The need for an online presence has become clear to many businesses in Halifax during COVID-19, as many signed up for the ShopHERE program delivered by Halifax Partnership.
“From a pandemic perspective, we, as the economic development organization, try to support our small businesses and this is a way we’re helping them sell online during a challenging time,” said Nancy Phillips, the vice-president of investment and trade at Halifax Partnership.
She said more than 20 businesses have joined ShopHERE since it launched in October. These are companies that have fewer than 25 employees and are selling or manufacturing “ready and quickly scalable” inventory of products.
“Smaller companies benefit the most,” Phillips said. “Some have really embraced and are trying to get their product to market and into other venues.”
The ShopHERE program will be offered at no cost to 80 to 100 companies. Participating businesses will be matched with a ShopHERE student helper who will build and customize their online store.
The president and CEO of Halifax Partnership, Wendy Luther, said in a media release during the launch that the program helps small businesses increase their digital presence by enabling businesses to sell online and receive training and one-on-one support on digital marketing, shipping and managing inventory.
Rimot Inc., a Dartmouth-based technology company, is the first business in Halifax to go online using the ShopHERE program.
The company has built cloud-based software to monitor infrastructure used by first responders. The channel sales manager, Akin Guler, said the company’s latest automated, contactless, “plug-and-play” product RimotHEALTH to screen viruses at workplaces can now be bought online.
Guler said the program is helping the company sell its products faster and outside of Nova Scotia, where they expect to have a bigger customer base.
“Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta — all other provinces have cases bigger than Nova Scotia for COVID-19,” Guler said. “Those people feel the threat more. And we believe we have a bigger market there compared to Nova Scotia and so our online business is very useful.”