A Sheffield-based entrepreneur who is providing a vital lifeline to the city’s struggling independent supermarkets is set to roll out his innovative online shopping portal across the UK after seeing demand soar during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Since the end of March, Sheffield-based 3miles.co.uk has helped the city’s independent retailers secure orders of more than £100,000 and is attracting an average of 500 new customers per week as growing numbers of shoppers turn to the internet for their weekly shop.
The service was pioneered by Mazen Musaed, who has been working closely with the Sheffield City Region Launchpad programme, to build and develop his innovative business model. Having seen demand for his service soar, the young entrepreneur is now setting his sights on rolling the service out to other parts of the UK including Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.
Mazen first began developing his business, then called Ready Mart, during his final year at Sheffield Hallam University in 2019. After realising many independently-owned businesses were deterred from selling their goods online due to the prohibitive set up costs and time associated with managing a web-based business, Mazen sought to simplify the process, enabling shoppers to purchase a range of goods from different retailers which are delivered directly to the doors of customers.
Earlier this year, he rebranded the business to 3miles.co.uk and launched a complimenting delivery service, enabling shoppers to choose from a growing range of 5000 different products which are sourced from speciality retailers and delivered to their door at the click of a button.
Designed to aggregate produce offered by local, independently-owned grocery specialists, shoppers can visit a range of different shops within the platform, connecting them with delivery drivers, enabling the shops to offer a seamless delivery service. Since Mazen launched his business last summer 3miles.co.uk has forged partnerships with a growing number of speciality retailers including fresh meat, zero waste and organic produce.
The business currently employs six people, but the young entrepreneur is not sitting on his laurels and he is now setting his sights on building the business into a national brand, capable of offering an alternative to supermarket delivery services.
Since working with the Launchpad programme, Mazen has been able to tap into a wealth of practical support to grow his business, including collaborating with a tech specialist to ensure the platform was capable of meeting high demands and he is now working with the programme to help him secure the investment needed to grow and roll-out his business across the UK, with the aim of creating 19 full-time roles in Sheffield.
Mazen Musaeed, founder, 3Miles.co.uk, said: “The demand for online grocery shopping has risen dramatically as more people switch their weekly shop from the supermarket to home delivery services. Yet many have found themselves unable to secure suitable booking slots and have been left disappointed when the products ordered haven’t arrived. At the same time, many independent retailers, typically dependent on passing trade and regular customers have seen their orders drop significantly - simply because they do not have the resources to balance running a retail business and selling online.
“Since lockdown began we have forged partnerships with a number of new independent retailers helping them to access a precious source of income during a difficult trading period."
Natalie Fletcher, Business Advisor at Launchpad, said: “When an entrepreneur joins the Launchpad programme, they are not just tapping into a wealth of experience and knowledge available throughout the Sheffield City Region, they become part of a vibrant dynamic business community.
“Although no one could have predicted the current events, Mazen was quick to recognise that his business concept could help others by offering a means of helping them to access speciality produce from the comfort of their own home and we are looking forward to continuing to support Mazen’s ambitious growth plans as he continues to scale and grow his business in the future.”
The Sheffield City Region Launchpad programme helps individuals who are thinking of starting their own business as well as providing ongoing support and guidance during their first three years of trading. The programme is financially supported by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by local authorities based in the Sheffield City Region and the Princes Trust.