Businesses throughout Greater Shepparton are beginning to pivot their business to online and e-commerce activity, after successfully applying for funding under Greater Shepparton City Council’s COVID-19 Quick Response Grants.
The grant was introduced as part of Council’s Stage 1 Economic Response to COVID-19 Package, and attempts to assist small-to-medium sized businesses transition online, with funding of up to $3,000.
Due to physical distancing and isolation restrictions, local businesses have had to think outside the box to continue to operate.
Riverside Gardens, Stellar Coffee and GB Coffee are examples of the more than 20 local businesses that have already applied for and obtained funding. A wide range of business is represented in the successful applications, including cafés, restaurants, retail, professional services and more.
Murray Smith, manager at Riverside Gardens, said their funding will be used to completely update their website.
“With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic we quickly realised that our website was inflexible and outdated, and didn’t allow us to keep our customers up to date with the changes we were trying to implement to allow us to keep trading,” he said.
“Council’s Quick Response Grant has allowed us to address this problem during a time of economic uncertainty; a time when we would not have been investing in a new website, and it will bring our business website to where we need it to be.”
Stellar owner, Matt Kington, said the café’s Quick Response Grant will be put towards a raft of online developments.
“Our grant will be put towards building a website for Stellar to create online traffic and also some social media and google upgrades,” he said.
“We are also looking at installing a tablet and working with an app partner that will allow people to order and pay for their coffee before they arrive, which will help us save time and limit the amount of people in-store at one time.
“Having a website and allowing people to contact us, see products and buy online is another opening to drive sales. In future we would also like to explore catering, and having an online presence will be a big help here.
“Many people visiting the area will search for coffee shops and places to eat online, so a professional website will allow tourists to see what we do and what we offer.”
Mark Shadbolt, owner at GB Coffee, said they would be using the funding to make long-term plans a reality.
“We will use the grant to develop a new website with an online store included,” Mr Shadbolt said.
“We had been thinking about doing this before the world was turned upside down, but with reduced turnover we could not commit funds to do the work.
“It will really help us as we already have a number of locals and visitors to the Goulburn Valley who ring us about buying our coffee, and we want to make it easier for them as well as simpler and more time efficient for our staff.
“With the new website and online store, we have plans to add new products compatible with our current range, as well as have more special offerings. We think we can grow this part of the business to more than compensate for loss of instore sales.”
At Riverside Gardens, Mr Smith said he found the application process straight forward and user-friendly.
“Because we had a genuine need for the grant, we had no problem meeting all the criteria and answering all the questions required,” Mr Smith said.
“The grant will bring our website into the 21st century. It will give us a flexible platform which we can adapt to meet the changing requirements of our business and it will also enable us to operate an online selling platform which we intend to move towards in the near future.”
The total pool of grant funds is $120,000 and Council will support projects until all funds in the pool have been expended or until 1 August 2020, whichever occurs sooner.
If you are interested in applying for a Quick Response Grant, please click here.
Council is assessing applications daily to ensure we are able to communicate to applicants as quickly as possible.