Retail Takes Shopping Local into the Digital Age CEO Jed Kleckner drops in to discuss the what, how, and why of his business and how social media and new features are making it even better Takes Shopping Local into the Digital Age

“The foundation of was built off the need for a simple online solution for shopping your local neighborhood,” says Jed Kleckner. “Assites started to appear online, local merchants found themselves competing with people they didn’t know – not physical stores, but online alternatives.”

Where many saw a dilemma, Kleckner and his associates decided to turn it into an opportunity with the creation of, an e-commerce proxy site that allows consumers to buy from local businesses online. “We saw the ability to match the emergence of e-commerce with the simple fact that a lot of people still purchase from their local merchants,” he explains.

2004 wasn’t the most totally risk-free year for an internet start-up – the dot-com bubble had burst not even five years prior. But what did have going for it was a basic concept solid and logical enough to earn the backing of finance titan Cantor Fitzgerald. Not a bad investment: these days the site boasts half a million users and a presence in fifty cities. Though it does business with multiple verticals, deals overwhelmingly with the foodservice industry, with a same-day delivery service platform that gives restaurants and other foodservice businesses an online presence and analternative to take-out ordering in person or over the phone.

It would be easy to kick back and coast on the services already offered. But, as Kleckner explains, keeping up with the times is crucial. Case in point: the two new features has just released, Office and group ordering.

“To be relevant in the digital age, it was important for us to have an offering that worked at home as well as in the office,” says Kleckner. “The only difference is that, in these economic times, it’s important to provide companies with the ability to track and manage spend.” Enter Office, an interface that functions exactly the same for consumers, but – much like a business expense account – allows higher-ups to track and manage office spending done through the site.

It should be surprising to absolutely no one that both of’s new features are all about connecting people. If there’s one thing the company has seen over the years, it’s the development of shopping as a social experience. That’s also why the company is beefing up its presence on Twitter and Facebook, in turn beefing up its clients’ social media presences by proxy.

“When we started the company, e-commerce was a singular experience,” says Kleckner. “You’d go online, you’d purchase something, and then you’d sign out. The fact that other people were on the site at the same time wasn’t really available to you as a user. What we’ve seen now, with the emergence of social media, is the concept of social commerce. Now, when a consumer comes to our site or a merchant is added to our platform, in both cases they want to know what other people say.”

In a way, it’s a strange concept – an online presence being necessary to bring people closer to businesses right outside their front door. But in an online global marketplace that threatens to isolate people from knowledge of their own community, it’s necessary to find new ways to connect. For that, we salute companies like for helping local commerce take back the neighborhood. 

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