An innovative digital high street app developed in Wales to help flagging high streets across the country has been shortlisted for the people’s choice award at the Duke of York’s [email protected] event at Buckingham Palace on November 8th.
NearMeNow is the brainchild of former risk analyst turned maths teacher Victoria Mann, who has been supported by Welsh Government and is looking for further investment.
She said: “The app will unite and upskill independent retailers in the high street with the tools to fight back. Think of it as a WhatsApp for traders. As well as being my capital city, Cardiff is ideal because it’s renowned for its bustling arcades and independent traders, and hot on its heels we’ll be introducing NearMeNow to cities around the UK in 2019.”
Traditional retailers have generally been slow to adopt new technology, so the app will be welcomed by Cardiff’s thriving independents who can now showcase their shopfronts to the wider world. NearMeNow is working with the city’s Business Improvement District, FOR Cardiff to boost growth and promote success in the sector by making the app available to all independents across the city.
The cost-effective solution provides access to a one-off daily advert for just 99p and unlimited use of the app for just £199.99 for the entire year, with the app’s flexibility allowing traders to schedule, edit, and duplicate adverts online for maximum exposure.
At the touch of a button, NearMeNow notifies users of offers and deals available locally, when new stock has arrived, if a salon has a free appointment, or a restaurant a free table. It also provides two-way instant messaging between customer and high street business, which can be used as a small business food order and delivery mechanism, removing the need to pay expensive commission on other platforms, as well as giving shoppers the ability to complete financial transactions to secure goods and services.
Victoria came up with the idea in a hairdressing salon on a weekday morning, surrounded by four hairdressers and three empty chairs.
She said: “I thought there must be a way to fill those chairs and attract new customers at the same time. An app that would push out current shop front advertising into the palms of the hands of each smart phone user nearby. I knew it would benefit so many other businesses on the high street who need to get the word out to the local community and communicate with them on a responsive and immediate basis.”
Before hitting Cardiff, NearMeNow was piloted successfully amongst the flourishing independent retailers of nearby Cowbridge, when the market town officially became the UK’s first digital high street.
NearMeNow uses the latest AR technology, developed alongside CEMET (The Centre of Excellence for Mobile and Emerging Technology) at the University of South Wales. NearMeNow secured investment led by the Development Bank of Wales, and received backing from TownSquare’s Accelerator, NatWest’s Entrepreneurial Spark and Business Wales’ Accelerated Growth Programme for businesses with high growth potential.
Victoria was a finalist in the Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year category at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2018, and NearMeNow played a vital role in Cowbridge being named as a finalist in the Great British High Street Awards 2018.