Starting out with a social enterprise, #GoKindly, Co-Founder Laura Conti understood that Australians were keen to support small businesses in a time of crisis.
“When the first COVID shutdowns happened in late March 2020, we realised that lots of people wanted to support high-quality Australian brands, but couldn’t find them easily,” she said. “We noticed that when we shared brands with our network, they were quick to buy something to help high quality, small brands survive – but it wasn’t easy for people to search for them.”
From there, she and her Co-Founder, David Conti, created a blog to encourage the promotion of small and micro brands. From there, the couple went on to profile the local retailers into the #GoKindly network.
“When it started getting more than 200 hits a day, we realised it needed its own platform and business,” Conti said. “We then moved it onto its own website and e-commerce store, and we have over 400 brands listed on our store. We have 400 micro brands, all Australian owned, across a wide spectrum of consumable products.”
Unlike many traditional marketplaces and e-commerce platforms, iLoveAustralian focusses on micro and small, local retailers across the country.
“All our brands are micro or small, they turnover under $5 million,” she told Power Retail. “We are about the high quality, micro and small brands which are Australian owned. We know that Australians are an entrepreneurial, creative bunch – and we want to help great small/micro brands be found and survive this difficult time. Right now we’re a free service to all brands, and we plan to stay that way until COVID is over.”
While monetisation is important for all businesses for success and longevity, the core focus for this platform is to give back to the community. “It’s important to us that we are useful, and giving back at this time, we’ll worry about monetising later when the time is right,” Conti explained.
The majority of retailers across Australia, especially in Victoria, have undergone radical changes to help adapt to the current crises. Fortunately, Conti understands the power that these hard times have on Australian businesses and brands.
“iLoveAustralian was born from this crisis,” she said. “We’re amazed at how resourceful and creative Australians are during a crisis. We’re proud that we’ve built something useful and generous out of what is a really crappy time.”
It’s no secret that Australia has come a long way within the e-commerce framework, but still has a long way to go. During the pandemic, the forced closure of stores accelerated the growth of online retail, but as it grows exponentially, there’s the risk of leaving some retailers behind.
“Sadly, not enough of the traditional retailers have moved fast enough into e-commerce, and it’s now going to bite them,” Conti said.
“Our micro and small brands know how important e-commerce sales and service is, and we’re proud to be supporting them to survive this crisis. The reality is that consumers are busy, and they go to the big-brand retailers in physical stores because its easy to get everything in one place. Now that e-commerce is ‘the normal’ and small players can move faster than big players, consumer behaviour will change, I believe they’ll stick with the little players and our micro and small brands will thrive.”
Furthermore, Conti believes that the ecosystem around micro-e-commerce brands is moving at a rapid rate. “For example, Australia Post deliveries are improving in quality, price and timeliness, so that’s helping e-commerce momentum too,” she said.
During a crisis, there is always an opportunity for growth. For iLoveAustralian, it’s all about helping shoppers find smaller brands without having to search high and low.
“It’s a busy world, everyone is juggling a lot, and we often don’t have time to research to find smaller brands,” Conti said. “I believe that everyone wants our small and micro brands to thrive, but they want it to be easier to find them. The challenge is for smaller players to build market awareness while the big players are busy trying to stand up e-commerce stores. Anything we can do to raise the profile of small brands will sustain a creative, innovative small business ecosystem.”
For smaller retailers, there are often big costs associated with e-commerce, including last-mile delivery. “Postage and freight is a big cost to small brands,” Conti said.
“I’d like to see Australia Post and smaller freight providers offering bigger incentives to small and micro brands to enable them to be more profitable. Potentially, even government incentives to freight companies to support small/microbrands with postage and delivery costs. Often freight costs more than the consumable goods, which is a tough reality for small brands.”
In recent months, Australian retailers have become more popular as borders close and supply chains become strained. iLoveAustralian is passionate about supporting small, local retailers to ensure a more ethical supply chain.
“In reality, it isn’t possible right now for everything to be Australian made, however it would be great if we saw a resurgence in Australian manufacturing, and Australians being passionate about paying fair (and that often means higher) prices for locally made, sourced and owned goods,” she said.
While Australia continues to battle the pandemic, iLoveAustralian keeps its eye out for ‘high quality, exciting local brands’.
“We do collaborations with influencers to raise awareness of brands, so looking forward to the next collaboration coming up,” Conti said. “We’re also keen for anyone to recommend lovely new local brands to us, so send them our way.”
In these uncertain times, it’s important for Australian consumers and retailers to help support one another. “Let’s all get passionate about supporting high-quality local brands,” Conti explained.
“Behind those micro and small brands are families, women, passionate creators, and I love that Australians are so innovative.”
Introducing Talking Point, an exciting new series from Power Retail. Each month, we will cover a specific topic relevant to e-commerce. This month, we are showcasing and celebrating #Australian retailers. Watch out for this logo every month as we dive into new topics and investigate what it means to be an online retailer in Australia.
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