Bourne is set to be a global pioneer as a project is launched to help independent traders fightback against retail giants.
Local businessmen Chris Caffyn and Simon Kaufman have launched HaveTheyGot.com to help keep shopping local by giving small businesses a stronger online presence and helping customers quickly and easily find the items they want.
Rather than ordering online and waiting days for delivery or having to drive miles to an out-of-town chain store, customers would instead visit the HaveTheyGot.com website, search for an item and find out straight away if it is in stock at a nearby local shop.
Research shows that many people prefer to buy locally if they can, because it avoids the inconvenience of waiting for deliveries; you can have your chosen items on the same day; you can see, touch or try on the products; and retailers can impart their expert knowledge face-to-face.
Chris, a former IT manager, said he believes the HaveTheyGot.com model is unique in the UK and possibly the world.
He said: “When people shop online these days they tend to search for the specific product or products they want – and results are biased towards the major retail brands.
“We know many people would prefer to buy locally, and to see the product in person before they commit to handing over their money. What HaveTheyGot.com will do is show customers where the product they want is in stock nearby.
“This is a first for the UK and, I’m fairly sure, for the world. Our vision is to make Bourne the first area in the UK where all local businesses are fully visible and searchable online.
“To achieve that we need local businesses to join us and enjoy the many benefits it will bring.”
HaveTheyGot.com will hook into each company’s stock inventories or electronic point of sale (EPOS) systems so up to date availability levels can be shown on the site. If traders do not currently have stock databases or spreadsheets, a low-cost stock management application can also be provided.
Businesses selected to take part in the initial trial will not be charged, but as the project takes off, there will be costs for them to pay. As well as independent shops, the site will also be open to tradespeople to promote their services.
Lincolnshire County Councillor Sue Woolley, who represents the Bourne Abbey ward, is supportive of the idea. She said: “It’s really simple, but with lots of very clever tech behind it. A local business supporting local traders to supply local residents. What could be better!”
An open evening for those interested in finding out more is to be held at Bourne Academy, on Thursday, November 10, at 6pm.
Guests will enjoy a curry and a drink while hearing about the system. To book a place, call 01778 218010.