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Sook’s retail success helps Amazon’s small business accelerator




John Hoyle, CEO and founder of Sook, at The Grafton premises. Picture: Keith Heppell
John Hoyle, CEO and founder of Sook, at The Grafton premises. Picture: Keith Heppell

Amazon’s small business accelerator has been launched, a programme which includes a range of videos offering advice and assistance in building a small business – with one from Sook founder and CEO John Hoyle.

Sook was already involved with Amazon’s ‘Clicks & Mortar’ initiative last year, which gave online retailers the chance to try out being in a retail environment.

“It started out in Manchester shops,” says a spokesperson for Amazon, “and a trial partnership was lined up for April using Sook’s Cambridge premises at The Grafton – then came lockdown and the programme was paused. However, the small businesses really enjoyed it and learned a lot.”

Meanwhile, the small business accelerator began because “half of all products sold on Amazon in the UK are from small businesses, and we know a lot of these need support”.

If you are thinking about starting a new business, or scaling up your existing operation, there may be something in it for you.

The support includes a range of online training videos launched last week with Sook founder John Hoyle is one of the trainers along with other experts to help you scale your business, find funding and develop your operation.

Cambridge-based John Hoyle, whose contribution since arriving in the city has seen a new sustainable hub develop on the CB2 site in Norfolk Street which has included Thrive bistro and Full Circle, said: “I am one of the collaborators in this Amazon initiative – Sook is the pop-up retail space expert.

Thrive, Full Circle and The Serpentine Swap have a home at Sook’s Norfolk Street premises. Picture: Keith Heppell
Thrive, Full Circle and The Serpentine Swap have a home at Sook’s Norfolk Street premises. Picture: Keith Heppell

“This pandemic has changed the world — and people’s mindsets — forever. Shoppers are more anxious. They want to buy things in a physical space but are still hesitant, requiring trust in a business and their safety measures first.

“While many stores are implementing strong social-distancing guidelines, technology can help even further.

“At Sook, we are ensuring our spaces are as safe as possible through enabling contactless transactions via shoppable QR codes; the ability to design a layout that creates a distanced, one-way shopping experience; heat-mapping data that allows business owners to reflect on changing shopper behaviour, adapting to meet their needs.

“We believe that technology can help business owners to tap into the customer mindset, ensuring everyone feels more comfortable in this new and uncertain world.”

Amazon and Enterprise Nation launched small business accelerator to support more than 200,000 UK startups and small businesses. Businesses can access free training, services, credits and support from Amazon, Enterprise Nation and partners – and an intensive week-long bootcamp to help 1,000 offline businesses get online.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy and by helping them we can help families, communities and the UK bounce back more quickly,” said Doug Gurr, UK country manager, Amazon.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “It is vital that small businesses are able to develop the digital skills they need.”



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