At the start of the lockdown, Neath Port Talbot council created NPT Buy Local, a simple online directory on NPT.gov.uk showing which local businesses were providing home deliveries and support.
This was built to test the hypothesis that it would help residents during Covid-19 by signposting them to local businesses, provide exposure for local businesses with a digital listing on our website and help support and grow the local economy.
It has had a positive impact, with 6,000 page views since its launch. Many residents shopped for the first time with their local greengrocer, butcher or farm store as they were unable to shop online with the major supermarkets who could not cope with demand and for the first time many local businesses who were digitally excluded had the opportunity to reach new customers online.
Further iterations have been delivered, improving the layout of the directory, creating categories to make it easier for residents to locate businesses and setting up a database to store and manage business listings.
The Council now intends to build on the work already delivered during Covid-19 to bring the council, its businesses and residents closer together, with the vision of creating a platform for a virtual high street to complement (not compete with) the traditional high street.