In a world of online shopping, adopting digitalisation is one of the biggest challenges facing small high street businesses. Victoria Mann, Founder and CEO of NearMeNow is leading the charge in the revival of Welsh high streets by empowering businesses and communities to build smart digital towns. Ahead of the launch of the brand-new product VZTA, we are taking a closer look into Victoria’s journey of becoming a high street hero.
NearMeNow all started with a vision to bring people together and better connect the high street with consumers. Sparked by a visit to the hairdressers, Vicky Mann saw first-hand how businesses were unable to easily, and effectively, connect with their own customers. An experienced senior analyst within the finance industry, Victoria founded NearMeNow in 2017 and has worked with hundreds of stakeholders since then to understand the underlying digital needs of our high streets and the businesses within them.
Small businesses often don’t understand and are unable to exploit digital technologies to the extent of larger businesses. Digital infrastructure is crucial to the future of high streets and town centres; it is as important as our highways, roads, and pavements. With the digital gap widening in rural, post-industrial, and coastal towns, Victoria and the NearMeNow team knew that digitising high streets needed a radical approach with robust digital toolkits that would give businesses the ability to collectively communicate, transact, and advertise in one place.
NearMeNow has created VZTA, a product that meets this need, working with a ground-up approach to make town centres a better place to visit, live, work, shop and learn. VZTA has been likened to ‘social media for the high street’, providing a digital tool that gives businesses the means to communicate with their customer at a time that suits their customers’ need. The entire platform is underpinned with a “no town left behind” approach to ensure post-industrial, coastal, and rural destinations are not left behind in a tech marketplace that often takes a city-centric approach.
NearMeNow has gone door-to-door in order to hand hold businesses through the journey to digital high streets. It knows that the current digital tools available to high street businesses are inefficient and have had to include businesses and consumers in this process to ensure their product is fit for the purpose of businesses, consumers, and local authorities. The NearMeNow team is currently working with the Great British High Street Champions, Treorchy, taking the small business owners on a digital journey and hand holding them through digital upskilling whilst crucially understanding the needs of their own businesses. Victoria has inspired the most digitally isolated business owners to embrace the technology, future-proofing their business and ensuring the creation of robust smart town ecosystems.
NearMeNow knows the high street like no other. It has spent years working with, engaging, and supporting local high streets. From shop owners to consumers, local authorities, and government, the team has immersed themselves in the environment and people they seek to serve to make VZTA the perfect fit for the needs of town centres. They continue to listen, learn, and adapt everything they do to ensure relevancy for the high streets they work with.
By empowering the whole community, from consumers to businesses, NearMeNow has delivered a system that allows businesses to compete with online giants and drive footfall to high streets. VZTA helps businesses achieve more together. Saving time and money by working together and supporting businesses to increase sales. VZTA is more than just a digital high street, it connects consumers, businesses, towns, and local authorities for a completely joined-up approach to create the world’s first smart towns ecosystem.