In an effort to resuscitate the fading high street brick-and-mortar business, Amazon is spearheading a new SME pilot program in the U.K.
The initiative, dubbed “Clicks and Mortar,” will provide more than 100 online brands with the opportunity to sell at 10 physical pop-up shops across the U.K. for one year, according to a statement from Amazon.
The company said the effort would generate 150 full-time apprenticeships at these small businesses through its SME Apprenticeship Fund, worth 1 million GBP ($1.26 million). The Amazon Academy training program will provide businesses and their employees with digital training to grow sales and boost exports.
Mobile payment company Square will also support the rollout, along with Enterprise Nation, a small business support network, and Direct Line for Business, an insurance provider.
The first of the Clicks and Mortar pop-ups opened at St. Mary’s Gate in central Manchester on Monday. The remaining nine pop-up shops are slated to open in Wales, Scotland, the Midlands, Yorkshire and across the southeast region of the U.K.
The pop-ups will offer a diverse array of product, from homewares to beauty products and cosmetics, food and drink, and electronics. Some of the initiative’s introductory members include Swifty Scooters, a Manchester-based operation that makes foldable kick scooters, and Altr for Men, a skincare line.
The brand’s CEO, Alex Doyle, said the Clicks and Mortar program would offer the online-only brand the chance to meet consumers face-to-face. “This gives us the first step in bringing the brand to life, letting customers be more interactive and giving them an opportunity to try and feel the product in the flesh,” he said.
“U.K. shoppers like to shop both online and in high street stores, and our intention is to help small businesses succeed by combining the best elements of online and high street retail,” said Emma Jones MBE, the founder of Enterprise Nation.
“This new concept will provide small businesses with the space, technology and support to experience physical retail for the first time, while enabling customers to discover new brands on their local high streets.”
Clicks and Mortar will be subject to independent research by an unnamed consulting group, which will provide an impact report to the U.K. government at the end of the program’s year-long run. The report’s analysis will inform Future High Street strategy, according to Amazon.