A Perth startup is setting out to bring more bricks-and-mortar retailers into e-commerce, while offering a delivery-style courier system that will get goods to consumers within the space of an hour.
Headed up by founder and chief Matty Gee, Flash Market is a marketplace allowing consumers to browse what’s on offer from their local retailers, and order immediately.
The idea is to allow those smaller players to compete with the big end of town, including the likes of Amazon, which can offer next-day or even same-day delivery.
It’s set to launch at the end of the month, in conjunction with a Birchal equity crowdfunding campaign.
Gee is seeking a maximum of $5 million through the campaign. If successful, it would be the biggest raise in Australian equity crowdfunding history.
Ahead of the launch, the business has 30,000 customers already registered and 300 businesses on board.
“We’re all in the same boat”
Gee has been working on the Flash Market concept since 2016, he tells SmartCompany. Having run a previous startup that ultimately didn’t succeed, he knew how hard small business owners have it.
And, on various trips to regional towns around the country, he was noticing more and more ‘for lease’ and ‘closing down’ signs in store windows. And that was before the pandemic set in.
“I could just feel the pain of all these families,” he explains.
“We’re all in the same boat.”
These small businesses are “the bedrock” of communities, he adds.
The online sector had been growing and growing, and he wanted to offer small business owners an easy way to access that trend, and to stand out among other retailers that were perhaps more set up for e-commerce.
The data showed that what really got consumers over the line was faster delivery, he explains.
So-called ‘flash delivery’ was a way to “give them the edge”, he adds.
The idea was to make it easier for retailers to create an online presence for their local consumers, and easier for consumers to shop local, too.
“It works for food. Why can’t it work for retail?”
A national sensation?
Of course, while Gee has been working on building the platform for some years now, COVID-19 only exacerbated the problems he was setting out to address.
It has also led to increased consumer awareness around supply chains, and more willingness to support local business.
A recent e-commerce trends report from Australia Post noted an acceleration of the ‘buy local’ trend. NAB’s Consumer Sentiment Survey for Q2 2021 also found that, although financial stress has increased, consumers are more inclined to buy Australian-made goods — even if it means paying more.
“It’s a perfect time for us to start our soft launch and really get this thing out there,” Gee says.
Over the next six to 12 months, Gee is looking to build out the team, including scaling the development team considerably.
He will also focus on outreach, marketing, customer support and onboarding, as the team refines the product and starts to scale up in time for the Christmas trading period.
“Hopefully we reach that national sensation status really quickly,” Gee says.
“We want people flocking to our marketplace and really feeling proud that something so big came out of Australia.”