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What is #LocalFirst?  

Briefly, shopping Local First is the practice of thinking, finding and purchasing local products first, before venteuting ourside our local area.

Shop local

The shop local movement has it's roots hundreds of years ago in the US mainly starting with the expansion of railroads into smaller cities and the introduction of catalog shopping in the USA with Tiffany's Blue Book in 1845.

The concept and message of the benefits to the local community has not changed primarily since the benefits remain the same.

At the same time there are benefits to consumers with access to more inventory both remote and also in larger chain stores moving into local communities.

The balancing of these forces even in 2024, Thirty years after the invention of ecommerce, will continue as humans understand the tradeoffs between shopping local and otherwise.

Today shopping local does not necessarily mean only purchasing items which were created locally, although in some categories such as fresh produce we are understanding the need to have some level of local self reliance in cases of emergencies, as well as other benefits including environmental.


More recently, a more refined model has been growing momentum called #LocalFirst. And this is one of the pillars of our mission at Visional, to help consumers think and shop more from local retailers.

The impact of proliferating chain stores and easy online shopping on the local business community and retail which is a major part of community is now an active conversation in every local municipality including business groups, chambers of commerce and even the consumers.

Shopping #LocalFirst means prioritizing purchases from local store before venturing out. Dues to the increasing fast and convenient of online search and shopping, searching local is not easy.

Challenges are:

- It takes more time to actually search local with increased commute times even in smaller cities and people's time becoming less available.

- The best search engines still do not provide real-time brand and inventory information to consumers.

So while the large majority of consumers like the idea of shopping local, they just do not have the means to do it, specially WHEN they need the items.


Online commerce has given consumers the ability to discover and shop 24x7x365, when they need it. People are not going shopping, even for considered purchases, to the stores as much as they'd like to, there's just not enough time. So going to the store is more of a fun outing and entertainment which although very enticing, limits the purchasing frequency to only when consumers can make the trip.

Large retailers are moving fast into the realm of providing local inventory information to consumers and even smaller stores are getting into the action with ecommerce platform such as Shopify.

Even with all these options, issues still remain for an easy discovery and buy-it-when-I-need-it style of online shopping.

Consumers have to go to multiple websites to find different products. Amazon has made this much easier but even with the massive inventory they offer it's a small fraction of what is available and we are limited by only what is available on Amazon.

We don't actually receive the items when we buy online. Yes, delivery times are shortening, specially for food-related and commodity items, but it can still take days even weeks to receive some items.


Shopping online from outside the local area harms the environment, regardless of how fast the delivery is. Local delivery still has an impact but it can be balanced by eliminating the customer's own commute, and less environment-impacting technologies are in development so the impact of local delivery is expected to reduce over time.



The concept of #LocalFirst focuses on the discovery and purchasing of items we need from local options, before we go outside.

To accomplish this at scale retailers, technology companies and marketplaces need to offer:

- Easier options for consumers to find out what is available in their local area, marketplaces have the best chance to offer cross-brand and cross-category discovery.

- Real-time information on options and product availability.

- Cost effective and low-maintenance options for retailers, large and small, to engage and be included in discovery, purchase and fulfillment of items. As search is changing, consumer's discovery habits are also changing so just looking at search for the solution is not going to be a long term options for stores, on top of increasing costs of being found in search engines.


Luckily the Local first movement is not only maintained but it's also growing, this is where our collective efforts will bear fruit.

Local retail orgs and projects

National Retail Federation (NRF) on small business.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

Independent Retailer Month

Chambers of commerce

American Express small business saturday

Main street America

Local Business Institute

LocalFirst orgs and projects

A lot of organizations have been promoting the Local First concept, some are below and we need to be more present in front of consumers "when they shop". This has historically been active because virtually none of the large shopping apps and sites (Amazon et. al.) are informing consumers about shopping local, in fact and sadly, they try to take consumers away from local stores evidenced by their CX and actions.

Building the system for #LocalFirst

A national, rather international voice is needed to bring #LocalFirst top of mind for consuemrs. A constant reminder and flow of information on why and how to shop local.

The Why is re responsibility of all local organizations, cities, chambers of commerce, publications and more.

The How is where consumers are left on their own, and it's much more difficult to find local products online, actual products, not a website to call. This is the biggest gap, and opportunity for mastering local and we need as many companies and people to innovate and build solutions to close this gap.

We hope you take action to make #LocalFirst thinking grow and build ways to make local brand and product discovery easier and faster.


Contact us if you are interested to partner or contribute to this topic.