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Gloucester becomes first British city to introduce ‘digital high street’ technology

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The cathedral city of Gloucester has become the first UK city to become a digital high street – hot on the heels of Mansfield, which was the first UK town to go down this road, if you’ll pardon the pun – transforming the city’s main shopping areas, linking a mobile app and touch screen kiosks to an offer-focused website and is being complemented by a new local card.

The subscription-based system, powered by Midlands technology firm, Rewarding Visits has been designed to drive footfall, raise awareness of the city’s businesses and increase consumer spending. Launched on 31 March, the scheme attracted 1,800 registrations in the launch weekend and been adopted by over 70 retailers who have around 120 live offers and promotions between them.

As part of the initiative, Marketing Gloucester has chosen to launch its new GL Card, using Rewarding Visits’ “Community” platform. This package provides a city, or town, with its own card, mobile app and website which can be branded locally. For workers, residents and visitors to Gloucester, the GL Card and GL Card App provide the opportunity for the city’s retailers, eateries and attractions to run promotions and build individual customer databases.

Rewarding Visits has also been responsible for installing eight GL branded Touchpoints touch screen kiosks across the city, where visitors can see retailers’ advertisements and print vouchers for redemption at participating businesses, using their card or app. Local companies can add offers and promotions to the platform in a matter of minutes, enabling cardholders to view them immediately online, on a Touchpoint, or through the mobile app.

Guy Chatburn of Rewarding Visits, which was one of three companies awarded funding by Innovate UK to develop innovative high street technology commented: “Marketing Gloucester has demonstrated a tremendous ‘can-do’ attitude and are doing an excellent job promoting the centre as a digital showcase city.

“We are extremely confident that long-term, the GL Card will positively impact the city’s diverse business community, drive footfall and also provide visitors to the city with an even more rewarding shopping experience.

Jason Smith, chief executive officer at Marketing Gloucester, added: “Gloucester is the ideal place to test their technologies from the point of view of physical environment, infrastructure and partners already operating in the city. This is a city where we present solutions, not problems, to businesses wanting to be involved and we welcome new partners.”

The company introduced its Touchpoints supporting an existing scheme in Sutton Coldfield in the summer of 2016, leading to an increase of 105% in retailer participation in the initiative. Shopper membership in the Sutton trial scheme has grown around 170% since early 2016.

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