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Toronto Launches Digital Main Street Platform to Help Retailers Go Digital

Update On :14 June 2016

Toronto Launches Digital Main Street Platform to Help Retailers Go Digital

The City of Toronto launched an initiative Monday aimed at helping the city’s small businesses make the switch from bricks to clicks.

The Digital Main Street platform helps connect local bricks and mortar businesses with digital tools and strategies. It is the city’s solution to a “real lack of adoption for main street businesses when it comes to technology,” said Chris Rickett, manager of entrepreneurship services with the City.

“This will be the first of its kind globally and we’ve had other municipal jurisdictions calling us going ‘how can we leverage this?’ because they’re all facing the same challenge.”

The service is designed to address a disconnect between consumer behaviours — as they increasingly move online — and the web presence of local retailers.

While 36 cents out of every dollar spent are influenced by digital shopping, only 41 per cent of Canadian small businesses are online. “It’s really the Main Streets that are the background of our city and if the health of those Main Streets starts to go down our neighborhoods suffer,” Rickett said.

The support service, a global first for retailers, is a public-private partnership between the City, local business improvement associations and big companies including Rogers, Shopify, MasterCard, Yellow Pages and Google. The service is funded by the corporate partners and free for small businesses, who also get discounted services from partners.

It includes a web portal where businesses can assess their digital readiness and create a plan for digital adoption, a digital service squad from George Brown College that will visit stores to train and offer advice as well as a lab for experimentation and workshops, training and access to big data.

“This is a necessary step forward for the city and for your business and if we do this right, there will be more jobs more sales more profits and success,” said Toronto mayor John Tory. “This is a program meant to help people over that hurdle that sometimes scares people.”

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