Retail technology and delivery service provider Shipt Inc. is rolling out its new LadderUp plan, intended to boost ecommerce activity in local businesses.
Shipt will provide selected operators with capital, e-commerce focused technical assistance, and education from industry leaders. The Birmingham, Ala.-based operator said LadderUp will support local economies by helping small businesses, and especially companies owned by LGBTQ+ people and people of color, grow and compete.
The company said it is seeking to level the economic playing field for black and other underrepresented populations by having at least 50% of the businesses in LadderUp be LGBTQ+ and BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color)-owned.
“Working with small businesses to build up their capabilities is a key part of our commitment to help create healthier, more resilient and equitable communities,” Kamau Witherspoon, Shipt chief executive officer, said in a statement.
Shipt is accepting applications through March 6 from businesses in Atlanta, Birmingham, Detroit, Houston, and Washington, D.C. The program is open to retailers in the grocery/beverage, health, beauty, and floral/gifts sectors.
Selected retailers will go through an extensive eight-week course in which industry leaders will cover such topics as driving sustainable growth, building a financial foundation, building efficiency, marketing, e-commerce 101, using Shipt, and the basic legal knowledge needed to run a business.
Shipt said upon completion of LadderUp, businesses will have in-depth industry knowledge to help them navigate and understand trends in the ecommerce landscape.
The participants also will receive $5,000 to invest in their ecommerce. In addition, Shopify Inc., an Ottawa, Ont.-based e-commerce technology provider, will teach a program course and provide no-cost access to its platform to help retailers build an online storefront, streamline operations, and optimize inventory tracking.
LadderUp is the latest effort by Shipt to support the communities in which it operates and serves, company said. In 2022, Shipt awarded nearly $250,000 in microgrants to organizations that focus on food insecurity, economic disparities, and youth workforce development.