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bidswan launches online marketplace that supports buy local movement

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The buy-local movement has transitioned from being merely a trend to a mainstream business model, benefitting local companies and communities.

Many local businesses use daily-deal websites to generate or enhance sales. Yet when Joshua Kibbey of Columbus talked to local merchants in his area, he kept hearing that such sites weren’t bringing long-term value to their businesses. 
“These types of sites are simply marketing for small businesses, like mailing coupons or putting them in the newspaper,” he explains. “It’s one way to market, but the business model only works if you have high volume, low-margin deals. Those types of deals aren’t conducive to growing a quality customer base.”
Believing there was a better way, Kibbey created BidSwan in 2011. The online marketplace allows companies to cost-effectively market their offerings to local consumers without having to offer drastic discounts or deal with the one-time crush of customers that often occurs with daily-deal site offerings.

BidSwan originally started with a name-your-price format. “We came to the conclusion, however, that it was too restrictive and consumers didn’t embrace it as we had hoped,” Kibbey recalls. To re-tool, he and his partners created an alliance with Small Business Beanstalk (SBB), a shop-local organization with 500 merchant members, and then re-launched BidSwan in September 2012.

“We now offer a large variety of deals at any given time,” he explains.  “We count on good selection and variety – not deep discounts -- to keep customers coming back. We also don’t have a set schedule of deals. Businesses are free to choose the volume, price point and timing of their deal to maximize the benefit to them.”
Users can go to Bidswan’s website, obtain a free SBB Community Card, purchase  vouchers for about 20 to 30 percent off the face value of items and then use the vouchers at participating local businesses. There’s no cost for merchants to join SBB. “Businesses pay us a fee to cover credit card costs, and we get a percentage of each sale,” he explains.
BidSwan has more than 60 businesses signed up, and Kibbey anticipates working with other community outreach organizations to expand

Source:   Joshua Kibbey
Writer:  Lynne Meyer
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