Background & Goals of Project
Shopping Local is well known to be one of the best things for local economies, but sometimes it can be difficult for customers to discover places that sell the goods and services they’re looking for. In the modern world where Amazon and Walmart are such an easy option there isn’t enough to balance that ease for someone wanting to shop local, so that’s where ShopLocalPeru is meant to come in. ShopLocalPeru.com is at it’s functional core us a directory of businesses able to be searched through based on a customer’s needs and help locally owned businesses connect to residents of Peru.
In order to avoid having to pay monthly hosting costs, the first stage of this website was deployed to be self hosted using a Raspberry Pi micro computer. Using Raspbian Lite, NGINX, WordPress (WP), and a handful of other services and software I was able to get the website running on the cheap. Since this is a project I’m taking up on my own without any funding or revenue sources yet self hosting was essential. It does add some added risk to the site, as I don’t get the same reliability or redundancy of professional cloud services that keep backups in locations throughout the country, but that is a risk I’m willing to manage if it means I can keep costs down as low as I am.
Once the wordpress site is up and running, the next step is to identify what I’m using for the directory itself, after some trial and error of a couple options I landed on GeoDirectory, it’s a WP Plugin that fits what I needed almost perfectly. Once that is set up, it’s just a matter of making sure the database of local businesses is full of local businesses
The Look & feel
After the functionality is working, I also needed to find a compatible theme, I landed on Supreme Directory. It’s specifically made for GeoDirectory and once that is installed and configured it’s just a matter of polishing off the different customizations to cater to the look and feel I want ShopLocalPeru.com to have. Getting a good looking branding is another important point of this project, but for now I’ve kicked that can down the road and just have a quick and dirty placeholder branding. I used Google Fonts to find a font with the friendly feel I wanted, and snagged a photo, and threw them together. This is a part of the project I want to come back to, but it works for now.
Social Media Presences
A big part of the project is a major social media presence, this took the form primarily as a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & Snapchat account. Regularly posting posts, photos, and stories featuring local Peru businesses, and even running monthly giveaways to giveaway things like gift cards to local businesses.
This project is an ongoing passion project of mine, I started it before formally starting JCM Peru, and this project will continue to evolve and grow as time goes on, we eventually plan on selling merch and exploring other options to fundraise to be able to afford to host this site on a cloud VPS to improve the speed and reliability of the site. I’ll continue to update this blogpost periodically as the website evolves.