Information for Providers

Discover how shop4support can benefit you and your customers

Receive your own online store

For any provider who hasn't made their services available online, taking the first step can be a daunting prospect. shop4support will give you as much support as possible.

If you're not sure how to gain access to your customers, or want to increase your sales, your own online store on shop4support will give you access to a vast social care market. Even better, you can get started for free, with no setup or ongoing subscription costs.

Depending on the kind of store you choose, features include:

  • Your own homepage, to help you connect with your customers, linking to catalogues in which to market your products and services
  • Your own URL to drive customers directly to your store
  • Integration with your own website, financial or case management system should you have them
  • Use of shop4support's branding within your own marketing literature
  • A full support infrastructure, with a dedicated Account Manager and telephone helpline
  • Any branches you may have in different geographical locations can be mirrored online, with different store branches created from your master catalogue of products and services. Personalised catalogues and product pricing, according to your branches, is also available
  • Pricing can be tailored to individual customers, allowing for agreed negotiated prices
  • You can choose from a range of payment options, both online and offline, using cheques, cash, credit or debit cards or PayPal
  • Automated and paperless ordering, receipting and invoicing results in a significant reduction in invoice queries, administrative time and costs
  • Automated debtor management, improving your cash flow by a potential 50 percent
  • Where employees deliver services, costs are reduced by the automatic processing of timesheets and managing holidays

s4s may levy a Transaction Fee which is payable by the provider in respect of transactions processed through the Site, as follows:
• No transaction fee will be charged for purchases where the relevant Local Authority has contractual arrangements in place with PCG to provide the Site without transaction fees to providers.
These Local Authorities currently are: Bradford, Buckinghamshire, Calderdale, East Riding, Doncaster, Hampshire, Hillingdon, Hull, Kirklees, Manchester, North Lincolnshire, West Sussex and York.
• For all other areas, a fee of 2.5% of the invoice value, with such fees in respect of any individual package of care subject to a cap of £300.00 in the first 12 month period and £200.00 per annum thereafter. This is reduced to 1.25% of the invoice value where the purchase is made by a Local Authority (and with such fees in respect of any individual package of care being subject to a cap of £150.00 in the first 12 month period and £100.00 per annum thereafter).
Fees will become payable upon a User confirming payment of the invoice on the Site, and will be subject to VAT at the applicable rate. Invoices will be raised by PCG on a monthly basis wherever an amount of more than £2.50 is due, and will be settled by Direct Debit unless agreed otherwise. Transaction Fees will be waived where payment of invoices occurs more than 6 months after the date the invoice was raised.

Budget Manager - help managing multiple budgets

shop4support's Budget Manager is an easily set up business system that allows you to efficiently manage multiple clients' personal budgets, even if funding comes from multiple sources.

Our s4s people

Contact Us

Interested in finding out more about how shop4support could work for you?

Tel: 0333 600 6330
E-mail: info@shop4support.com

About shop4support

shop4support was created when In Control, the national charity and pioneer of self-directed support, came up with the idea of using the internet to help people needing support find and buy care products and services more easily.

A website that helps people take charge of their own support so they can live the life they want, shop4support is similar to an online supermarket but is dedicated to social care - it's a unique shopping experience for people who have a disability, are getting older and/ or need support to live their life.

We believe the support people need should be designed in a way which makes sense to each individual and their family, so that people can direct their own support.

As a provider, shop4support brings you the following benefits:

  • Your own online store
  • The ability to easily transact and communicate with new and existing customers
  • Time saving automated invoicing and more
  • Help personalising your services - shop4support can advise you on aspects such as deciding how much a product or service should cost, so that customers can not only view a product or service, but also an accurate price

Even better, you can get started for free, with no setup or ongoing subscription costs.

Frequently asked questions

If there's anything you need to know, you can find some of the questions that people often ask below - simply click on a question to see the answer.

What is the difference between shop4support ("s4s") and Connect to Support ("CtS")?

Technically, very little. s4s is the system operator, and runs a national eMarketplace accessed via www.shop4support.com. CtS is the name and URL address adopted by the LAs in Yorkshire & Humber region for their local eMarketplaces, but the website itself is based upon shop4support.

Why should I register?

The eMarketplace has been developed in response to the transformation that is happening in social care, and represents the shape of how social care services will be commissioned in the future. This transformation results in many challenges and opportunities for providers, and the eMarketplace represents a way for providers to embrace these.

How do I register?

Click "Register now!". The online form should only take a few minutes to complete.

How long will it take to get me setup?

