February 2024

Five Reasons to Celebrate Local Businesses

Explore how shopping local makes a big difference during the festive season

Small local businesses play a vital role in building and strengthening local communities. With so many benefits to embracing localism, let’s consider how shopping local can make a difference for everyone during the festive season.  

As consumers needed to stay home in the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, perspectives began to shift to a more local way of life. Suddenly everyone was seeing their neighbours more, relying more on local businesses, and feeling relief when their favourite shops  began to reopen.  

According to Deloitte research taken in Britain, not a lot has changed when it comes to shopping locally and valuing the local owned businesses.

All of this has shown us that local businesses are about more than physical goods and services; they create connection and support communities. This emotional component is an important advantage small and medium businesses have over major retailers and global brands. It’s also the key to why shoppers feel good about buying locally. In our Nexi/Nets Ecommerce Report Europe 2022, we found that 92% of European shoppers understand the advantages of buying from a local shop. 

Building local communities   

Small local businesses are the backbone of communities of all sizes. They provide jobs, generate tax revenue, and support local projects and initiatives. But more than that, small businesses help to build and strengthen communities by creating a sense of place and belonging.  

This sense of belonging can play an important role in creating community cohesion and social capital. Building community can be especially important in less populated areas, where people may not have as many opportunities to socialize. Small businesses can host events, such as storytimes for children or coffee groups for adults, where people can come together and chat 

Simply by existing and creating a welcoming environment, many small businesses provide spaces where people can gather and get to know their neighbours. This can help to build trust and cooperation, creating a stronger sense of community while also creating customer loyalty and brand advocacy among regular patrons.  

Strengthening the local economy to promote future growth   

When consumers shop at a small retail business, they know that they’re not just supporting the owner, employees, and their families, they’re also supporting the greater community. By shopping locally, their money stays in the community, recirculating and supporting other local businesses. This helps create a more vibrant and sustainable economy.  

Small businesses are often a major source of jobs in many communities. Research from Destatis, uncovers interesting fact regarding people working in small and medium businesses. These businesses provide opportunities for people of all skill levels and experience, and they greatly help to reduce unemployment and poverty. 


Adding character to cities and towns 

Small businesses also contribute to the character of a community. As mentioned above, local shops can also be places where people   socialize, celebrate, and feel more connected. This support creates a sense of pride in community and can include people of all ages and backgrounds. Every small business has the opportunity to help shape  the personality and unique charm of the neighbourhood and create a sense of identity for the people who live there. This adds heritage and culture to a community, helping attract tourists as well, which we’ll get into more below.  

Making priceless memories for neighbours and visitors  

Imagine a small town where everyone knows their neighbours and the local economy is thriving. You see a charming main street lined with independent shops and restaurants. The owners of these businesses are active members of the community, volunteering their time and donating to local charities. 

When you walk through this town, you feel a sense of welcome and belonging. You can shop for unique gifts at one-of-a-kind boutiques, enjoy a delicious meal at one of the neighbourhood restaurants, pick up something new to read at a little independent bookshop, and catch up with friends at a cafe.. You know that your money is staying in the community and supporting your neighbours. 

This is the power of small local businesses. Memories and personal experiences, like the example provided above, add greater value to shoppers than large retailers ever could. As small businesses help communities to feel connected and supported, the community and all who visit will be far more likely to return that support and tell others.  

We call this power priceless, but if we were to put it to numbers, here’s what Statista forecasting data had to say: “The overall value added of small-sized enterprises operating in the non-financial business economy of Germany amounted to over 353.9 billion Euro in 2023, compared with 168.8 billion Euro for Italian enterprises, and 152.72 billion for French ones.”

Success Story:

Michael Atug

CEO, MAW Werkzeuge GmbH

How to win over the local market as a local seller

In our globalized world, it has become absolutely normal to get tomatoes from Spain, clothes from Bangladesh and wood for the cupboard from Poland. While sometimes these supply chains are necessary for certain products, another trend is slowly forming. Local sourcing gets more and more attention these days. If you look at the many advantages, you realize why that is the case. One company that focuses on the spatial proximity of their customers is MAW Werkzeuge GmbH with Michael Atug as their CEO and mymaw.de as their online shop. 

