The digital revolution is upon us. The future of how we live our lives and carry out daily activities is being shaped and determined by new apps and technologies. Digitisation is exciting and ambiguous to most of us, but what about small businesses on the high street? After nearly two years of increased difficulty facing shops, it's time that these shared spaces evolve to accommodate for the re-opening and re-energisation of shopping activity nationally.
Digital Technologies inform how we look at shopping and engage with the high street daily, weekly and monthly. Information and communication technologies can provide smaller businesses with the opportunity to retain the independence and flexibility of being a business on top of the range of access and scope available to much larger companies. Software applications and social media can enable small or one-person ventures to collaborate, co-operate and coordinate with independent workers and upcoming companies separated by spatial or social geography, all the while maintaining a distinct identity within the context of their local high street.
The Evolving High Street
The digital transformation undergoing high-streets across the UK has timed with the rise of easy-to-order online platforms offering efficient online delivery services for customers. In the wake of the past two years worth of international events, the new high-street needs to adapt. This time we must look at the image of the 19th/20th-century high street, conceptualised as a means of inducing connectivity among businesses and the local community.
Instead, the new digital frontier shines a light on the role of cultural, social and spatial aspects related to entrepreneurial processes and outcomes. Digital applications have become the solution to new challenges posed toward high streets across the UK and beyond.
Key Benefits of Implementing a ‘Digital Blueprint’ on the high street
Being in a better position to understand how customers interact with individual businesses and the broader high-street will allow you to visualise movement and footfall, particularly in the form of touchpoints outlined below:
Digital touchpoints are crucial for informing customers planning their visit to a town centre, high street or individual business. The information provided in the pre-visit phase will define whether the customer will visit or not visit the location, all while providing invaluable information on the visitor experience available to the customer. For example, suggesting a visit to the town centre/high street through promotional activities such as event notifications or retail and product launches will help establish pre-visit intentions.
During-visit touchpoints are significant for helping combine the physical and digital aspects of the shopping journey to create a cohesive, holistic experience for the customer. An intuitive mobile application is fantastic for recommending lesser-visited businesses across the town, all the while providing promotional offers, event suggestions and social media integration to users.
Like pre-visit touchpoints, post-visit touchpoints can be pivotal for laying out customer spending levels throughout town centres. The post-visit stage of the process can allow customers to engage with and reflect on their visit, which subsequently will shape their revisit intentions.
What can you do as a council or small business?
Digitally integrating your business is the next step to improve your performance, especially as more and more potential customers will look toward an online presence to check on the services you offer. Customers need to feel connected to your brand, so it is beneficial to set a precedent for that relationship through digital communication platforms like social media or your website.
When utilised respectfully and with customer privacy in mind, data needs to be analysed to benefit both the customer and business. It is understandable how a digital transformation could be daunting for your retail business or high street. We live in a data-driven society where information on the consumer has become a key focus for various large corporations and companies. That is why it is beneficial to choose a digital solution that understands the importance of customer privacy. For example, our XplorIT software at Data Duopoly seeks to enhance the experience for both the business and customer, respectfully collecting only the most valuable data while guaranteeing customer anonymity.
Connect with other businesses!
Going back to our point on connectivity earlier, we believe that customers respond well to shopping at a business that feels like it belongs in a greater community.
The benefits of implementing a digital blueprint for the wider community will help your business thrive – a community supporting each other can be the real difference for establishing long-term shifts in footfall and profit across the entire street.
Through a digital framework that incites businesses to connect as a seamless online community - the high street will be in a position to benefit from valuable data that it will create. Creating a digital blueprint for the benefit of the high street will encourage a creative space for a wide range of stakeholders, ranging from local members of the community to innovative start-ups who will assist in the further development of the present (and future) digital services for the high street.
If you're a local council or business looking to innovate and improve your retail business or broader high street during the new year, please get in touch! You can contact us here, or feel free to reach out on Twitter @DataDuopoly!