TRURO - Consumers will have products from some of their favourite stores in Truro at their fingertips thanks to a new online pilot project.
A dozen businesses are part of the pilot - www.shopcentralns.ca - that the Truro and Colchester Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Truro Partnership have put together with the help of the Sobey School of Business and the provincial government.
"I know online shopping is part of the customer experience and I really wanted to be a part of that," said Kim Langille of Healthy Habit Health Store during the launch of the project Tuesday morning. "It will be very easy now for rural customers to have access to urban shopping, and it will also help promote Colchester locally."
Langille said she can't afford to have her own website, but this will be a great introduction.
"I really wanted to have that commercial online presence and I believe this is going to increase sales. I'm very positive about shopcentralns.ca," she said.
It was just a few short days ago that Langille herself took to the web to check into online shopping.
"I just wanted to look at it," she said, adding she still has yet to make a purchase online. "I know lots of people who shop online and a lot of them live in urban centres, so shopping is time for them."
For Karen Baillie, owner of Elegant Steps, the project is an exciting one to be a part of.
"I looked into doing something like this myself years ago, but small business people can't afford it," she said. "But this is an amazing opportunity to level the playing field and will bring a whole new audience to our businesses."
The site is already underway with a dozen businesses, with more being added in the future.
Helping on the design and technical work of the project's first phase is Greg Beaver, a Truro native.
"As soon as I heard it was a Truro idea, I thought it was awesome because it's back home," said Beaver, who is set to graduate from Saint Mary's University this year with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. "I've worked with the Sobey School of Business on many projects and it was through them that we all came to be working together."
Beaver has a small start-up - GB Techsulting - with some partners from Halifax, which worked on the project.
"It was a great opportunity along the lines of what we do," said the 23-year-old.
With this site being the province's first town- and county-shared online shopping site, Michael Sanderson with the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary's University said it's a huge opportunity.
"Alan (Johnson with the chamber) mentioned the size of online shopping, especially in rural communities," said Sanderson. "I look at my mother, who isn't very computer literate, who went online and did all her Christmas shopping last year. People are moving online and with this being a localized site, people can order through Nova Scotia.
"It's an amazing power and I think it will put Nova Scotia on the front end instead of the back end."
The test period is set to end in December.