New Digital High Streets programme to boost local shopping launches in St Helens

02 Nov 2021


A new programme with the objective of attracting shoppers back to town and district centres in St Helens Borough  by harnessing digital technology has been launched by the council

The initiative, Local Rewards, a collaboration between St Helens Borough Council, St Helens Chamber and social media specialists, Maybe* Tech – aims to help businesses 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 launch featuring over 500 high street businesses from across the region.

Funded  by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Town Centre Fund, 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’ between local retailers and giants like Amazon. Businesses can also cross-promote and support their high street neighbours to create an online network of connected traders.

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 city.

The Local Rewards programme, which goes live this week, already features over 2,400 businesses from across the area. Data within the technology shows that across the St Helens Borough Council area around 1,500 high street businesses use social media, which represents around 20% of bricks and mortar businesses in the local authority.

Of those retailers on social media less than a third are active, posting most days. Research conducted by Maybe* Tech suggests around 66% of consumers spend three hours per day using social media.

Councillor Kate Groucutt, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Business, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic and a shift in consumer behaviour has changed the way we shop. This programme with Maybe* Tech looks to support our high street businesses to adapt to a new way of shopping.

“Maybe* Tech provide extensive support through training and tools for all types of businesses and we hope our local economy take up this exclusive offer of free support for the first 12 months.”

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 with giants like Amazon,” 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 St Helens area.”

St Helens Borough Council has subsidised 1,000 Maybe* Tech memberships for high streets businesses for 12 months to help them get back on their feet following COVID-19 restrictions.

High Street businesses and shoppers can access the Local Rewards programme online 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.