Retailers and shoppers in Somerset urged to get online

Somerset has one of the lowest rates of digital activity among local retailers and shoppers in England, according to new statistics.

According to The UK Digital Influence Index, which calculates the digital output of a town or city based on the social media activity of its retailers and consumers, the county has an average ranking of 795.

The index measures the digital influence of over 1,300 towns and cities across the UK daily. ‘Digital influence’ is the ability of any town or city to drive measurable outcomes from online channels to their high street.

Somerset’s highest appearance on the index was Bath at 92, which features well behind other Heritage Cities like Chester (23), Lincoln (31) and Oxford (58).

Its lowest ranking came from Stoke-Sub-Hamdon which landed near the bottom of the index at 1300.

To increase their digital influence – and footfall – shoppers and retailers in towns and cities across the UK are joining #WDYT (What Do You Think), a collaborative campaign which works to connect retailers and consumers digitally, with the aim of converting this into increased footfall.

People are asked to share a photo each day of their favourite item of stock or something they love when out shopping to share across their social media channels, using #[Town], i.e #Bath and #WDYT. In the same post/tweet they are also asked to tag in the relevant retailer’s social account handle. By doing this shoppers then have an opportunity to win their favourite thing.

Polly Barnfield OBE, CEO and Founder of Maybe* which runs #WDYT, said: “With the increasing culture of online shopping, reviews and research, retail is now a 24/7 experience. The use of digital channels influences 78% of purchase decisions.  Embracing these channels can reap significant benefits for both individual retailers and their combined towns and cities.”

The campaign launched in Gloucestershire in 2016 and has helped the county rise quickly up the rankings, with both Cheltenham and Gloucester now ranked in the top 20 towns and cities in the country.

Since February 2017, the campaign has also gone live in another seven towns and cities throughout the country. The data collected is being linked with local footfall devices to reveal the impact of digital influence on local footfall.

A further 15 towns and cities are also in discussions to go live, prior to a nationwide roll-out later this year.

Diane Savory, OBE DL, Chair of GFirst LEP, said: “In becoming digitally savvy, local businesses can join forces to drive footfall into towns and cities, dynamically changing our local economies.

“The rate of change for businesses in the digital world is accelerating rapidly which means we must adapt. We have pioneered a blueprint in Gloucestershire that others can adopt. All UK towns and cities need to embrace the increasingly digitally connected consumer.”

Polly added: “The pilot campaign was a huge success, engaging with over 200 retailers and over 50,000 consumers all using #WDYT – we are here to help all retailers across the UK drive local footfall through digital channels.”

To get involved with #WDYT both business owners and their customers can simply post pictures to Twitter or Instagram using #Town (i.e #Bath) and #WDYT and, where possible, @mention the local business too.

The UK Digital Influence Index is available for all 1300 UK towns. To see where your town or city ranks and for more information about the #WDYT campaign, see www.wdyt.org.uk

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