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Doing good: How Unleashed’s good products marketplace is supporting small businesses

July 7, 2020

This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Each month we highlight an app partner doing great things in our ecosystem and positively impacting small businesses around the world, in new and inspiring ways.

This month we’d like to share how the team at Unleashed, a provider of inventory management software, has made a difference with their Good Products Marketplace. This is a passion project, dedicated to helping their customers showcase and sell their goods, after the onset of COVID-19.

Creating a new way to reach customers

“With so many regions going into lockdown, we had customers all around the world, who suddenly found their distribution channels shut down,” says Lisa Miles-Heal, Chief Operating Officer at Unleashed. “There were some real cries for help from our customers, and those in the food and beverage industry were particularly hurting, unless they were selling through places like supermarkets. Those selling on-premise through cafes and hotels, lost their routes to market.

“It would be a very vanilla world without challenger brands, local artisans, and small producers of high quality goods. We believe these products matter and we wanted to find a way for our customers running these types of businesses to have access to a strong customer-base to sell to directly, while giving consumers missing those products a simple way to find and support them.”

The team put their heads together and the Good Products Marketplace was born – a curated directory of Unleashed customers ‘open for business’ through selling online. Within 10 days the site was live, featuring everything from winemakers to agricultural supplies. Today, the marketplace features 690 businesses, and at Xero, we’re proud to say the majority of those are our customers too. Listings on the site have been viewed over 40,000 times, resulting in 5,000 referrals for Unleashed customers. And the team did it all without spending a cent.

“Due to the challenges of the economic climate within our own business, we had to get creative to make the project a success, without using any budget. Our team really stepped up to the challenge and fortunately, it was a concept our community were happy to get behind. Local media coverage and word of mouth via social media helped to make the project a success.

“An unexpected bonus was the site becoming popular among users wanting to send gifts to friends and family in different parts of the world. Customers were using it to quickly find quality producers open for online sales. For example, a grandmother in New Zealand wanting to send her grandchild in the UK a birthday present, could use the directory to find the perfect gift at Threadbear Design, makers of beautiful wooden toys,” Lisa shares.

Every bit counts

One of the most rewarding things for Lisa has been the positive feedback from customers who it’s making a real difference to.

Matt Morrison, co-founder of Karma Drinks and All Good Organics, is an Unleashed and Xero customer who joined the Good Products Marketplace after the independent restaurants and cafes his company usually sold to, throughout New Zealand and the UK, closed during lockdown.  “Any channel which helps us reach the people who enjoy our drinks during this time is hugely appreciated. The Marketplace is a fantastic site for consumers to directly support local companies like ours,” declares Matt.

How the team also banded together, to work towards a common goal, has been an inspiring and motivating experience for them all.

“Our customers are resourceful and resilient, and so are our team at Unleashed, who really pulled together to make this idea happen. There is nothing more empowering and motivating, when faced with a  difficult situation, then to feel like you can make a real difference to someone who needs support.  When you come to a tricky bend in the road, you actually have to accelerate out of that corner to maintain control, and that’s what it felt like we were doing. Faced with a global situation, with so many elements out of our control, this was our way to do a bit of good where we could for our customers around the world. And it’s a concept we’re likely to keep running with, even in a post-COVID world,” Lisa concludes.

The Xero app marketplace features 800+ third party apps that help small businesses and their advisors seamlessly run their business. With apps that support everything from inventory and logistics to cash flow and project management, businesses have an array of options to build a customised experience.

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