemic. The contact details and links for both firms, should businesses wish to contact them, are listed on the website.
The site is definitely generating traffic. “I can see that people are visiting the site and clicking through,” said Keith. Businesses, and also customers, can suggest to be included on the site via the contact form.
“On a personal level, my biggest fear is that thousands of much-loved small businesses, the lifeblood of the economy, will disappear forever if we don’t support them,” said Keith. One way that this can be tackled is the ever-surprising level of innovation and community support that emerges from initiatives such as Saveourshops.ie.