How Mobility Quotient created an easy and convenient way for shoppers to browse millions of local products all in one place.
SokoLocal is another in-house project created by Mobility Quotient. Launched on March 1st 2021, it provides people with a new way to easily shop (and support) local businesses. SokoLocal is a product search engine that allows consumers to search, browse, and find their favourite products online, but found from the businesses in their city. It was created to support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic (at a time when it felt like communities needed the most support they could get). SokoLocal showcases local goods, services and thousands of great local businesses across the country.
The case study below covers some of the challenges, discoveries, and achievements related to the SokoLocal project.
Our primary goal was to support local businesses. During the pandemic, people realized people realized the importance of supporting local businesses. But why weren't more people doing it? We figured that in order to get shoppers to buy locally, there needed to be an easier way to find and locate these businesses.
To overcome this challenge, we created SokoLocal as a locally focused search engine that allows shoppers to shop for products, specifically in their communities. Much like how a search engine provides results across various websites, SokoLocal indexes a variety of products from thousands of local businesses.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, many small businesses have been scrambling for ways to keep afloat. There was a significant rise in the use of food delivery services, curbside pickup, and online shopping. As these new services were on the rise, small businesses had to adjust by relying on technology and their digital presence to make sales. However, many small businesses don't have developers, SEO specialists, a marketing team, or surplus dollars to spend on online advertising. This could be detrimental to their business.
We took the global competition out of online shopping with SokoLocal. The product search engine gives priority to products from locally owned businesses in their communities, so users are always met with results from local businesses first. Business owners no longer have to worry about the "big guys" stealing their spotlight. Products can also be promoted and given preferential positioning within the results in their geography.
Additionally, we offered SEO support to local businesses to help them improve their ranking on SokoLocal and across all search engines.
It's no news to us that local marketplaces started to have a larger presence during the pandemic. However, many businesses were faced with the same chicken and egg scenario – do the customers or the products come first? In order to attract customers, there must be businesses and products. In order to build product inventory, there must be a regular flow of consumers. With the lockdowns, one of these factors had been severely affected, which consequentially affected business.
Our knowledge of SEO and building website traffic can give us the ability to attract visitors. But why was it so hard to find products from local businesses listed on local marketplaces? After conversations with business owners, we learned that the process of uploading product inventory to multiple new platforms was prohibitive, especially when there were no resources or support for small businesses to do that. Businesses already have to manage their websites, social media pages, and an actual brick-and-mortar store. So, we took the work out of the process by removing the need for manual (and duplicative) inventory management on SokoLocal, and instead relied exclusively on pulling products from their existing website.
We wanted to simplify the process of listing products on SokoLocal for local businesses, as compared to the other online marketplaces. What separates SokoLocal from other online marketplaces? Firstly, we removed the labor factor of having to manage product listings in multiple places. Instead, a business just needs to submit the link to their already-existing online store, focus on keeping their website current, and leave the rest to us.
How? We use indexing technology to catalogue products from eligible websites, so they are streamed effortlessly into our search engine. Additionally, we constantly refresh the content—as products are sold, edited, added, and removed, these changes are reflected within the SokoLocal search engine.
Three months after the launch, SokoLocal reached over 1 million products with over 790 businesses listed on the platform. In the 8 weeks following, the platform reached 2 million products with over 1,200 businesses listed on the platform.
Additionally, we've helped numerous small businesses improve their SEO practices and as a result, gain more visibility within their cities and communities.
We can help. Contact us and let's discuss your website goals and challenges