The Great British High Street goes digital

Posted on the 22nd March 2017

Communities Week 2017: Read about how Chipping Norton have embraced the world of apps to market their high street to shoppers.

In the digital age, most shoppers and tourists reach for their mobile phones before deciding how they’re going to spend their cash and leisure time.

That’s great news for high streets combining mobile apps with GPS technology and clever storytelling techniques to sate the appetites of information-hungry visitors.

Superdoodle - Chipping Norton
Superdoodle – Chipping Norton

From business directories to shopping apps and loyalty reward systems, mobile apps are relatively quick, easy and inexpensive to build. And they’re becoming a popular marketing tool for hundreds of UK towns and cities.

In Chipping Norton, about 20 businesses pooled their resources to fund a GPS mobile tour app to guide visitors to the pretty Cotswold town’s famous attractions, country trails and unique independent shops.

Superdoodle - Chipping Norton
Superdoodle – Chipping Norton

The app, Real Town Tours, is a venture started by three Experience Chipping Norton volunteers who are inviting places around the UK to promote their heritage, environment and businesses this way.

It’s a key element of the Experience Chipping Norton digital platform, which also includes:

  • An impressive new website generating 10,000 pageviews a month – launched in 2016 thanks to a collaboration between volunteers and funding from a MidCounties Coop community grant
  • Social media channels reaching 10,000 people every month
  • An email newsletter with about 1000 local subscribers
  • An online collaboration channel for volunteers to communicate.

All this in a town of little more than 6000 people.

Already, hundreds of Android and iPhone users have downloaded the app despite a tiny marketing budget.

Experience Chipping Norton chairman Shaun Fagan said: “Apps are a revolution for tourism, culture and heritage lovers and a cheap way for towns of all sizes to promote everything they can offer.

With more than 40 million mobile phone users in the UK, we thought it was a no brainer to give visitors to Chippy a snapshot of everything our town offers.

We don’t charge for people to download the app because we want visitors to enjoy the experience and stay a bit longer to engage with our local shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.”

Features of the Chipping Norton app include:

  • How visitors can get to the town by car, train or bus
  • Where to park their car
  • Which shops have free wi-fi­­­­­­
  • A GPS-guided map of the walk, which positions exactly where they are at any time

It also has explanatory audio and videos, 360 images, quizzes and additional information pages and built-in social media sharing so visitors can share their experience instantly.

The app works without an internet connection because all the content is downloaded before the user leaves home.

by Experience Chipping Norton

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