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7 Local Business Ideas That Every Community Needs

14 min read

Cold feet about selling nationwide? Test the waters by launching a local online business.

Why? Well, first of all, there’s no better time than the present. The pandemic has changed how consumers shop, one of the most prominent ways being the increased interest in finding what they need nearby. Searches for “local” + “business” have grown by more than 80% year over year, including searches like “local businesses near me” and “support local businesses.”

Read on for some ideas for a local business you can run online, offering advantages nationwide sellers lack.

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Why You Should Consider Starting a Local Business

The benefits of running a local business combine advantages both for you and your customers. Here are some compelling reasons to look into launching a local business.

  • The rise of eco-conscious shoppers. Nearly 8 in 10 consumers say they value sustainability. Shopping local helps reduce impact to the environment by using less wrapping paper and minimizing the carbon emissions associated with shipping.
  • Consumers want to buy local. This is especially true when it comes to food: freshness is the most common reason for buying local in the US. COVID-19 also contributed to the rise of the “Support local” movement. In the US, 49% of consumers have made a purchase specifically to support a local small business during the pandemic.
  • Government support for local businesses. Small business owners can get help from their local government in the form of a grant, a loan, contract assistance, etc. Be sure to check local listings for more information on how your government might be able to support your business dreams.
  • Cheaper delivery. Customers love to pay less for delivery — or, better yet, get their items for free. For a seller, it’s much easier to reduce costs when you deliver locally.
  • Same day delivery. A local business can deliver an order the same or next day, while shipping from another city can sometimes take a week. Customers can also order courier delivery, or pick up their order in-store, giving them even more delivery options.
  • Easier to deliver perishable food and oversized goods. Delivering easily spoiled items or oversized products is more convenient within a single city where an ice pack is not going to let you down.
  • Customers can have a look at the product before the purchase. Even though the online shopping industry is booming, some customers still prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. It’s easier for them to decide on a purchase if they can hold your product in their hands. Plus, this allows an extra opportunity to show off the quality of your items and get live customer feedback.

Ideas for Your Local Online Business

One of the most promising ideas for local online businesses is also one of the most popular: selling food. Shoppers value freshness over packaged foods: 46% of consumers prefer locally sourced ingredients in what they eat. So don’t be surprised that it’s our most popular local business idea vertical. But even if you’re not a grocer-in-training, we hope some of our ideas will help inspire you towards taking that next step.

An Online Store for Farm Products

These stores are targeted at consumers who crave organic food. Farmers mostly sell fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, milk, meat, honey, homemade sauces, pickles, herbs. Most of these products have a short shelf life, so it’s important to deliver them fast.

For example, Taylor Family Farm sells pasture-raised meats, eggs, dairy and bread. They also offer non-GMO feeds and events for those who are currently raising meat birds.

Even if you don’t own a farm, you can still sell farm products — reach out to local farms to partner with them on opening an online storefront.

Bakeries and Sweet Shops

Remember our collective home-baked bread obsession during the pandemic? It just goes to show, people love bread! Consumers are interested in both high quality ingredients and unusual and unique bread recipes. As a bakery, you can satisfy this demand faster than a huge bread manufacturer while also offering a wide range of products.

In addition to selling baked goods online, you can sell them to go and might even consider opening a small cafe.

A sweet shop can also compete with chain supermarkets — if you sell products made from natural ingredients without preservatives and artificial colors. For example, ice cream, or sweets made from nuts and dried fruits.

The artisanal bakery The Pickled Fig offers freshly baked artisan breads, cakes, pastries, gourmet sandwiches, as well as cheeses, charcuterie, and even hampers and gifts.

A Prepped Meals Portal

You don’t need to open a cafe to sell food online. You can cook meals to be delivered.

Fresh meal delivery is in demand! Not only with office workers, but also people who prefer home cooked meals but don’t have time to cook themselves. Pay attention to niche meal preparation: it might be a great idea to make food for people with dietary preferences (vegetarian or vegan) or restrictions (salt free, allergy friendly).

For example, On-Season Meals sells four different meal prep plans. Every week customers can choose from 13 meal items. On-Season Meals integrate a variety of cuisine: international, fusion and classic comfort food.

At-Home Meal Kits

Hot niche alert: the meal kit delivery service market could become a nearly $20 billion industry by 2027!

Selling meal kits is halfway between selling groceries and selling meals as a restaurant. Customers order boxes of ingredients prepared for cooking. The boxes also contain recipes customers use to cook meals from the food they order.

