// WhatsApp partners with Watford Borough Council to create the UK’s first “WhatsApp High Street”
// The scheme sees retailers running their customer communications via WhatsApp Business
// WhatsApp is providing local retailers with training on WhatsApp Business App, to help them connect with & inform customers
A new partnership has been announced to launch the first “WhatsApp High Street” in the UK.
The instant messaging app has joined forces with Watford Borough Council to support small businesses and retailers in the town.
The initiative will help firms promote their businesses on the WhatsApp Business app, which acts as a shopfront for products, services and information.
- 14,000 shops have shut down so far in 2020, a 25% increase on 2019
- High street bloodbath sees 125,000 job cuts since start of 2020
- Retailers protected from evictions until 2021 as gov’t extends ban
The app also helps businesses communicate with their customers during the challenges presented by Covid, such as managing social distancing in small premises, new opening hours, stock issues, table reservations or reduced menus.
WhatsApp said that in the pilot programme its experts would provide training for an initial group of 12 local businesses on Market Street, Watford.
The announcement comes as new research commissioned by WhatsApp and YouGov reveals that 65 per cent of small retailers have experienced a drop in footfall to their premises since the pandemic first struck.
“I’m delighted a global brand like WhatsApp has chosen to work with us on this initiative, which is the first of its kind in the UK,” Watford mayor Peter Taylor said.
“Local businesses are vital to our economy, bringing jobs and so much character to our town. We are committed to working with them to ensure Watford’s economy succeeds as we open up after a difficult period of lockdown.”
Small business minister Paul Scully said: “It’s great to see small businesses using innovative digital tools like WhatsApp Business to help them adjust how they engage with their customers.”
WhatsApp partnerships manager Dan Lenan said: “As high streets all over the country struggle with the economic downturn and with the huge challenges presented by coronavirus, it is more important than ever for us all to support local businesses and keep our high streets alive and thriving.
“Whether it’s helping a retailer fulfil online orders, a restaurant to become a takeaway or a beauty salon to communicate social distancing rules, the WhatsApp Business App can help people steer their business through these difficult times.”
with PA Wires