High Streets Initiative Fred Heritage · 26 April 2017
PocketHighStreet founder believes in democratising? the digital high street
Imagining what the future digital high street should look like was the starting point for Alex?Schlagman, founder at PocketHighStreet. Together with his business partner in 2014, the entrepreneur set out to make a tool with a far simpler concept than his eventual creation. His original idea was to build a simple, click and collect, online retail marketplace, but once hed started, Schlagman soon realised he could go further, and PocketHighStreet a digital high street was born. Bridging the gap between ecommerce and local high street retailers, PocketHighStreet has been designed as the missing link? for independent business owners, those who havent quite yet mastered how to market themselves and their products to customers beyond their local area. Explaining the thought process behind launching the platform, Schlagman said that it was simply in recognition of the retail industry moving into a new phase. Everyone recognises it, but so far, not many people have done anything about it, added the entrepreneur. as consumers, were increasingly living our lives on our phones. Online shopping is now the norm, which has become a universal problem for retailers, both the big ones and the small ones. local independent retailers often have unique products people want to buy, but they don’t know are there. We all want to shop locally more, and PocketHighStreet is about promoting those unique products where people are more likely to see them online. In Schlagman’s view, the benefits of the digital age have so far failed to filter down to high street level, but with digital high street initiatives like PocketHighStreet, that should soon change. By further democratising? the whole digitisation of retail, as Schlagman puts it, local retailers can remain on the front foot and stay relevant in this highly competitive sector. Exposing local retailers has been the driving force behind PocketHighStreet. However, the fact that some of the country’s larger retailers have been in touch with Schlagman about his progress with the platform has told him that an industry-wide approach, involving all types of retail business, is what’s increasingly needed for a new-look industry to grow that’s fairer for all. Schlagman went on to say: Weve been engaging more and more small firms, many of which the bigger retailers want as their suppliers, so theyve absolutely been interested in what were doing. bigger shops and supermarkets are struggling with footfall, just the same as local high street retailers, added Schlagman. Another general concern, common to most retailers, is the increasing costs of keeping bricks and mortar premises. it’s a different ballgame entirely to owning an out-of-town warehouse, like most e-retailers the business rates revaluation is just the latest headache for those on the high street to keep premises up and running. Schlagman told Business Advice that his duel-track approach of getting the high street to more people, and more people to the high street? is what could make his platform a vital tool for local retailers in the age of the digital high street. By signing up to PocketHighStreet, smaller local shop owners get a chance to market their products to a wider audience of potential new customers via the platform’s growing database of media partners, including business directories, voucher sites, online marketplaces, ad networks, shopping apps, newspapers, magazines, bloggers and social influencers. Once their brand or product has been picked up and featured on the site of a PocketHighStreet partner any products these smaller retailers choose to sell online become available to buy via a click and collect service, with a one-hour delivery time. At present, nearly 500 local independent retailers have signed up to PocketHighStreet, and Schlagman has big plans for the platform’s future.
ABOUT THE EXPERTFred Heritage
Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.