Subject to the online form being complete, you should be setup within a few days. However, there may be a short delay in linking you in to each LA's local eMarketplace.

Do I need to register for each LA?

No. Generally speaking, you will have one presence on s4s, which we then 'display' in each LA's local eMarketplace (see the next question for further details). The only exception to this is if you have a highly bespoke offer for a specific LA or geographical area, in which case you should contact the s4s helpdesk to discuss the best way to reflect this.

Who decides whether my organisation can appear in each LA's local eMarketplace?

The relevant LA. Whilst the system behind s4s operates a national basis, each LA decides which organisations are displayed in their local eMarketplace. Each LA has slightly different decision-making processes in this regard.

When you complete your setup form, we ask you to tell us which areas you wish to operate within. We will then refer this to each LA in order to gain their consent to feature your organisation within their local eMarketplace. As part of this process, the relevant LA may require you to provide further information in order to satisfy their requirements.

What is the difference between a "Directory" entry and a "Store"?

'Stores' are aimed at those organisations that are selling products and services that will be transacted via the s4s system. Examples are equipment, homecare or day services. Organisations with a Store are responsible for maintaining their Store, and will also receive online enquiries and purchase orders via the s4s system.

The Directory (which is sometimes also referred to as 'Local Groups & Activities') is aimed at everything else, which means that they are often free or only have a nominal cost associated with them. Examples are information entries, organisations providing free advice, support groups, local clubs and events such as coffee mornings. Organisations with a Directory entry don't receive online enquiries or purchase orders through the system, and there is therefore much less maintenance.

It will be appropriate for some organisations to have both a Store and a Directory entry. If you are in doubt about which type of entry is appropriate for your organisation, please contact the s4s helpdesk.

I've only got one product in my Store. How do I add more?

You can add more products via this online form.

I want to make a change to something in my Store or Directory entry. How do I do this?

Go to http://www.shop4supporthelp.com/hesk/ and click on "Submit a Ticket". Include details of the changes you wish to make. You will then be notified when the changes have been made.

My Store only has a catalogue showing my products and services?

We are currently rolling out the ability for each provider to have an "About Us" page that will include background details about their organisation, accreditations and user reviews.

How can I promote my store?

There are lots of ways, take a look at our Provider Marketing Resources page for some suggestions

Is there any guidance on how to write the content for my Store?

Yes. We have produced a flier called "How to Optimise Your Store". You can view this by visiting the Press and publications page.

I am a residential provider. What does this mean for me?

There is nothing to stop you including residential options within your store. However, this is not the primary focus of the eMarketplace. Accordingly, a number of residential providers are offering related services such as short breaks, respite and day opportunities which do sit well with the target audience.

I am a supporting people provider. What does this mean for me?

A number of LAs are now actively disaggregating block contacts for supporting people services, which means that the eMarketplace is an ideal way to promote these. In addition, the eMarektplace offers providers the ability to promote the other services they can provide and/or to diversify their business (e.g. those services that don't fall within the scope of supporting people and/or to those customers that are not eligible).

Why do I have to include a price?

We believe that it is critical for prospective buyers to have an understanding of the cost of a product/service in order that they can make informed decisions. However, we do understand that the final price may be tailored to individual's specific circumstances, hence providers are able to include the following statement (or similar) within their product description: 'Typical price is shown. Upon receipt of a request for more information, we will confirm a final price based on your specific requirements for you to consider before carrying on'. Please note that we cannot display "from" prices or "price upon request".

Can everyone see my prices?

Yes, your Store will contain your 'public catalogue' and can be viewed by anyone. It is possible to create 'private catalogues' for specific individuals or groups of individuals. Please contact the s4s helpdesk if you would like to discuss this option.

I charge different prices depending upon the individual's circumstances. Can s4s handle that?

Yes. Users will submit either a 'more information' request or a draft purchase order to you, based on the published price. You are able to respond to this, including the final price based upon the specific requirements of the individual. That price can only be seen by the specific user.

How do I transact via the system?

You will need to access the s4s Provider Portal. You only need to do this when you start receiving enquiries or purchase orders from users. You will need a username and password for this. Once you have your username and password, the process is easy and the system is user-friendly. We have produced a simple 'desk aid (1.25mb)' to guide you through.

I don't have a username or password for the Provider Portal?

You only need a username and password when you start receiving enquiries from users and /or transacting via the s4s system (i.e. you receive a purchase order). In order to prevent you from losing / forgetting your password, we only issue these once you receive your first enquiry / purchase order.

What does it cost?

