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St Albans gives new meaning to ‘window shopping’ with new app

Lee Hall

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St Albans gives new meaning to ‘window shopping’ with new app

Independent shops, restaurants, bars, hairdressers, and salons in the cathedral city of St Albans have become the first retailers in the UK to trial a revolutionary new technology. The purpose of the new app is to help both shops and shoppers in the current challenging climate. The technology is designed to help nervous customers feel safer when they are shopping and to give retailers with small shop spaces the capacity to accommodate more shoppers. 

Contactless Window Shopping is the brainchild of marketing consultant Jez Dutton from design consultancy That Happy Place. It involves placing tags in shop windows that shoppers can scan using their smartphones, taking them directly to the shop’s website where they can directly browse and buy from the shop’s range of products. 

This means customers can be inspired by the shop window but buy without even going into the shop if the shop is at capacity or they feel nervous. Orders are then delivered to the customer’s house. 

Restaurant and bar owners, along with hairdressers and beauty salons are also trialling this revolutionary technology, giving their customers the opportunity to directly book appointments through the tag in their premise’s window. 

Some 13 shops in St Albans have signed up so far including Gymboree, Headcase Barbers, Hers N Sirs, Eve & Adam, The Rug Maker, Cositas, The Dressing Room, Jago Jewellers, Refill Pantry, St Albans Museum & Gallery, and Kingshill Jewellers. 

The Dressing Room St Albans

The Dressing Room, one of 13 shops trialling the new shopping technology.

Talking about designing the new technology, Dutton said: “Right now, many independent high-street shops have been badly hit: they are either temporarily closed or they have to accommodate queuing outside, and both are terrible for business. However, they did have their shop windows and an online presence. And meanwhile everyone has quickly adopted contactless payment via their phones. 

“Out of this was created Contactless Window Shopping to ensure a fast, frictionless way of connecting the high-street presence to the online one: finding products, booking appointments, seeing opening hours, or even accessing menus. I’m delighted that St Albans is the first high street in the UK to roll this out and hopefully it will help many businesses get back on their feet sooner.” 

The St Albans Business Improvement District (BID), which represents 500 city-centre businesses, is spearheading the introduction of this technology. 

Co-chairs of the St Albans BID, Councillor Mandy McNeill, Portfolio Holder Business, Culture and Tourism, and Sarah Gillow, owner of luxury jewellers Galio, said: “We are delighted to be trialling this new technology to help shoppers shop safely and to support our independent businesses during this difficult time. 

“With some of our smaller shops having limited capacity for customers, this tech means that you can literally window shop with one tap from your smartphone.” 

What are your thoughts on how successful this could be and what other shops in St Albans would you like to see participating? Answers below…

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Local business launch “Brew for a Hero” campaign for NHS & key workers

Lee Hall

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Local business launch “Brew for a Hero” campaign for NHS & key workers

Harpenden based Twist Teas have announced their “Brew for a Hero” campaign is back! Launched to support and boost morale for NHS staff and key workers, the Brew for a Hero” campaign gives people a chance to show their appreciation for all the heroes from all walks of life during the current pandemic. This could be anyone – local postal workers, refuse collectors and cleaners, emergency services and health care staff, teachers and chefs, community groups and volunteers.

Local business launch “Brew for a Hero” campaign for NHS & key workers

You can participate in the “Brew for a Hero” by nominating a NHS or key workers hero you know. Nominate your hero and give them a chance to win one of Twist Teas Rainbow inspired tea caddies. If you know a key worker, that you would like to surprise with a personalised Rainbow Caddy of tea, simply email your nominations to hello@twist-teas.co.uk. Please include a brief reason, as to why they deserve a little treat. Twist Teas will again be tasked with the difficult job of picking winners, to be announced on the 31st of January.

Local business launch “Brew for a Hero” campaign for NHS & key workers

Twist Teas will also be making caddies available to purchase via their website with profits going to NHS Charities. More information about Twist Teas can be found in our interview with founders, mother and daughter duo Nicky Kavanaugh & Claire Ayers.