Michael Atug is well known in this field. Through his onlineshop, he sells tools, machinery and various industrial equipment to electricians, roofers, carpenters and plumbers. Despite the B2B focus, there are also many private customers, who take advantage of the product range. The website is only available in German. Atug doesn’t feel the need to translate it yet. It works fine without, because the website users can simply use Google as a translation tool or they can search for the product information somewhere else on the internet. Oftentimes that is not even necessary since most of the products are self-explanatory. Nevertheless, customer service and support are a top priority for him. That is the only way to convert new customers into returning ones and he gets good customer reviews. 

 Important local aspects 

The local aspect is also apparent in the purchasing process. Direct pickup of the products is possible – including in-person payment with various options to choose from. Atug’s store is located in Wipperfürth, in the middle of North Rhine Westphalia, and thus close to the most important industrial area of Germany, the Ruhrgebiet. The location has only advantages. His Click&Collect offer is well received and provides Atug and his customers even more benefits. Assistance can be offered directly on site and the products can be explained easily.

Having the products picked up also presents the opportunity of cross-selling: while talking with the customer, he can become interested in other items, which, best case scenario, he’ll purchase on the spot. Click&Collect is very popular and, therefore, reflects customer wishes: they want to buy quality products without lengthy supply chains and an impersonal conclusion of the purchase, but instead with direct contact to a local seller. 

Events for the region 

Michael Atug is well connected – not only in Wipperfürth, but throughout the whole DACH region. Retailers know him and he knows most of them. He regularly organizes events for them. For example, he created the MultichannelDay, which takes place every year in Cologne’s stadium. 2023 was already its seventh run with almost 2,000 participants. Many enthusiastic retailers use the event to network with other retailers and service providers and to forge partnerships. 

The advantages of local sourcing 

Local trade remains important despite global sourcing: according to a study conducted by the Initiative Digitale Handelskommunikation (IDH) in the first quarter of 2022, 92% of respondents consider it important or very important to have stationary, local stores in addition to online retail.  

Rising logistics costs, local regulations and customer requirements regarding delivery times – global sourcing, which utilizes supply chains around the world, creates problems that can be circumvented by sourcing goods locally. Language plays an important role here, as it cannot become a barrier if a customer has queries about the product or needs to report problems. On the other hand, time is a relevant factor. Since the goods are already in Germany, delivery is naturally much faster and involves less logistical effort than if they have to be sent around the world. This is also accompanied by other costs that are lowered with local sourcing. Shipping costs, for example, simply make a big difference here. If large industrial machines no longer have to be shipped across the sea or by air, but only transported within Germany, this lowers the price for the buyer immensely.  

“Apart from long delivery times, high delivery costs, customs duties to be paid or complicated returns, which my customers avoid when they order from us online, it is probably also the personal contact and advice that speak for us,” says Michael Atug, and this is confirmed by the very good customer reviews on various rating portals. 

Atug’s assessment 

The focus of mymaw.de is on local business. Michael Atug knows what his customers want: Retailers, who serve the local market, shape the local area and the economy. This is exactly what customers want to support and are therefore happy to take up the offer of local sourcing.  

Atug himself likes to take things into his own hands and is known for this attribute in his network. He wants to promote (online) trade in Germany and thus strengthen the economy. For this, he gives it his all. 

Attracting tourists and neighbouring communities  

Small businesses can help to preserve the local culture and heritage of a community, helping to grow tourism while adding to the character and vibrancy of the area. They may sell traditional products or services, or they may host events and festivals that celebrate the community’s history and traditions.  

This goes hand-in-hand with the priceless memories and character described above. And when we add e-commerce to the mix, it means that small businesses have the opportunity to continue their sales well after any visitors leave the area and return home.  

Interview with:

Lorena Boljunčić

Director at Idea Istra d.o.o.

1. Can you share the story behind your e-commerce business and how it’s connected to the local tourism industry?

The immense significance of e-commerce business is best understood by the generation that grew up at the end of the last century, which happens to be my generation as well. When I narrate to my children how we used to buy or gather information about products and services in the past, it seems almost unreal.

