East Flemish municipality joins forces with Google to help local traders go digital

More and more of us are shopping online and this hasn’t gone unnoticed in the East Flemish municipality of Merelbeke. In order to help local traders, keep up with the times and set up a web shop the local authority in Merelbeke has joined forces with the internet giant Google. 

The Merelbeke Alderman responsible for local economy and trade Tim De Keukelaere (liberal) told the VRT News that “We are going to coach local traders and lead them along the road towards digitalisation".

The coronavirus pandemic served to accelerate the move toward buying goods online. With some shops closed for a total of around 3 months last year and restrictions in place on the number of customers allowed into stores even when they were allowed to open, shopkeepers in Merelbeke, just like everywhere else, were forced to experiment with web shops and other digital tools.

"70% of online purchases are made from international companies. So, it is important that we coach our local shopkeepers”. 

"A win-win situation"

Google is offering its help and support to local traders free of charge.

"It just takes a little time because the coach needs to collect data and information before the web shop can be launched”, Alderman De Keukelaere told VRT News.  

"But everyone should sign up. It is a win-win situation for both the traders and Municipality of Merelbeke”. 

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