Amazon and Enterprise Nation have announced a new initiative to help small businesses thrive online and instore. The launch of Clicks and Mortar is in association with Direct Line for Business, and payment handler Square.

Instore retail for online sellersAmazon Clicks and Mortar

The scheme will see ten Clicks and Mortar shops open across the UK, allowing 100 small online businesses to also benefit from a physical in-store presence.

“Amazon is committed to supporting the growth of small businesses, helping them boost the economy and create jobs across the UK,” said David Gurr, Amazon’s UK country manager.

“Small businesses are one of our most important customer groups.”

The first store to open is on St. Mary’s Gate in Central Manchester. Others will soon follow in the Midlands, Yorkshire, the South East, together with Scotland and Wales.

The stores are part of a year-long pilot scheme, and will sell a selection of products, including electronics, beauty products, homewares, and even food and drink. Independent research on the success of the pilot will be submitted to the Government, following the call for new ideas to develop the Future High Streets strategy.

Companies getting a taste of instore retail business will include Swifty Scoooters, Torros cases (which sells covers and cases for electronic devices), and Altr for Men, a skincare brand.

The stores will also host Amazon Lockers, which can be used as convenient pick-up points for Amazon online orders.

Amazon already has a bricks-and-mortar fashion store which opened last October in London’s Baker Street, plus 11 ‘Amazon Go’ grocery stores in the US. It has opened stores previously with retail partners to promote Black Friday deals.

Online to department store

It’s not the first online retailer to give online sellers store space. EBay have recently opened a store in Wolverhampton, allowing 40 small businesses to display and sell their wares.

Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones said the scheme would enable customers to discover new brands on their local high streets.

“Our intention is to help small businesses succeed by combining the best elements of online and high street retail,” she said.

“This new concept will provide small businesses with the space, technology and support to experience physical retail for the first time.”

Small business support

Amazon also announced it will be helping to create over 150 full-time apprenticeships through a new £1 million SME Apprenticeship Fund. On offer will be digital marketing, business administrator and customer services roles at small online businesses which sell through Amazon.

The apprenticeships will last 15-18 months and combine on the job training with online and classroom teaching.

Amazon will also provide specialist training on how to build a successful e-commerce business. It will help participating SMEs learn to market and advertise their products to customers, and sell to a global customer base.

Meanwhile, the Amazon Academy training programme will continue to provide free digital training to help small businesses grow their sales and exports.

You can register for upcoming Amazon Academy events here.