No matter what product you wanted to buy, you had to inquire a lot, seek recommendations, search for information via landline phones, and after all that, drive to Zagreb or Trieste to make the purchase. The same applied to tourism – you needed intermediaries, agencies that were the only source of information about the destination, hotels, and tourist services.

And then the Internet changed everything. Information is instantly available to everyone; all preparations can be done from the comfort of your own home: buy plane tickets, book accommodation, choose a car rental service, reserve a city tour.

If you want to visit an interesting attraction, like the House of Istrian Olive Oil, you’ll definitely buy tickets in advance, not wanting to wait in line or risk them being sold out. Whether you’re going to a concert, visiting a museum, wanting a boat ride, renting a paddleboard, or booking an excursion – you just choose the attraction and proceed to purchase.

2. What inspired you to start an e-commerce store, and how has it impacted your ability to reach customers beyond the local area?

The House of Istrian Olive Oil in Pula, Croatia combines several interesting elements. There’s a museum exhibition that tells the history and present of Istrian olive growing. Through guided tastings, we introduce guests to Istrian oils, educate them about what quality olive oil really is, and how to recognize and use it. In the sales area, we offer various local products such as extra virgin olive oils, truffles, Istrian wines, homemade brandies, natural cosmetics from Istria, and many other local delicacies.

Our customers come from all over the world. In the first two years alone, guests from over 50 countries, from all continents, have visited us. They all return home full of impressions. With us, they’ve tasted some of the best olive oils in the world. And when they return to their countries, they still want to use them and experience a part of Istria again. Through e-commerce, all they have to do is visit our site www.oleumhistriae.com , choose a product, and within a week, it is delivered to their doorstep.

3.Tell us about the unique products or services you offer through your e-commerce platform that are related to your local community’s culture and heritage.

Olive growing has existed in Istria for over 2000 years, since the Roman era. Roman writers such as Pliny the Elder and Martial wrote about Istrian oil as one of the best in the Roman Empire. Today, Istrian olive growers receive prestigious awards at numerous international competitions.

This story was worth telling and showing guests a part of our rich and important tradition. Through e-commerce, guests purchase tickets for three types of tours we offer: Green, Gold, and Platinum Experience. Each of these tours includes a museum visit and a guided tasting of extra virgin olive oil. Over 500 reviews with an excellent rating attest that we have presented our cultural history in the best possible way.

4. How do you integrate your e-commerce business with the events and festivals celebrating your community’s history and traditions?

Various events are part of our offering. Business gatherings, birthday celebrations, informal meetings. How to convey the atmosphere of the experience in the museum space? Instead of relying on traditional marketing methods such as print ads, we use a range of modern tools that impressively showcase our offerings to potential customers. We use these tools to direct customers to our e-commerce platform, including search engine marketing, organic and paid advertising, and a presence on social media.

5. What role does your e-commerce store play in preserving and promoting the local culture and heritage when tourists return home?

E-commerce provides the best opportunities for customers who want to use products they encountered on their journey again. E-commerce is global, simple, and accessible at any time. By purchasing Istrian products from the comfort of their homes, after getting to know the destination and its beauties, our mission is complete and fulfilling.

Initiatives supporting local businesses this holiday season 

Many countries, cities, and towns create events for local businesses during the festive season  in order to promote the support of the local economy and all who live in and around the community.  

One major example from  Britain is Small Business Saturday UK. It’s a non-commercial campaign with a grassroots type of promotion in which  consumers are encouraged to ‘shop local’ and contribute to the success of small businesses in their neighbourhoods. As an event, this is scheduled annually on the first Saturday in December, with a goal to continue the momentum of local shopping habits while introducing shoppers to more local shops  that  they may not have visited before.  

If you’re in the UK and looking for local holiday shopping options, we suggest visiting Creative Boom for their list of 55 featured local shops participating in Small Business Saturday.  

You can get a better sense of  Small Business Saturday UK directly from British shopkeepers in their own words by watching these quick videos from Visa.

Overall, it’s clear that  small local businesses play a vital role in building and strengthening local communities. They provide jobs, generate tax revenue, and support local charities, and all of these benefits have become more important to consumers in recent years. But more than that, local businesses create a sense of belonging that helps to make communities stronger and more vibrant.