For Directory entries, there is no cost whatsoever.
For Stores, there is no setup or registration cost, and there is no ongoing subscription cost. The system is funded by a transaction fee. The transaction fee is paid by providers as they are the major beneficiary of the platform and the service provided by s4s. In order to create a level playing field it has been set by the LAs at a flat rate of 2.5% of sales value in respect of self-funders and recipients of cash personal budgets. See question below in relation to other types of clients.

What is to stop me having a store and then circumventing the transaction fee by dealing with clients offline?

It is technically feasible to do this, if both you and the buyer wish to do so. However, the system is designed to provide benefits and efficiencies to both parties (that are absent if they deal with each other offline), so we would not expect this to be worthwhile. The opening of a Store on s4s includes acceptance of the process and s4s has the right to review the continued operation of any provider abusing the system.

Can I simply add 2.5% on to the current prices that we charge?

This is a matter for you to decide upon. The eMarketplace provides you with a number of benefits and there is a robust Business Case that underpins the transaction fee. We therefore don't think that it is necessary for you to add 2.5% on to your current prices, and doing so may make you uncompetitive. The team at s4s will happily help you understand the business case if you get in touch with them.

We already operate on a very tight margin. Will this reduce it further?

In the short-term, it should have minimal effect. The reason for this is that the transaction fee is only likely to apply to a small proportion of your revenues. Over the longer-term, the benefits that you receive (as built up in the Business Case) should more than cover the costs.

Is there a volume-related ratchet for the transaction fee?

No. The principle is that we want a level playing field for all providers whether large or small. However, a fee cap has been introduced in order to recognise that the transaction fee isn't wholly appropriate for high-cost packages of care (see below).

What is the fee cap?

We recognise that the transaction fee isn't wholly appropriate for high cost packages of care. Accordingly, total transaction fees in respect of any individual are capped at £300 in the first 12 month period, and £200 per annum thereafter.

What happens for all other clients (spend managed by the Council / LA-managed budgets)?

The 2.5% transaction fee only applies to self-service users (i.e. people with a cash budget/direct payment or those who fund their own care). If an LA decides to utilise the eMarketplace for spend that is managed by them, then the transaction fee associated with this will either be reduced or eliminated entirely.

How are fees collected?

Fees will become payable upon a User confirming payment of the invoice on the Site, and will be subject to VAT at the applicable rate. Invoices will be raised by s4s on a monthly basis wherever an amount of more than £2.50 is due, and will be settled by Direct Debit unless agreed otherwise.

Transaction Fees will be waived where payment of invoices occurs more than 6 months after the date the invoice was raised.

Who handles the physical payment?

The s4s system facilitates the process, but never handles any physical funds. If you choose to accept card payments, this will be done by PayPal, which s4s integrates with. Users can also pay manually (e.g. by cheque) or via other means (such as online banking).

How can I receive online payments?

There are a range of different merchant providers that you can sign up with which will enable you to receive debit and credit card payments. One of the simplest is PayPal, as this is very easy to setup and has no standing charges (although you will need to pay a merchant fee for each transaction). To set you up to accept payments via PayPal for things bought via CtS, all we need you to do is tell us the email address that is linked to your PayPal account. Sign up to PayPal.

Does s4s guarantee that we will receive payment?

No. Whilst s4s helps facilitate the transactional process, the contract is between the provider and the buyer (i.e. the individual or the entity managing their personal budget). The checks and balances within the s4s system help to make the debtor management process more efficient and effective, but responsibility for payment ultimately rests with the buyer.

Can I export invoice information from s4s to my finance system?

Yes. Please contact s4s for more details. However, bear in mind that it is only worthwhile doing this when you have a steady stream of transactions flowing through the system.

When will individuals start to use the system?

All parties recognise that this is a new way of working, and that it will therefore take time for the level of usage to build. We are currently working with all of our LA partners to develop a set of forecasts, which will be shared with providers in due course.

How can I get more help?

Each LA has a dedicated contact who will be able to answer any local questions. In addition, most LAs are running workshops and information sessions in their local area, so contact them (or s4s) to see if you can attend one of these. Alternatively, you can contact the s4s helpdesk (see below).

How do I contact the s4s helpdesk?

Our preference is that you submit any queries via our online ticketing system. To do this, go to http://www.shop4supporthelp.com/hesk/ and click on "Submit a Ticket". A member of the team will then respond to your query, and you can monitor the status of it online. Alternatively, you can email us at info@shop4support.com or call us on 0333 600 6330 (lo-call rate).