One Year of Celebrating Small Business
We created a modern ecommerce solution to help small businesses and communities survive and thrive
We saw our Shop Local Mobile Marketplace as the future of small business but could not have imagined the impact it would have during the global pandemic.
It is with mixed emotions that we celebrate the one-year anniversary of Beyond Main. It is hard to believe that it was just one year ago that our new shop local online marketplace, Beyond Main, launched. We are so proud of how far we have come but in reflecting back on this past year, we couldn’t have imagined that we would become a lifeline for small business during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the anniversary of our launch, we asked ourselves, how should we celebrate this milestone amidst everything going on? How do we show our appreciation for all the businesses and shoppers that took a chance on us in our earliest phases? How do we thank the communities that have welcomed us into their towns and cities? The answer was clear. The answer was easy. We will give back, of course.
For those that are not familiar, Beyond Main is a shop local online marketplace that helps retailers and small business manage, sell, and market their business online in an affordable and simple way. The inspiration for Beyond Main came from hearing countless grievances from retailers that were losing out to the big e-commerce giants like Amazon, Walmart, Target and others.
At the time, we knew that there had to be a way to give these businesses a fighting chance to not only survive in the mobile era, but to thrive. And we knew that without a small business online marketplace solution, the future for small business looked grim.
It took almost a year of development and beta testing before we were ready to onboard retailers and shoppers. We hit the streets of our hometown in Summit, NJ and convinced a handful of fearless and fabulous shops to join us in our mission to make shopping local more convenient. Once we had built a community offering, we decided it was time to introduce ourselves to the world.
In May of 2019, we began outreach within our beloved hometown. We hosted events, stood on street corners, passed out flyers, blitzed social media, raffled off giveaways, made t-shirts and signs, and talked to anyone who would listen about this magical new platform we had created. We even showcased Beyond Main at the local farmers market at 6:00 am during a freak 30-degree spring day with torrential downpours. All in the name of our small business partners and website. It was exhausting but exhilarating at the same time!
No one can say we didn’t try in those first few weeks. But very few can say they even noticed us. In the end we fell short of our goals, but we were energized by the process. The weeks turned into months. We tested all different types of outreach and approaches while constantly improving our technology and operations. We saw slow but steady growth by shoppers and retailers alike. Often it felt slow more than steady, but still we forged on, allowing our mission and vision to carry us.
As we moved through the holiday season we began to hear from more happy customers and businesses, thankful to have been connected with each other via Beyond Main. Small wins, but it continued to fill us with pride. This once crazy idea of creating a new community operating system that could better connect customers and businesses had finally come to life. It was not just an idea sketched out in notes any longer. It was real, and functioning (mostly) as we had intended it to!
Fast forward to March of 2020 and suddenly the focus across the globe was on COVID-19 and what needed to be done to combat the virus. Terms like social distancing and flattening the curve were introduced, disinfectant and toilet paper were sold out everywhere, and we all began preparing for quarantine. Stay at home orders spread across the country and in the blink of an eye, small businesses were left without a sales channel that would accommodate this new world. Like everyone else across the country, we kept thinking, “is this really happening?”
Suddenly, our shop local mobile site became a lifeline for communities across the country. Since the pandemic started, our inboxes have been full of countless inquiries from retailers and community leaders looking for solutions to move their businesses online. Beyond Main is no longer a nice to have, it is a must have. We jumped into action to help as best we could. We made enhancements and improvements to our technology to accommodate more merchants, communities, groups, and ensured our automation would support small business Covid response needs.
Whether it is bringing a store front online, offering safe curbside pick-up or local delivery options to consumers, Beyond Main has been able to help businesses quickly and affordably pivot to a new business model. While we are still amid this pandemic, a much-needed spotlight has been cast on small business and how vital they are to the fabric of our communities. Something we have known all along and are working tirelessly to create the foundation for a sustainable future.
As we cross our one-year milestone, the shop local marketplace has seen a 470% increase. Purchases are trending up by 364% month over month and the gratitude we have received from retailers and townships alike is heartwarming. But what we are most thankful for is knowing that this platform is laying the foundation for small businesses and communities to survive and thrive in the age of modern retail.
We could not have imagined that it would take a global pandemic for folks to adopt our shop local online concept. To say that this is not the way we would have wanted it, would some how imply that this was even on our radar, which it wasn’t. With acts of bravery and heroism displayed every day through this pandemic, we are humbled to be able to have made our contribution during these uncertain times.
Coming full circle, in recognition of our one year anniversary instead of giveaways or contests, we are making a donation to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund (NJPRF) on behalf of each of our shoppers and retail partners. The NJPRF exists to meet four critical challenges of our state in the face of the COVID-19 crisis: stop the spread, support the healthcare community, provide help for the vulnerable, and rebuild our communities.
We are looking forward to working harder than ever to support small business and communities everywhere as we embark on year two. If we are not in your town yet, we invite you to reach out! We’d love to show you what the future of small business looks like with Beyond Main.
Stay safe, stay healthy and shop local
All the best,
The Team at Beyond Main