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Loyalzoo – who the heck is Loyalzoo?…well you would like to know wouldn’t you?

For a start, we’re a London-based business with a global footprint. We support independent retailers and small chains and eateries and all those places which are the basis of your local community. Loyalty is our business. Keeping high streets and communities thriving and buzzing is the brilliant outcome of our digital platform.  

meet-loyalzoo

We’re definitely the most unique digital loyalty solution in the UK and our ambition is to be the number one choice for SMBs. This week we’re throwing open our doors and holding an investor meet & greet where we’ll be serving Loyalzoo cocktails and treats for our guests. Would you like to come along? You can sign up for the event here on Eventbrite.

You’ll be able to get to know the team behind the brand; Massimo Sirolla the Co-founder & CEO of Loyalzoo, who knows  his retail and loyalty business will be on hand along with Mark Ryan – Co-founder & non-executive director, Rhiannon Barnes – Growth & engagement manager, Andrew Campbell – Chief Technology Officer, and Iain Watt – Full stack developer. So if you’re interested in finding out about our typical customer, how we came to be or our plans for the future – someone will definitely be able to fill you in.

We also have major plans for the business which is why we’re raising a big £500,000 investment at the moment. A large part of this is through our third crowdfunding campaign which is now live on Seedrs and has started off with a bang. For more information, head to www.seedrs.com/loyalzoo3

If you’re an existing, new or potential investor, come along and meet the team to hear our story and our plans. We look forward to welcoming you.

A recent survey* done by AXA Business Insurance have found that more than 60% of Britain’s shoppers have lasting relationships with their local stores and that they are much less loyal when it comes to their supermarket shopping.

But what makes local shops stand out? One in four answered that they like knowing the shop owners and the staff by name. They also responded that they like being able to order ‘the ususal’ in their local shops. Not all business sectors are treated equally though – the sectors we report the highest level of loyalty to are hairdressers, newsagents and butchers. It comes as no surprise that we are loyal to our hairdressers and butchers – the products and the service they provide are largely based on trust. As a bonus, shoppers appreciate the benefits independent shops bring to an area; over 70% say they think local shops adds to the character of a place, and almost 1 in 5 say the are prettier on the high street than the chains.

Another factor in our seeming preference for local shops is the nostalgia tied to high streets as they used to be – with a varied selection of specialist shops. These days high streets have a higher level of sameness; the same shops are found on every high street across the country.

An unsurprising 88% say they are not loyal to the supermarkets; price and convenience is the driving factor when they decide where to shop. 1 in 4 say they would change if a different store opened nearer to where they live or work – indicating location is an important factor for customers when choosing where to shop.

The survey also lists the top 10 businesses we are most loyal to;
1. Hairdresser
2. Newsagent
3. Butcher
4. Baker
5. Greengrocer
6. Florist
7. Shoe shop/Cobbler
8. Clothes store
9. Fishmonger
10. Book shop.

Interestingly the list consists only of specialist shops – big supermarkets combining clothes, furniture and groceries are nowhere to be seen despite their ‘all-in-one solution’ and, often, car friendly locations. It is an interesting contrast to the picture often presented in media, where we tend to see a focus on consumers being disloyal and focused only on price, largely influenced by online shopping.

Online shopping may be convenient and easy – but British consumers still seem to put their loyalty with their local shops, appreciating familiarity and what these shops bring to the community.

*See the original survey here.

Black Friday is the day after American Thanksgiving, the fourth Thursday on November, and has in the last decade become the biggest shopping event of the year. Major retailers are eager to kick of the holiday shopping season which means Black Friday is a day for spectacular offers, leading to masses of spend-thrifty shoppers hitting the stores. It is comparable to Boxing Day as is observed by Britain and much of the commonwealth.

Black Friday is becoming increasingly more important for business this side of the pond too –  news channels are already reporting extreme conditions in shops and supermarkets due to the masses hunting the best offers.

The term Black Friday has several possible origins; one stems from Philadelphia in the 1960s, the term used to describe the huge masses of pedestrians the day after Thanksgiving. An alternative explanation refers to Black Friday as the start of profit making – the first day shops go from the red to the black in the books (from loss to profit). Both explanations make sense; masses of shoppers looking for good deals naturally lead to good results for retailers.

