Proposal will see net gains

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A Ballater butcher is encouraging local businesses to consider selling their wares through an online ‘supermarket’ for the town.

Barry Florence, of HM Sheridan Butchers, raised the concept of the virtual supermarket – with each business (or department) selling its goods through the web - at a recent meeting.

“There was a public meeting in the village hall and one of the topics raised was encroaching supermarkets,” said Mr Florence.

“I made an off-the-cuff comment asking why we needed supermarkets when we’d got a local market here?

“Ballater is a department store with everything a supermarket can offer - and a few services that supermarkets can’t offer!

“I think it’d be great if we could tie it all together online so people can shop in Ballater.

“It’s similar to the ‘Amazon’ market, in that you buy from Amazon but it comes from individual suppliers.

“You could shop in any of the village shops with one basket and payment.

“We really need to move forward with the times and this is how people are doing their shopping now.

“When they have 10 minutes spare in their day, they are picking up their phone or laptop and ordering their shopping online.

“The idea is at a very early stage and we need to establish if this is technically possible and whether the interest is there, but I am going to raise it at the Ballater Business Association meeting.

“As far as I understand it, I don’t think we (the businesses) can link our websites together to form a shop, but it would be possible to form a website that we could feed our shops into.”

Mr Florence, who is about to launch his own website selling online, said there had been so many changes in business recently – including the business rate increases, a bad winter, local supermarket impact and the fuel price rise - that it was difficult to say what impact supermarkets on their own had had.

“They’re (the supermarkets) are selling online, so I am going to sell online,” he said. “If the idea of this virtual supermarket is welcomed then it’ll be fantastic. If not, I’ll still get my website up and running.”

Bryn Wayte, chairman of Ballater Business Association, said: “It is a positive concept but it will obviously need a great deal of research to establish the feasibility of such a wide-ranging project.

“I am sure the technology is available but the major hurdle to overcome would be the logistics of getting the individual businesses to work to the same format.

“However, such a project may well attract some form of development grant or investment and may provide some employment opportunities within the village, if the concept can be developed successfully.

“We look forward to discussing the idea with Barry at our next meeting in June and hopefully it is something that can be used to promote Ballater and the local businesses.”