A new programme to attract shoppers back to the High Street by harnessing digital technology has been launched in West Lindsey.
The initiative, Local Rewards, a collaboration between West Lindsey District Council and social media specialists, Maybe* Tech - aims to help businesses across the council area recover from the impact of COVID-19, by giving them the support they need to reach more customers and make more sales.
The programme will go live featuring 4,400 businesses from across the West Lindsey district and will offer free training and tools to companies looking to take part.
Leader of West Lindsey District Council, Cllr Owen Bierley urged businesses to sign up for the free support.
He said: “We are delighted to have brought Maybe Tech on board for the next 12 months to support our business. The impact of Covid 19 changed the way businesses operate and following discussions with local businesses we recognised that we needed to offer additional support. Maybe Tech has proved to be successful in other areas and we want our businesses to benefit too.”
Local Rewards allows businesses to communicate with, and reward shoppers when they hit the High Streets and has been created with the intention of ‘levelling the playing field’ through enhanced digital skills, enabling small businesses to have access to the same level of tools and know-how as big businesses with bigger budgets. Businesses can also cross-promote and support their High Street neighbours to create an online network of connected traders.
The Local Rewards programme already features over 6,900 businesses from across the region, data within the technology shows that in West Lindsey around 900 High Street businesses use social media.
Of those retailers on social media around 286 (31 per cent) are active, posting most days. Maybe* Tech insights suggest that the national average within a centre for regular posting stands at around 25 per cent, making West Lindsey businesses among the most active on social media, in the country.
Additional research conducted by Maybe* Tech suggests around 66% of consumers spend three hours per day using social media.
Nicola Brooksbank, CEO and founder of Nice & Naughty Cafe Bistro, in Market Rasen says:
“Since the pandemic I have noticed an increase in businesses working together for the greater good of the high street. We use each other’s shops as much as possible and promote each other. Rather than competition, we realise that our customers are one and the same, so the more we promote each other, the more we all see our takings double.
Social media is very important to my business. Not every like returns a sale, but the more you have the more sales you will get. We have doubled both our Instagram and Facebook followers since the pandemic, through targeted posts. We are also doing videos with the aim that we create a large following sharing our beliefs in community, healthy eating, and home-cooked food. This includes recipes and creating a story people can get behind and want to follow. Social media is a positive that can only be good for us all... when used correctly and in a targeted way. I'm looking forward to signing up to the programme and hope others will too."
The technology enables shoppers to see businesses near them, view and engage with their social media content and shop with them via Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
In addition, for every pound a shopper spends “in store” with a participating business they earn a point which can be used to claim rewards offered by local businesses across the county.
Every business that signs up to manage their listing on the Local Rewards High Street Guide will also have access to an extensive range of social media tools and training provided by Maybe* Tech.
Polly Barnfield OBE, CEO of Maybe* Tech said: “Around two thirds of shoppers regularly look online for inspiration and the Local Rewards programme groups all social media content by location to encourage people to browse their local high street and then rewards them for their local spend.”
“High streets need infrastructure that until now has only been available for online businesses and this programme will help local businesses level the playing field,” adds Barnfield.
“They need to communicate with shoppers in real-time and be able to showcase what’s available. In order to compete, High Street businesses need to up their digital game, promote their physical stores and collaborate. Our platforms help them collectively to do that and we are delighted to be working with businesses across every high street in the West Lindsey district.
High Street businesses and shoppers can access the Local Rewards programme online at https://www.localrewards.chat/ and can sign up to reap the benefits via Messenger or WhatsApp.
The platform has been developed to provide High Street businesses across all sectors, with access to social media, the tools and training to increase their customer base and drive sales. The Maybe* platform also provides practical suggestions and easy to use tools allowing organisations to connect with their audience, improve their return on investment and understand how to stay ahead of their competition.
The announcement comes just days after West Lindsey District Council has approved a new Economic Recovery Plan. Encouraging investment, supporting businesses, developing growth and employment opportunities and harnessing the potential of green recovery are the underpinning principles of the Council’s recovery strategy.
The Maybe* platform collates the data from 3.4 million businesses from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on a daily basis and provides engagement, insight and reporting tools that enable clients to increase their sales via social media.
Maybe* is a partner on the UK Government's High Street Task Force which is a 5-year project that supports High Street regeneration. Maybe* supplies the social media data for all UK Local Authority dashboards.
To help High Streets recover from COVID, the Maybe* team has created Guides for over 3,600 UK High Streets. Local Rewards. This is a nationwide program that provides free tools that connect shoppers, local businesses and places.