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Watford businesses to decide on the future of Watford BID

Lee Hall

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Welome to Watford - Watford BID

Watford BID have launched a video highlighting the reasons why they believe they deserve a second 5-year term. Many residents in Watford are aware of Watford BID but not many understand exactly what they do and more importantly, how integral their work is to the success of Watford.

What is a BID and why are they so important?

Essentially, a BID (Business Improvement District) is a business-led and business funded body formed to improve a specific area in which a levy is charged on all business rate payers. This levy is used to develop projects and provide services which benefit businesses in the local area. This can include:

  • Activities to increase visitors to the area
  • Reducing overall business costs for levy members
  • Marketing and promotion of the area such
  • Lobbying councils/local government
  • Working with local police to reduce anti-social behaviour

There is no limit on what projects or services that can be provided through a Business Improvement District. Some BIDS are more effective at certain tasks than others for a number of reasons but overall, the benefits BIDs offer to the various towns across Beds, Bucks & Herts is immeasurable.

Three reasons for Watford BID to get renewed

We have selected what we believe are the three main reasons why Watford BID should get renewed.

1. Watford BID offers a central point of contact

At a time when the Government don’t know if they are coming or going, having a central point for all information relating to Watford offers residents, visitors and business owners a much-needed level of clarity. Social distancing procedures and safety communication both need harmonisation to keep Watford Town safe.

Watford BID have been extremely informative on Social Media and in the district sharing key information such as this statement on the national lockdown from the Mayor of Watford.

intu Watford outlines how it will keep people safe

Typically a Business Improvement District is within a local authority boundary but in April 2013 government introduced Cross Boundary Business Improvement Districts enabling Business Improvement Districts to operate across local authority boundaries.

2. Watford Restaurants & Bars will need support after the lockdowns end

Promoting Watford’s entertainment venues post-covid is going to need a lot of collaborative support post covid. Individual businesses taking to to social media to posts and update Facebook is not going to tempt the same numbers back to the district’s nightlife venues.

By having one organisation working alongside all the venues to promote Watford as an entertainment destination, visitors will hear one concise message that Watford is open for business.

Watford Bars are going need the support of Watford BID to boost footfall post-covid

3. Think of the benefits for residents and visitors

There have been calls for BIDs across The Three Counties to do more by some levy payers but in fairness, the amount of work involved in some of the projects is not to be underestimated such as launching The Watford Gift Card.

It is also important to understand that alongside promoting what’s on in Watford and things to do in Watford, the organisation is a key source for useful information for those living in and visiting Watford.

Welome to Watford - Watford BID

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Could this be the biggest clue for a Five Guys in Stevenage?

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Could this be a big clue for a Five Guys in Stevenage

Regardless of lockdowns and coronavirus, people want food. Fans of Five Guys could be getting a late Christmas present with a new Five Guys in Stevenage. A recent job post on the Five Guys recruitment page for a General Manager in the Stevenage area has got locals excited about the possible arrival of the much loved American Chain.

Could this be the biggest clue for a Five Guys in Stevenage?

Could this be the biggest clue for a Five Guys in Stevenage?

Spotted by an eagled eyed member of ‘Stevenage Chit Chat‘, the advert for a General Manager drops a few clues at a possible opening of a Five Guys in Stevenage.

Google Treasure Map highlighting a empty unit perfect for a Five Guys in Stevenage

Unit 10 appears empty on Google Maps

Clue No.1 for a Five Guys in Stevenage – The perfect scene

Nothing cements a clue in a mystery more than a location. The recruitment team have placed a X on the spot and that is 51°54’02.4″N 0°12’33.7″W. For all the normal people reading this, that is Unit 10 in Stevenage Leisure Park. This was home to Pizza Hut since late 2002 but this recent Google treasure map shows the unit is currently empty.

Clue No.2 for a Five Guys in Stevenage – A job for an ‘accomplice’

Did we mention there is a second job advert for a ‘Assistant Manager? If one job advert was not enough proof, two should be enough to convince you that plans are afoot for a Five Guys in Stevenage.

Clue No.3 for a Five Guys in Stevenage – A motive

What more motive do you need than hungry people in Stevenage in need of a good burger? A Five Guys in Stevenage is well overdue. It could even tempt Sir Lewis Hamilton back to Stevenage.

 

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