At-home meal kits reduce time and effort spent on cooking and allow consumers to try new dishes, while minimizing food waste. Meal kits are in high demand in big cities where many people live fast-paced lives and don’t have time to cook.

If you run a grocery store or a cafe, you can start delivering at-home meal kits as an additional service.

Learn more: Rules and Regulations for Selling Food Online

Flower Shop

People buy cut flowers, floral arrangements, and potted plants for special occasions and home decor. Apart from flowers purchased from domestic and international flower farms, you can also sell local seasonal flowers and dried bouquets.

The floral industry is undergoing a transition, as independent brick-and-mortar flower shops are showing increasing vulnerability to competition from big competitors like supermarkets.

At the same time, the number of online flower shops has grown. Ordering flowers online is becoming more convenient than heading to a shop to purchase them. So, in this case, launching an online store with a local delivery route might be your best bet.

For example, Fleurs Lumière sells fresh flower arrangements that they deliver locally. They offer nationwide shipping too, but only for decor items and bouquets with everlasting roses (natural flowers that have undergone a preservation process to maintain their freshness with no need for water or sunlight.)

A Tailor Shop

The demand for tailor-made clothing decreased in 2020 while people were staying at home. On the other hand, garment repair and clothing alteration services were booming. That’s why a tailoring shop focused on providing garment repair and other services like cutting, sewing and modifying customers’ clothing to match their needs might be a bright idea.

You can also sell curtains and bed sheets for an additional stream of income. Or, combine your tailoring services with dry cleaning.

If you already own a tailor shop, set up an online store to receive orders online and expand your client base.

Where to Find more Ideas for Your Local Business

Looking for more local business ideas? Here’s how to find out what’s in demand in your area:

    • Use Google Trends to find out what people in your area are looking for and what the local market offers. Make sure to explore results by region and pay attention to related topics and queries.

  • If there’s competition in your niche, that’s a positive sign, as it means there’s demand for your product or service. Analyze your competitors to identify their strong and weak points. Apply successful solutions to your business and offer customers something your competitors can’t.
  • Explore your background to identify possible business ideas. What products or services do you and your friends use? Which services or stores do your town or city lack?
  • Visit markets and local craft fairs to scope out new products or services that business owners are offering. Check out which ones get the most customers. You might find an idea for a business that your town or city needs, or collaborate with a local crafter on taking their business to the next level.

More ways to identify products in demand:

How to Start a Local Business

Now that you’ve found a promising business idea, the real fun begins! Here are the first steps of your ecommerce journey:

Set Up an Online Store

An ecommerce website allows you to accept orders and payment online, and organize local delivery for your small business. With an online store, you don’t need to spend part of your budget on rent, which significantly minimizes the starting costs of launching your business.

With Ecwid, you can build an ecommerce site for free! Without the need for developers or designers. The whole setup process takes less than an hour.

Set Up Local Delivery

Quick delivery is a competitive advantage for a local business. Make sure you organize it to suit the needs of your customers.

Ecwid has rich and flexible settings for all types of local delivery needs. You can:

  • Set up in-store or curbside pickup to allow customers to get the orders when it’s convenient for them.
  • Allow customers to choose the preferred date and time for local delivery.
  • Set up a local delivery area in your store.
  • Set up different prices for delivery depending on the area.
  • Specify a minimum order amount for free delivery.
  • And even more. Learn more about local delivery settings for Ecwid stores.

You can specify delivery time slot length in your Ecwid store

Start Promoting Your Business Locally

Customers can’t find your store if they don’t know about it. Here are a few ways to reach shoppers and effectively advertise your local business:

  • Create a Google My Business listing so that your store comes up both as a search result and within Google Maps.
  • Advertise your store on local media — radio, TV, and newspapers, as well as blogs and podcasts.
  • List your store in local business directories.
  • Partner with local micro-influencers for a social media collaboration.
  • List your local products on Google (Learn more about Google Shopping.)

Need more ideas? Read how to promote your local business in our blog post.

We’d love to learn about successful businesses in every city and town. Do you have any questions about using Ecwid for your local business? Share them in the comments!


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About the author

Anastasia Prokofieva is a content writer at Ecwid. She writes about online marketing and promotion to make entrepreneurs’ daily routine easier and more rewarding. She also has a soft spot for cats, chocolate, and making kombucha at home.

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