Toronto To Launch 'Digital Main Street' To Help SMBs Get Online

Toronto To Launch 'Digital Main Street'

In Toronto, a new service called DMS ShopHERE, powered by the Schulich School of Business, aims to help small companies and artists move their businesses online.

The initiative 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.

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.

Small businesses have been hit hard by the coronavirus, which has forced them to close their doors. Many SMB owners have said they are 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.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the program “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.”

The aim of the program is to help build 3,000 online stores by the end of August.

Meanwhile, authorities in Los Angeles have put together lists of various places where people can get food or financial aid or other needs. The city has provided a Small Business Resilience Tool Kit, which contains a number of resources for business owners and strategies for surviving the pandemic.

And in Spokane, Washington, leaders have launched Inland Biz Strong, a digital program that connects business owners with financial aid programs.

Digital marketplace OfferUp has seen an influx in traffic as of late, too, with businesses looking to forge connections to customers to replace the physical shopping that has temporarily gone away. Since the pandemic began, OfferUp has seen furniture stores, car rental businesses and other companies pivoting to the platform. CEO Nick Huzar told PYMNTS he’s seen a huge uptick in customers, with parents using the service to buy games, puzzles and outside playsets they can no longer find in stores. Huzar told PYMNTS he’s prepared for the long haul as the effects of the pandemic don’t seem likely to end anytime soon.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.