Following the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are now tentatively starting to open their doors again hoping to regain lost footfall and much needed sales. Now however, one Durham based digital entrepreneur is driving customers back to the High Street using the latest APP technology.
Former jockey Andrew Bartlett (23) has developed the ROAM APP which gives users essential information about shops and services based on their GPS location. Using state of the art algorithms and data collection techniques, the APP gives the user the feeling of being a “local” shopper with up to date offers, opening times and the ability to order items to collect instore or delivery direct to a home address.
For business users, the APP shares offers, menus, news and loyalty deals direct to their customer base via the customer’s mobile phone. In effect, ROAM becomes a businesses’ own APP without the expensive development costs. The platform is free and sends customers onto the High Street – a reversal from the common misconception that digital sales are ruining town centre and High Street sales as Andrew Bartlett explains:
“I firmly believe that the High Street still has an important part in the retail economy. We’ve seen a trend towards online sales particularly during the Pandemic but nothing can beat personal customer service or the ability to see, demonstrate or try on the goods we buy. Digital is the solution to the decline of local shopping not the enemy and ROAM brings together APP technology with bricks-and-mortar businesses.
“I believe that every town and city is unique and full of potential. I want to shine a spotlight on the independent culture of those places and help businesses grow and thrive. ROAM helps evolve the digital footprint of towns and cities encouraging people to shop local, build stronger local economies and provide further opportunities for those who live and work there.”
With a lifelong love of animals, Andrew found himself working with some of the country’s leading horse trainers including Alan Swinbank and showjumper Harvey Smith. During his time as a jockey and later as a trainer, he mixed with many business people and became interested in the technology behind their successes.
Over a number of months, he studied computer coding and APP development, built websites and experimented with ideas to improve business performance. The result was ROAM which was three years in development and is available on both iOS and Android devices and is free for both businesses and consumers to use. The APP now has more 80,000 users in the UK.
Regenerating the High Street isn’t the only practical application of ROAM. The APP has the ability to monitor where members of the public are gathering within retail outlets so that people can avoid crowds or queues while social distancing remains in place. After the Pandemic, the functionality gives the public up to date information so that they can see which businesses are busy or quiet and make informed decisions about when and where they shop.
ROAM works hand in hand with Andrew’s vision to get people to shop local. His current focus is on Durham City where he plans to include every business in the city in the APP.
“Durham is a fantastic place to shop with unique boutique shops, a thriving indoor market and a setting like no other city full of awesome architecture and history. It’s a tourist destination too and the APP pulls in information, opening times, images and maps on places of public interest including bars, restaurants, clubs, hotels and gyms and a whole lot more, tailored to individuals interests to help people plan a day or night out – whatever the occasion.”
“From a safety viewpoint it also allows individuals to share their location with groups so that they can stay together and plan their trips and by understanding behavioural patterns amongst friends, the APP can send out safety alerts to the rest of a group if someone strays away or gets lost.
“ROAM will revolutionise the way we shop on the High Street and I’m delighted to be able to help in the recovery process from the COVID-19 Pandemic that has decimated the retail sector.”
Users and businesses can download the APP free from https://roam-local.co.uk/