What do you think are the primary challenges facing small & independent retailers today?
It’s a tough climate out there and small business owners often lack the time and resources to make the most of their marketing, particularly in the fast evolving digital world.
By joining together the expertise of our mobile and small business communications, we’ve developed ‘Priority Moments for Independent Businesses’ to help local retailers tackle this marketing challenge. It’s a free service enabling small local businesses to harness the power of digital, mobile and location-based technologies, to reach O2’s 23 million-strong customer network, building their brand, reaching new customers and rewarding existing ones.
What do you think the Government can do to ease the pressures on SMEs?
Small businesses have become the engine room of the UK economy worth an estimated £3.1 billion every year to the UK economy and employing 14.1 million people. However, more could be done by the government to help address the higher interest rates and increase the number of banks lending. This would help to reduce the effect on small business owners who are feeling the strain and having to work harder than ever.
We also believe there’s a responsibility for big businesses to lend the right support to small companies by listening to customers, understanding their issues and offering practical support. We hope that Priority Moments for independent business will in some way help small companies to reach new consumers and increase their bottom line.
The Priority Moments service includes no charge from O2; how are you funding this initiative and what feedback did you receive from any trials undertaken prior to the rollout?
We see this as an evolution of our Priority service, which has been a fantastic opportunity for us to show customers the value we can add, and evoke loyalty. We also see the potential for us to provide a service to small businesses who are not O2 customers that will be impressed by it.
We also made the service free because we believe that big businesses have a key role to play in helping smaller players reach their full potential. Our network is our greatest asset and digital is what we do best – so with the new service, we hope to apply two of our biggest strengths to help some of these small businesses get into the world of digital marketing. We have also been trialling and developing the service with our customers to constantly finesse it. We know the service delivers rewards for both businesses and consumers.
What support is being offered to those involved to ensure that they provide a valuable and relevant offer to users?
The most important thing about the service is that it’s been built to fit the needs of small business. They are in complete control and flexibility over the offers and experiences they create – they can set the time, amount, day, quantity and timing of the offer and don’t have to commit to any set figure or compulsory price reduction. Users receive step-by-step guidance and support – which have been tested for effectiveness – to create the offers. We want to ensure peace of mind for even those small businesses that are unfamiliar with digital marketing.
How did the partnership with the BIRA come about and are there plans to expand the initiative further?
When we were conducting our recent research, looking at the issues that independent retailers face, BIRA was a natural fit when it came to choosing a partner. Given the work that it does with local high street business owners, its support has been invaluable in helping draw attention to the challenges that independent retailers are tackling.