Shoppers who are flocking to the new ClicknConnect.shop online marketplace are part of an identified consumer trend which has come to the fore during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its 2021 Australian retail outlook, KPMG reported that e-commerce reached 12.9 per cent of total retail turnover for the 12 months to October 2020, five years ahead of earlier growth predictions. At the same time, there was an uptick in consumers wanting to support local businesses and ensure goods were produced ethically and sustainably, with reliable certification.
ACM, publisher of this website, launched ClicknConnect as a "discovery" destination to help shoppers find Australian businesses offering niche products and bespoke creations.
The ClicknConnect.shop website carries listings from retailers and service providers trading online. Shoppers can search by category or location, and then click through to the business's website to finalise their purchase.
More than 100 businesses are already on the site, with more being added every week.
Among them are businesses like Ploughman's Hill Olives, owned by Shirley and Peter Michalk and run from their farm near Parkes, NSW.
The couple planted their first olive trees about 26 years ago. They had no idea whether they would thrive but figured they would provide some shelter for the sheep if nothing else. These days, they are producing 100 per cent Australian, certified extra virgin olive oil, pickled olives and oil-based skincare products - and shipping to customers all over the country.
The oils are pressed at towns in the Central West of NSW and, while the soaps, shampoos and moisturisers are made in Sydney (to exclusive recipes), the infused oils and the pickled olives are all Peter's handiwork, on-farm. It is very much a family affair, with their daughter-in-law helping out with social media promotion.
$500 shopping vouchers to win
Shoppers who register as they log on to the ClicknConnect.shop website will go in a draw to win one of five vouchers, each worth $500 to spend at the ClicknConnect business of their choice. Entries for the voucher giveaway close at 11.59pm AEST on Wednesday, November 17, 2021. The winners will be announced on November 18 and notified by email and phone on the same day.
The Michalks' experience is typical of many small businesses in Australia who have ramped up their online presence during the pandemic.
"We were going to farmers' markets, doing about five a month, before COVID," Shirley said.
When business slowed due to lockdown restrictions, the couple reviewed their e-commerce model, redesigned their website and trade has started building again. The online growth has coincided with their listing on ClicknConnect.shop. Their local ACM sales contact, Jo Simpson, suggested the site to them.
Shirley, who admits to not doing much online shopping herself, says she is yet to track exactly where orders are originating, but she's happy with the result regardless.
KPMG's Australian retail outlook found that 70 per cent of businesses recognised that consumers wanted to deal with them online and 42 per cent recorded a significant increase in online revenue in 2020.
ACM's chief revenue officer Sharon Fitter said the ClicknConnect concept was in keeping with ACM's goal to help communities stay "strong, informed and connected". The media business has a national footprint of websites and newspapers and an audience of 6.4 million people a month.
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"We want to help our customers grow their business and we can use the power of the ACM national network to make that happen," Ms Fitter said.
Businesses can join the ClicknConnect site by getting in touch with the sales team at their local ACM newspaper. ACM is Australia's biggest independent news brand serving suburban, regional and rural communities.