LocalSpots: new gift card app to support small businesses during lockdown


There has been much discussion about ways we can help support struggling small businesses across the hospitality and retail sectors in the face of COVID-19. Now that the government has, necessarily, shuttered all non-essential venues, cash flow has all but frozen for Australia’s favourite restaurants, cafes, florists, hairdressers and the like.

How do we support these venues so that they’re still around when our economy comes out of hibernation? One suggestion that’s been thrown around lately is to purchase gift cards for use later, keeping money flowing in for these businesses and ensuring we have something to look forward to when this is all over. Now, there’s an app for that.

A team of more than 30 volunteer developers have remarkably produced this useful platform in just a few days. Titled LocalSpot, the not-for-profit smartphone app allows users to simply purchase gift cards for shops and restaurants across NSW, VIC and ACT. Priced from $10, each card will become active 90 days after purchase and will remain valid for three years, but the cash will importantly flow through to the business immediately to maintain some vital cash flow.

“With the shutdown of non-essential services and the emphasis on social distancing, we know that many Australian businesses are struggling to stay afloat and there are a lot of Australians who want to help but don’t know how to with social distancing and lockdown measures,” said founder Tina Wu. “In 48 hours we created our first iteration of LocalSpots, and launched a day later. We issue gift cards for businesses who don’t have the resources to do it themselves and advertise for the ones who do. We want to make sure these businesses come out the other side, so that we can continue to enjoy our favourite local spots.”

The platform currently features over 300 local businesses from New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT, including restaurants, cafes, florists and hairdressers. The aim is to be able to make this platform available Australia wide as soon as possible.

Businesses can easily create their own page, or community members can create a page for their favourite local spot and share it with the business itself so they can claim their listing and start to receive the money.

Once community members have purchased a gift card, they can use the Facebook widget to directly share to their Facebook wall or can screenshot the purchase and link localspots.com.au and tag their local spot to encourage their friends to contribute too.

The team has tried to keep costs as low as possible to ensure that businesses are getting as much of the income as possible.

LocalSpots only charge a 3% fee on each transaction with a minimum transaction fee of 50c, designed to cover the fees charged by their payment processing platform, Stripe, as well as going towards server hosting fees and general operations. Any revenue generated will be redirected back into improving their operations and upgrading their technology so that they can continue to better help LocalSpots businesses.

More information about the app can be found here.

If you’re a small business owner wanting to be listed, contact LocalSpots via email on localspots.com.au@gmail.com.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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