Bira’s Neartoo Trading Platform For Indies Counts Down To Its Consumer Launch

Next month will mark the official consumer launch of Neartoo, a new online trading platform exclusively for independent retailers, including greeting card and gift indies, that has been created by Bira (the British Independent Retailers’ Association).

Above: More indies are signing up to Neartoo by the day.
Above: More indies are signing up to Neartoo by the day.

“The pandemic has accelerated shopping behaviours, with more use of the internet and people also shopping more locally,” commented Bira’s ceo Andrew Goodacre. “This platform, owned by independents, addresses both of those societal changes, and will allow these retailers to open up new ways of selling to customers, and more profitably.”

Among the first retailers to sign up were card and gift indies Loveone in Ipswich and Papyrus in Glasgow.

Above: Cathy Frost outside Loveone has joined the new trading platform.
Above: Cathy Frost outside Loveone has joined the new trading platform.

As Cathy Frost, owner of Loveone in Ipswich told PG Buzz: “I believe that anything that encourages and serves a community has to be for the greater good. And for that reason I had no hesitation in being one of the first to sign up to Neartoo.

Whatever can be done to help people engage with their local community or indeed enrich a visitor experience to a town, by making it easy for them to plan their trip and be excited by the independent shops, cafes and theatres, has to be encouraged.”

She believes that the ‘shop local’ message continuing to gain traction it offers more opportunities for indie retailers such as Loveone with Neartoo helping in this.

“I am always open to new ideas, as that is how progress happens – so I love the idea of tech helping to nurture the ‘feelgood’ of a real community, which is at the very essence of Neartoo,” adds Cathy.

Using Neartoo, shop owners are able to sync their existing online sales platform or create an ecommerce presence for the first time.

Above: Part of Papyrus’ profile page on Neartoo.
Above: Part of Papyrus’ profile page on Neartoo.

Sharing what attracted her to join Neartoo, Fiona Fabien, owner of Papyrus, the long established Glasgow-based card, gift and homewares shop said the fact that the platform is “specifically for independents” was the main appeal for her.

“We are building our online presence and since we are Bira members, and the Neartoo platform is compatible with our Shopify website, we felt it is a natural progression.

The transaction fees/commission are transparent and fair, so we feel the platform offers a reasonable return for sales achieved. Most of our Bira suppliers are suppliers for our Cookshop, so we are hoping to grow this side of the business. We are so looking forward to seeing Neartoo going live!”

Consumers can search via location, by product type as well as the end recipient, with greeting cards featuring alongside the likes of ‘gifts for her’, ‘personalised gifts’ within the gifts section on the platform.

Bira is now urging all independent retailers to sign up, regardless of whether they are members of the association, with Neartoo aiming to complement physical stores, helping independent retailers to move forward with a ‘hybrid’ model of retailing.

As Andrew Goodacre added: “This is a really exciting opportunity for indies throughout the UK to be able to start selling online or increase their own visibility. It will get their products out to a wider audience, and the fact so many of our members have already signed up and have seen the potential, is fantastic. This is the answer for thousands of indie stores across the UK to still maintain a bricks and mortar presence on the high street, while also allowing them to sell online but at a lower cost.”

For Bira members, the use of the platform is free for 12 months, while non-Bira members can receive five months free when they sign up.

The UK-wide platform will operate at significantly lower sales commission than its competitors, with time-saving benefits such as one-click product uploads.

Above: The technology of Neartoo allows for shoppers and participating retailers to instigate promotions and incentives.
Above: The technology of Neartoo allows for shoppers and participating retailers to instigate promotions and incentives.

Supporting consumer desires to shop locally, Neartoo benefits local communities, with retailers sharing individual profiles on the platform, enabling consumers to know who they are buying from and fostering personal relationships between shops and shoppers. There are also loyalty rewards for shoppers.


Top: Just some of the product categories included on the Neartoo platform.

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