In America retailers traditionally open their doors extra early on Black Friday – as early as 5 or 6 am is not uncommon and camping outside the shops to be the first ones in was popular to the degree that the practice got banned as a result of the safety risk this posed – with masses of people blocking roads, access to hydrants and emergency exits.

With many retailers offering some serious discounts – often around 70% – there is no wonder the day has become exceptionally popular with both retailers and consumers, perfectly timed to start the shopping for the upcoming season.

If you’re headed out there, we suggest you brace yourself with a triple fill of patience, sharp elbows and optimism. Think of it as the Hunger Games of shopping – you need to be clever and strong and persevere in times of difficulty (ie. when you are trapped in a flood of moving shoppers going the opposite way you want, when the toddler behind you decides to test his or her lung capacity or when the staff is demonstrating How Not to be Efficient – a treat often saved for the busiest of times!).

Happy shopping!

Anyone living near a high street or remotely interested in tech will have noticed the new wave of shop-apps. Apps that let you pay without cash or a bank card. They’ve been around for a while – best known is perhaps Starbucks’ own app. Now it seems other businesses are clocking on – thinking tech is the way to go to be able to compete for customers in an increasingly dense and overwhelming market. Read more

Back in the day, the high street was the place to go. It was a place for specialist shops with knowledgeable staff, and anyone looking for quality products went there to do their shopping. This was before the digital age, and the remise we have experienced in the last couple of decades is partly to do with this. Another factor is that many councils seem desperate to maximise their revenue from parking, which makes shoppers less likely to travel to their high street as parking anywhere near costs an extortionate amount. The affordable options tend to be impractically distant.

The remaining shops on the high street are the big brands. Across every town, every village and even larger cities, there are a select few brands which seem immune to the infection that is killing the rest of them.

Typically, a British high street consists of the following:
  1. A small number of shops, all massive brands. Known by everyone, inspiring to no-one.
  2. Empty, closed up shops. Because rent and parking costs make it difficult to keep a business alive.
  3. Charity shops. Charity shops are great and do lots of good, but the reality is they aren’t exactly known for their attraction-value to your average shopper.
  4. Pubs and coffee shops (most of them also chains).
A vicious circle

Shoppers don’t go to their high street because they don’t want to pay for parking, and for many people there are options that are easier to reach. As a result, shops close down. With fewer shops and more empty shop windows, the high street is even less appealing to those who might be inclined to go despite the parking costs. And the shops that are left, can be found elsewhere and also online.
For independent shops, staying on the high street is a struggle. Only big brands seem to have the means to stay – covering the high rates that the high street demands.

Shop locally

At the core of the Loyalzoo mantra is supporting local business. We love our neighbourhood, our former neighbourhoods, our friends’ neighbourhoods and yours, too. Local communities offer diversity and liveliness that once was a trait of the high street – because it is made up of smaller, specialist shops, often owned by passionate individuals whose eyes are lit up when they talk about their interests. Talking to shop owners who care about what they do, is inspiring, and a very different experience to that walking into a multimillion business which is the same wherever you go. And these days, due to the rates, the high street has little room for merchants like that.

For some people, the high street is their local area. And for them, and everyone else, it should work as a vibrant, social hub, crammed with shops, cafes, life and soul. Politicians keep talking about saving the towns and the villages – saving the high street would be a good step towards this. By making it appealing to the local people to use their local high street, they are less likely to drive for miles to another super-mega-hyper market which has everything you need available in one massive, sterile and uniform environment.

Support your merhcant

The most important thing to do is to support the shops you like. Whether they are on your town high street or across the road from your house. Make use of your neighbourhood cafes, bakeries, hair salons and butchers. As much as 70% of what you spend in an independent shop goes straight back to the business – so if you care about your local shop, this is an easy choice to make. The big ones manage on their own – it is the small ones that need help, and the small ones that can truly make a difference to the life and soul of a community. And fingers crossed they will manage a return to the high street, bringing with them some much needed life and soul.