Abingdon Regional Networking Event, 5th October 2017

Attendees at the event heard presentations from Maybe*, Design JD and City Dressing. These covered the following topics:

Digital Influence

Drawing people into town

“Experience” as a driver to bring people into town

And the presentations can be viewed by clicking on the links.  Following this, a round-table discussion was held on the problems facing Abingdon (and therefore other town centres) on drawing people into town.

The challenges and problems identified included:

  • People coming in to town for events, but not to shop, or they spend money at events, not in shops
  • The need to change the behaviour of visitors
  • The challenge of getting businesses to work together
  • How to stop businesses getting disillusioned
  • Why would people come to Abingdon?
  • Independent shops are closing
  • The town needing to reinvent itself
  • The lack of control over type of ‘shops’ opening
  • People love it but don’t use it
  • 42% of indie retailers have no online presence
  • 93% of indie retailers have no online sales capability
  • Businesses are using different online and social media platforms so communications and marketing are not joined up
  • Businesses need to share events on social to promote themselves and others

Some of the possible solutions, or ideas for consideration included:

  • Spreading events out to cover more than just the Market Place or town centre
  • Businesses getting stalls at markets
  • Trails (for example an “ice trail”) that encourage visitors to explore around the town
  • Giving maps a scale “it’s only a 2-minute walk,” rather than simply putting a distance
  • Craft hubs – 6 businesses working together
  • Mystery shopping to allow promoting the town and offering the perception of businesses working together, even if they’re not
  • People do want to open businesses – how can we make it easier for them?
  • Acknowledging that small businesses are very different to medium businesses
  • Tourism marketing – promote half day visits
  • Make it easy to visit, get in and get around towns
  • Shoptober- showcasing 60+ indie businesses
  • Audit all the media – understand what exists within a town and use it all!
  • Support of national organisations such as bira – helping independents work together
  • ‘Shopping events’ as well as ‘visiting events’
  • Text messaging service or private groups on Facebook or LinkedIn that small businesses are more likely to engage with and respond to

Following a short break, Made You Look showcased the importance of first impressions (click link for presentation) and how visual merchandising can make a difference to shops and to towns as a whole.