Sometimes high-speed Internet is the thing that saves brick and mortar

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When you think of online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, most people think of the death of brick and mortar. Turns out this isn’t always the case, especially in rural regions where storefronts rely on online sales to succeed.

I read recently in a CBC article that eBay Canada selected Halifax as the first city to participate in it e-commerce training course, dubbed Retail Revival. The free 12-month course will be offered to up to 70 businesses. The federal government provided $60,000 in funding, and the provincial government provided $25,000.

The courses consist of in-person and classroom training, as well as one-on-one ongoing support, plus free listings on eBay (for a limited time).

In the article, a rural antiques dealer in Nova Scotia said that he “couldn’t survive” without his online market, where he’s made 31,000 sales equalling approximately $1.1 million. Just because he’s successful online doesn’t mean he’s going to decide to abandon his brick and mortar location. He’s still a staple in the community and is able to continue operating thanks to his complementing online sales.

If this antiques dealer didn’t have connection to high-speed Internet, he wouldn’t be making his online sales, which would mean he’d likely have to close his brick and mortar store. So in this case, access to the internet and online shopping is actually saving a brick and mortar store rather than replacing it.

I think it’s great that eBay Canada is rolling out a training course like this, and based on the number of businesses being supported and the relatively low amount of funding required by the government, it’s a fantastic initiative.

The only issue is many rural areas in Canada still don’t have reliable and affordable connections to high-speed Internet. This limits where eBay can offer their Retail Revival courses in the future.

I frequently discuss how rural areas require high-speed Internet in order for local businesses and farms to compete on a global scale, and this eBay story is just another example of all the benefits a reliable broadband connection offers.       

As business owners in Halifax brush up on their online marketplace strategies, I look forward to watching the city thrive and tap into markets around the world!

Campbell Patterson