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Platform to Support Independent Food & Drink Retailers in North Wales

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Siop.io is a local bilingual e-commerce platform that has been developed over the past year in order to provide a better way for independent food and drink retailers across Gwynedd and Anglesey to reach their local communities.

Restaurants, pubs and takeaways will also shortly be able to benefit from the service, which will allow them to compete more effectively with supermarkets through the fulfilment of online orders placed locally.

North Wales software consultancy Kodergarten, who are experienced in designing, coding and maintaining a wide range of e-commerce systems have developed and built the interactive platform. The hope is that small independent food retailers will be able to sell online in order to sustain their cash flow and revenue during the COVID-19 crisis in the face of intense competition from supermarket click and collect/delivery services.

Many small independent retailers have been allowed to keep their physical shops open, whilst others have started offering online delivery services to enable them to continue trading during these challenging times.

The UK food retail market has seen transformational shifts over the past decade but the recent pandemic has brought online shopping into greater focus.

One in five British households bought groceries online in May 2020, increasing sales for home delivery by 91%, while small independent stores rang up 69% more sales in the three months to 20 June, according to the latest market data from retail analysts Kantar.

Siop.io gives the consumer access to local businesses selling food, drink, and soon, ready meals and takeaways with businesses ranging from butchers, bakers, delis, fruit and vegetable shops.

Local community customers are able to enter their home postcode into the website to see a list of local independent retailers that cover their area with Siop.io handling all the hosting, transactions and payments for the businesses. Customers can choose who to shop with and add items to their online shopping bag before registering to pay and selecting a delivery or collection option.

Commenting about the decision to develop an e-commerce site Paul Sandham of Kodergarten says,

“As we all began hunkering down during the first lockdown in March 2020 it was clear to us that our local independent food retailers in north west Wales didn’t have much to sign up for if they wanted to move their business online. There are all sorts of apps and sites that appeared to list individual businesses, but nothing to support independent food businesses and their local customer base to actually buy anything online and support the fulfilment of the order for both business and the customer.

“We wanted place and location to be at the core of what we developed. Where you live helps to determine which business you can buy from. It’s meant to help your local baker, deli, butcher to sell and deliver produce to their customers in the nearby village.

“It is crucial that small independent retailers have an e-commerce facility to generate revenue, but we knew that we had to make it easy for small independents to sign up to and use and of course it needed to be bilingual.

“It’s been more than eight months since we started work building siop.io and we are excited to have recently launched the platform with the assistance and support of Menter Mon. Small steps first, there is much more for us to learn during the pilot, but we’re really excited and confident that siop.io will make a difference to local independent food businesses and to consumers.”

During the first lockdown, Kodergarten worked in partnership with Menter Môn who commissioned research to find out what it takes to help local food businesses during these difficult times. The research showed that the pandemic had caused people to shop more online, and so wanted to test how effective selling online to local food businesses would be.

Dafydd Gruffydd, Managing Director of Menter Mon explained,

“Menter Mon has been at the forefront of our efforts to help individuals, communities and businesses adapt during the pandemic. We are pleased to be able to support businesses in Anglesey and Gwynedd to register and use shop.io. It is a golden opportunity for independent food and drink businesses to be able to respond positively to the challenges they face during the lockdown period as well as into the future, and also a resource for customers to shop locally supporting the local economy”.

Menter Môn is a community initiative operating across North Wales to deliver various regeneration, environmental and cultural projects for the benefit of local communities. This project was supported by the Welsh Government's Rural Communities Programme – the Rural Development Programme for Wales 2014-2020, funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. It is also part funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Gwynedd Council and the Isle of Anglesey Charitable Trust.

Becws Islyn Bakery, a small bakery in the village of Aberdaron is one retailer registered with siop.io. Gillian Jones, owner of Becws Islyn Bakery said,

“Having experienced decreased local footfall due to the lockdown back in March last year we had to close our bakery and cafe. My husband Geraint and I decided that we would adapt and focus our business on our local customers in the Llyn Peninsula area who were having to shield. We initially did all the paperwork from taking orders, processing payments to delivery of the products, whilst still baking. The support from so many of our customers was amazing and appreciated but we never anticipated that we would have 200 customers.

“That’s when we had a conversation with Menter Mon who explained about this new e-commerce website and we wanted to be involved. It helps take away a lot of the paperwork for us to concentrate on the baking and shop side of the business. The bakery is now back open, after having had to adapt the layout and we are seeing increased footfall with our locals again.”

The Kodergarten team has worked for nearly 20 years with one of the UK’s leading booksellers to create e-commerce software that enabled products to be sold to millions of customers in the UK, EU and the rest of the world.

The Welsh Government’s Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said:

“At this difficult time it’s great to see Welsh businesses come together to do something collectively for our communities by creating an e-commerce platform, allowing customers to go online and buy directly from our small independent retailers.

“It has been an incredibly tough few months for businesses, and I’m sure siop-io will provide independent retailers in the north west of Wales with a much-needed boost as we go into 2021.”

If you are a local independent food and drinks retailer in the north west Wales area and would like to increase your customer base or you are someone living in the region looking to support your local businesses online visit https://siop.io/