The Small Markets online platform, built in Urmston, launches today. Chris and Amy Monaghan have used their time at home during lockdown to produce and polish this virtual marketplace which they hope will provide a way for craft artisans, hard hit by the pandemic lockdown, to show their work to potential customers across the UK.
The genesis of the idea came from Amy’s desire to grow her own craft business and to support those of her friends who were all struggling due to the viral crisis resulting in the closure of most craft fairs and markets where they usually sell their work. Chris used his many years of experience of working in the design and web industry to construct the platform which allows users to display their wares with no listing fees: they are only charged when a sale is made.
With people cooped up indoors with time on their hands due to Coronavirus, the UK has seen a boom in sales of crafting materials with Hobbycraft reporting a 200% boom in online sales since the pandemic began and “exceptional levels of customer demand” with their online craft classes reaching over 15 million people. With all that human creativity out there the couple hopes that Small Markets has the potential to grow much bigger. Amy said:
“It’s been such a privilege to welcome talented makers to Small Market, and to watch it grow from a project with our friends to a viable and exciting new platform that people want to be involved with. I’ve always shared the love of the handmade with our friends and family, and now we have the ability to extend that so much further.”
The custom built Small Markets content management system provides a low cost and flexible alternative to many larger online sites and uses its own e-commerce platform, with the whole website having security accessibility and usability built in, said Chris. The initial plan was to build a much simpler website, but as work progressed Chris said it, “felt like it was going to have far more potential than the initial intention of the website build. I’m pleased that our skills can be used to support lots of small maker businesses, whilst selfishly giving me a great showcase of my own tech skills.”
Due to the platform being custom built and not relying on existing software, it allows the Small Markets team to take users input on board, which Chris said is already starting to shape new developments in the site aimed at improving the sales for the users with “amazing skills” that use the site.
The Small Markets platform will allow crafters and traders to access international, national and local markets. Chris and Amy hope that the marketplace will act as a conduit to strengthen the shop local movement and lead to “people really appreciating the skills of people within the community to help us all get through these uncertain times.”
Sign up to The Meteor mailing list – click here
Feature Image and in article images: Small Markets