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Toronto to launch ‘digital main street’ to help hard-hit businesses

Toronto to launch digital main street
Allan Baxter/Getty Images

Aimed to help small companies and artists move their businesses online through the COVID-19 pandemic, a new service called DMS ShopHERE powered by the Schulich School of Business in Toronto is going to be launched sooner.

This step will provide small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with aid in establishing online stores within days, setting up eCommerce payment channels for eCommerce and activating the stores on several digital marketing platforms.

Toronto Mayor John Howard Tory said, on May 11, “The “ShopHERE” program will enlist volunteer web developers and marketers to help small businesses and artists set up online stores and we are committed to performing every possible thing through our ability to help our main street small businesses get through this crisis,” he said at the city’s daily briefing on the pandemic”.

The motto of the program is to develop 3,000 online stores for independent businesses and artists in the city, said the Mayor.

Since Covid 19 affects small businesses hard, many SMB owners get unsure whether they’ll be able to make it through the crisis due to social distancing restrictions and people’s general aversion to going out in public.

“It will help ensure our Main Streets survive this crisis and that the culture and lively streets we all enjoy – and the jobs – will be there when we move into the recovery period,” assured Tory.

A team of 50 students from Schulich’s MBA, Master’s and undergraduate programs worked on the service, which will be integrated with Canada’s Digital Main Street program as well as common digital retailers like Shopify, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, eBay and Mastercard Canada, reports PYMNTS.

With the number of eligible businesses far exceeding the program’s current capacity, Tory issued a challenge to more tech businesses in the city to contribute to the program on a volunteer basis.

Besides, ShopHERE will be delivered via the Digital Main Street platform, which was created several years ago by TABIA and the city to help local businesses learn about and embrace digital change.

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