Near Me … up until Now! 2014

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2014
 
Sitting in a hairdressers on a weekday morning. There were four hairdressers, myself and three empty chairs. My mind started wandering. How could I help this business generate revenue from these empty chairs? Why were they empty? Were they cancellations? Were they ‘no shows’? Was the hairdresser’s marketing ineffective? Was there advance warning? So, worst case scenario would be the assumption that the chairs had become available at short notice. So how could I help communicate that these chairs were available to existing and potential new customers?
 
The solution started forming <foaming> at the backwash. Some shops use an A-board stating ‘walk in prices are available’, but how could I help get the message out. The answer was in my hand – 75% of people in the UK owned a smartphone back in the day – now 85%. As the scissors trimmed and styled, the solution also started to take shape. A smartphone app that allowed a hairdresser to communicate last minute availability without having to discount during busy periods and thus maximising profit using the nature of supply and demand to price accordingly.
 
I wondered how many other businesses would benefit from being able to communicate with their community on a responsive and immediate basis. The butcher with and overstock of meat or the baker with a freshly baked batch of bread. Research ensued. Speaking to businesses about their advertising habits and missed opportunities. I described an app that would push their current shop front advertising beyond traditional boundaries, into the palms of the hands of each smart phone user nearby; sitting at home, in nearby coffee shops or those already on the high street looking to make the most efficient use of their time.
 
I then found myself in a classroom a few months later, teaching a group of four A-Level Business Studies students; one asked ‘Miss have you ever had a business idea?’. This was the first time I’d voiced my thoughts. They fell silent and one-by-one the kids started describing how they would use this un-named app with phrases such as ‘I would use it to find out if there were last minute cinema seats’ and ‘My sister would use it in the beauty salon she works in, they’re always quiet and looking for ways to attract customers’.
 
One butcher described situations where he used Facebook to try to promote perishable stock that needed to be sold, but that he found Facebook ineffective as the message was lost in people’s newsfeeds and they would also have to be subscribed to his page unless he chose the expensive route of paying for advertising. Customers ready to shop would not naturally look to Facebook whilst shopping locally and would miss the opportunities. The alternative would be visiting the Facebook, Instagram or twitter page of every business on the High Street before leaving the location.
 
NearMeNow is a platform accessed via a Smartphone App that brings communities alive in a digital way; bringing all local business together in one place online to help harness their collective power. Driving each individual shop’s digital footfall through the same app, to ensure that a community of businesses benefit from each other’s digital footfall and thus driving actual, real world footfall:
 
“Digitally Targeted Footfall: real-world footfall generated by strategic advertising through the NearMeNow Digital High Street app that results in real-world customers travelling to the location of the advert.”