Helping out the high street: new shopping app offers lifeline for retailers as Covid restrictions continue

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A new app which allows shoppers to buy online while supporting their local high street is being launched as British retailers get to grips with a third national lockdown.

MyStreet, which uses best-in-class artificial intelligence (AI) and Computer Vision (CV) to connect independent high street retailers with a wider pool of shoppers across the UK, has launched to help small businesses adapt to changing consumer shopping habits and support their online sales strategy at a time when the high street faces unprecedented challenges.

The first-of-its-kind app enables independent stores to create their own virtual shopfront and carefully matches the preferences of shoppers across the UK to retailers who stock similar products and services, helping business owners reach like-minded consumers beyond their usual catchment area.

For shoppers, MyStreet allows them to discover some of the best independent retailers across the UK and build their own personalised virtual high street featuring their favourite stores.

With a recent report showing the largest annual fall in clothes sales on record last year, the MyStreet app offers a potential lifeline for stores as their doors remain firmly shut due to Covid-19.

Richard Johnson, co-founder of MyStreet, said: “The latest national lockdown is yet another blow to thousands of independent retailers who were already struggling after a very difficult year. Alongside this, the pandemic has significantly accelerated the rate of digital transformation – more consumers are shopping online than ever, and we know that some small businesses are struggling to keep up.

“We’ve been developing MyStreet over the past year as a way of helping address the UK’s high street decline, and we know from our conversations with independents that they need support now to boost their digital presence and bridge the gap between online and offline.”

As well as connecting independent retailers with customers, MyStreet facilitates direct communication with shoppers via in-app messaging and live streams. ‘Expertise at the till’ sets high street retailers apart and the app will allow store owners to provide a personalised service including giving advice, reassurance on common themes like fit and materials, and discuss unique offers – giving less reasons for returns and facilitating lasting relationships.

Kate Bird, owner of Katharine Bird, one of the MyStreet founding retailers, said: “As we get to grips with a third national lockdown, we are having to quickly evolve and embrace the online proposition in order to reach our customers. Katharine Bird has created a reputation for highly tailored service and built up an extremely loyal customer base over many years – we’ve known some of our customers for decades and seen their children grow up and get married themselves. What MyStreet offered to us is an opportunity to have direct conversations with new and existing customers and offer the kind of high-quality service that our customers are used to, just virtually. The platform seemed to offer a unique proposition that is well suited to a boutique like ours.”

Charlotte Denn-Cironne, owner of Hackney-based What Mother Made and founding retailer of MyStreet, added: “I’ve been approached by various shopping websites in the past but none really stood out as being unique. When I heard about MyStreet, I was interested by the platform’s AI capabilities, which means that customers are more likely to discover new retailers that they haven’t heard about, and retailers all have the same chance to reach potential customers – rather than being skewed towards those that have the means to invest in paid-for product promotion.”

Retailers that are interested in signing up to the app can find out more here.

A dedicated app for retailers, MyStreet Pro, allows stores to list their products and services free of charge and complements and integrates seamlessly into existing e-commerce platforms. Retailers will receive tech support to create a profile and get their products online quickly and easily, with as little disruption to their day-to-day operations as possible.