When Spendindie launched in the middle of 2017, the online marketplace set out to focus exclusively on independent and local businesses—in other words, to keep consumers' money in their communities.
Similar to Amazon and Etsy, the online marketplace features businesses from across the country, and rewards shoppers for discovering and promoting their favorite local finds. The platform even enables consumers to shop by cause if a topic is especially close to heart.
"Our mobile app, website, social media channels and team of 'shop local' contributors from around the country help independent and local shops compete with big retailers by giving them more of a voice against the billion-dollar marketing budgets of major corporations," Thad Beversdorf, CEO of Spendindie, told FierceRetail. "Plus, joining Spendindie is risk-free for merchants. There’s no listing or subscription fee, no minimum number of orders required, and sellers can leave the marketplace at any time without penalty."
As with many marketplaces, Beversdorf cites logistics as the company's No. 1 challenge. However, the company has built out a fulfillment center and is proud to offer free fulfillment services to its merchants.
"This creates a lot of reliability and takes the burden off of our business owners so they can focus on their business rather than logistics and technology," he said.
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Spendindie offers customers the ability to support causes they care about, but also with the added value of convenience. According to Beversdorf, 82% of shoppers say they want to spend more with local and independent businesses, but that often takes too much effort.
"We are making local as convenient as the big-box stores," he said.
Beversdorf knows the value of customer loyalty in 2018 and foresees it continuing to be a major factor in successful businesses. That is why Spendindie offers a “Get Paid” program.
"The idea hit me when I was struggling to understand how small and independent businesses could compete with a $17 billion marketing budget of the P&Gs of the world," Beversdorf said. "I was looking at some online social media sites and thought, 'Wow! here are all these people discovering cool products and posting them to this site. By posting product pictures, people are generating huge value creation for the site but are not getting paid for any of that value creation. Why? Why shouldn’t I pay someone for creating monetary value?'"
From there, Beversdorf realized that he could compete with the big markets by incentivizing customers and engaging them in a movement they already believe in.
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"It’s a new economic ecosystem. People can supplement their income by helping us build out a marketplace that, in the end, exists to serve their own economic well-being. It makes perfect sense. And who better than everyday people to discover the coolest products from every nook and cranny across America’s main streets?" he said.
Beversdorf noted that partner merchants also play a large role in loyalty. Keeping independent businesses on board is key to the marketplace's success.
"That’s why we offer merchants a risk-free platform to list their products for shoppers who are looking for local and indie options," he added.