- Shipt announced Monday it is now accepting applications for its new LadderUp small business accelerator, which is providing capital, e-commerce-focused technical assistance and education from industry leaders.
- The Target-owned e-commerce provider is seeking local retailers, including grocery and beverage ones, across five cities: Atlanta; Detroit; Houston; Washington, D.C.; and Birmingham, Alabama. Shipt said it aims to have at least half of the participating businesses in the program be owned by LGBTQ+ people and people of color.
- Shipt’s LadderUp offering stems from the company’s commitments to expand access to food in underserved communities that it made during the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health last September.
With LadderUp, Shipt is looking to give small businesses a boost with their e-commerce knowledge — likely in the hopes that they will sign on with Shipt as a third-party solution.
The program will consist of an eight-week-long learning course from unidentified retail industry leaders. Topics will cover driving sustainable growth, building a financial foundation, creating efficiency, marketing, e-commerce basics, using Shipt and understanding basic legal knowledge needed to run a business. Shipt has also teamed up with Shopify to offer a course for the program and provide free access to Shopify’s platform to help retailers create an online storefront, streamline operations and optimize inventory tracking.
Upon completion of the program, Shipt will give the retailers each $5,000 “to help invest in their e-commerce.”
Shipt is billing the program as a way for participants to come away with “in-depth industry knowledge to help them navigate and understand trends in the evolving e-commerce landscape.”
“Working with small businesses to build up their capabilities is a key part of our commitment to help create healthier, more resilient and equitable communities,” Shipt CEO Kamau Witherspoon said in a statement. “We recognize the unique role that we can play in both combating hunger in under-resourced communities and boosting small, local retailers that are so vital to communities across our country.”
The accelerator was among several commitments Shipt unveiled for the White House conference, with other initiatives including expanding its SNAP benefits through partnerships with other retailers and updating its marketplace to better support customers with specific dietary needs. The delivery company also said it plans to work with the University of Michigan to study the benefits of better access to healthy food options for people with Type 2 diabetes.
Witherspoon, a former senior Target operations executive who became Shipt’s CEO last March, said that the company “is putting food insecurity and equity at the forefront of its work.”
Shipt said its LadderUp program furthers the company’s current work to support the communities it operates in. Those efforts have included microgrants and partnerships with national organizations, including Feeding America, American Red Cross and United Way.
Applications for LadderUp will remain open through March 6. Health, beauty, and floral/gifts retailers can also apply. Shipt did not say when it would announce the selected participants.
Other retailers and e-commerce providers have also launched accelerators to support local businesses and ones with owners from traditionally underrepresented communities in recent years, including Whole Foods Market, Gopuff and DoorDash.