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Local online shopping tips to support your community

Support your community from the safety of your home by shopping online from local businesses.

6 min read

Want to reduce your carbon footprint while supporting businesses in your community? If so, then consider shopping locally—you’ll be supporting independently owned shops, and discovering items you may not find at global online retailers. The best part? Many local retailers now sell their goods online, meaning you can get all the convenience of shopping from home while supporting small business owners in your city!  

To help you get started, we’ve put together some tips on how to shop locally—both online and offline.

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The benefits of shopping local

We get it. It’s tempting to simply buy everything from one massive online shopping platform. However, it’s worth investing a little more time in your purchasing decisions, because money well spent can have a seriously positive impact on your community, the environment, and even your quality of life. 

Support local businesses: Buying from local shops means your money stays in the community—this helps to ensure retail diversity and employment opportunities in your town or city. What’s more, thriving local businesses also means increased tax revenue for local services and infrastructure.

Protect the environment: Shorter shipping distances equals fewer transport emissions. Buying locally grown produce is also more environmentally friendly than factory farmed alternatives. 

Save on shipping: You can avoid shipping fees by visiting shops in person or buying from local websites with in-store or curbside pick-up. 

Enjoy fresher, better quality food: Fruit, vegetables, and other foodstuffs are fresher, healthier, and taste better when they’re locally sourced. You’ll also be supporting local farmers, who often use sustainable and/or organic farming methods. 

Foster a sense of community: Shopping locally means that you’ll be interacting more with fellow residents, so you’ll feel more connected to your community. Numerous studies have indicated that social connection also improves wellbeing.

Get personal advice: Local business owners are passionate and knowledgeable about their wares and can give you personalized advice, whether on the phone, in-person or via email. 

Fresh products from local farmers

To survive the long journey from a distant country to your fridge, many imported fruits and vegetables must be harvested before they are ripe, transported chilled, and artificially ripened upon arrival. Yum? We don’t think that sounds particularly appetizing. Plus, international supply chains have greater carbon footprints than locally or regionally sourced produce. 

Supermarkets: The good news is you don’t need to search for a family-run organic supermarket to find fresh, local products. Regular supermarkets also stock meat and veg that hasn’t completed a world tour. While some packaging actively promotes the product’s regional credentials, often you’ll have to scour the label to find the country of origin.

Farmer’s markets: Get the good stuff straight from the source. To find out where your nearest farmer’s market is (and if it’s still open despite Covid-19 restrictions), check out online directories like these in the UK, the USA, Germany, France and Spain.

Food box subscriptions: An even more convenient way to eat local is to order a food box subscription. Countless companies deliver weekly boxes packed with seasonal vegetables, such as Oddbox in southeast England, Farm to People in New York or A Farmer For You in Berlin.

Local pharmacies provide expert advice

The discounts offered by big online pharmacies are certainly tempting. But here, too, you can use your consumer choices to vote for the kind of community you’d like to live in. We reckon people (particularly older folks) benefit from access to bricks-and-mortar pharmacies and having their prescriptions completed in person by a trained professional. 

You might pay a bit more when you support your local chemist, but you’ll benefit from personalized service and peace of mind that you’re getting the right product. 

For example, people with high blood pressure or heart disease should not take decongestant tablets containing pseudoephedrine. When you buy them online, no one is going to ask you about your pre-existing conditions, and you may miss this information unless you go hunting through the lists of side effects and warnings.

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Local bookstores—havens of culture and knowledge

Okay, maybe you have to be a bookworm to appreciate the smell of a freshly bound hardback. Still, we think there is a particular pleasure to be had in immersing yourself in a shop filled with the printed word.

If you’re not sure what to read, ask a bookstore employee—they’re usually bursting with recommendations. And if your desired title is not in stock, they’ll place a special order for you. Local bookshops sometimes have online stores too, so you can also support them from the comfort of your home.

For e-book lovers: if you prefer the convenience of a single device with hundreds of titles, we recommend e-readers like Kobo or Nook. They are usually compatible with digital library borrowing systems, so you can use them to read e-books from your local library, too.

Buy flowers from local florists

When you buy from a major online florist, you can’t be sure where your blooms are coming from. Maybe they’re sourced from a florist on the local high street, or maybe they’re trucked in from another city.

Here, too, shopping locally means lowering your shipping costs, reducing the carbon footprint of your purchase, supporting local businesses, and increasing social connections. Trained florists can recommend beautiful arrangements for special occasions and give you tips on how to make your bouquet last as long as possible. Stepping into a flower shop is also a sensory experience not to be sniffed at!

Local shopping apps and sites

Google Maps and Apple Maps are the obvious places to start when you’re looking for local businesses. You can enter quite specific search terms, or simply zoom around and see what’s on offer near you.

However, there are plenty of alternatives. Head to the leading online business directory in your country (e.g. Yellow Pages, Yell) or try your luck on Yelp, where you can search for everything from dentists to beauty salons. Lots of local businesses are on Facebook and Instagram, so you can also use the search function to look for stores. 

Even though you’re not travelling, you could also use Foursquare City Guide or TripAdvisor in your own town or city to locate nearby restaurants, bookstores, clothing shops, and more.

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How N26 helps you support local businesses

At N26, we understand why shopping locally is important. That’s why N26 debit Mastercards are designed to help you pay quickly and contactlessly at the stores in your neighborhood—and make secure online purchases on your favorite local online shops.

All our cards feature contactless NFC technology, so you can minimize the amount of time you spend at the cash register—simply tap and go. You can also link your card with the Google Pay or Apple Pay apps and make in-store payments using your phone. Plus, when you shop online with your N26 card, your purchases are protected by Mastercard’s 3D Secure technology. This extra authentication step helps to prevent fraud. So you can order click-and-collect groceries with added peace of mind.


How do I report debit card fraud?

Most banks will have a phone number you can call, or if you bank online, you may be able to message your bank through your app. At N26, we have a dedicated Customer Support team on hand to deal with any security questions you may have. Customers should report debit card fraud to Customer Support as soon as possible, who will act quickly to protect your money.

What is a Mastercard SecureCode?

This is a one-time use code generated through Mastercard SecureCode technology, for added security for card holders. This 3D Secure process is an additional way to authenticate the identity of the card owner by providing the code at checkout. It is usually sent via SMS to the user’s cell phone.

Are online payments safe?

All online payment methods should be digitally encrypted, protecting your account and personal data. At N26, each transaction goes through several layers of security, and every Mastercard debit card is 3D Security-enabled with a Mastercard SecureCode.

How do I know if my virtual card is safe to use?

All virtual debit and credit cards should be electronically encrypted to give you security from banking fraud. With N26, all our cards are 3D Secure enabled with Mastercard SecureCode, which ensures your identity gets verified when making online payments.

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