LONDON. O2 today announced the next phase in its Priority Moments service with a local dimension – by opening it up over to O2 independent retailers and small businesses across the UK. From butchers, bookshops and bakers, to florists, hairdressers, driving schools and local tourist attractions, the next generation of Priority Moments will enable small local businesses up and down the country to create offers and experiences that are relevant, local and immediately redeemable, helping to drive footfall, build customer loyalty and boost profit.

Figures from the Local Data Company illustrate a sector on a knife edge, developing but in need to harness the power of technology to survive and grow. In 2011, independent retailers opened three times as many stores as multiple retailers and although 12.669% shut up shop, independent small businesses now account for 66% of all retail and leisure units in the UK and increase of 2.4%. These figures, whilst painting a positive background of a nation of entrepreneurial retailers and small businesses regenerating their communities need to be viewed against the backdrop; from 2008 to 2012 the percentage of empty shops has increased from 3% to 14.5% where it has remained for the last 18 months.

O2’s own customer research found that over a quarter 27%* of small businesses cite marketing as one of the business tasks that they most struggle with, specifically to find the right way to reach new consumers or keep existing customers loyal. The service, which is completely free to use, provides participating small businesses with complete control and flexibility over the offers and experiences they create, from the type and quantity of the offer, through to the length of the promotion. Priority Moments will enable small companies to harness the power of digital, mobile and location-based technologies, reaching O2’s 23 million-strong customer network, and putting their brand on the map directly with the consumers they want to reach.

O2 developed and built the service to enable small businesses to respond quickly to the evolving needs of a changing consumer climate. With shoppers increasingly on the hunt for better value, special offers and unique retail experiences, Priority Moments enables local independent businesses to compete and gives local shoppers to opportunity to support their local retailers; encouraging business back to the high street and contributing to the local community.

Andrea Cohen from Number 35, a fashion designer and retailer said: “We trialed the offer for a week and we noticed an increase in footfall which enabled us to build relationships with customers that otherwise never would have considered buying our products. As an independent retailer, it’s difficult for us to compete with bigger brands, so that’s why it’s great to have access to a service like Priority Moments which gives us the sort of marketing reach which is typically the preserve of multi million pound businesses.”

She continued: “While we are extremely proud of our brand, the majority of our time and resource goes on delivering a great service for our existing customers. Quick and easy to use services like this provide a huge boost to our marketing while freeing up the team to do what we do best, make great clothes.”

With mobile devices becoming the ‘centre of your life’, consumers are increasingly using their handset to shop, watch, engage and participate. Since its launch in July 2011, Priority Moments has helped more than one million UK shoppers save more than £8 million through 3,400 exclusive offers from more than 300 high street brands. The Priority service gives access to your sporting passions through a recently announced partnership with Nike, Priority experiences in music tickets and high street shopping – all exclusively by O2, for O2 customers.

The service marks the next phase in O2’s commitment to helping small British companies transform the way they do business. From today, local businesses up and down the country registered with the O2 network can sign up and immediately begin creating their own Priority Moment offers. These could include anything from a glass of bubbly with a cut and blow-dry at the hairdressers, to end-of day-discounts at the florists or buy one get one free deals on pork chops at the butchers for a weekend BBQ.

In advance of the launch, O2 invited over 250 small businesses to trial the new service, in order to ensure that the experience and service was exactly what they wanted. Over a 135 offers have been created in three weeks with those on the trial seeing an increase in customer footfall, enabling them to build and foster new customer relationships.

Matthew Hopkinson, Director of The Local Data Company said: “Through our physical walking of over 2,700 locations the Local Data Company tracks over 280,000 independent businesses. Not only do these independent businesses account for 66% of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain but in 2011 they showed positive growth of 2.4% whilst the multiple retailers shrank. Independents are a significant part of our high streets and create a point of difference and variety in an ever increasing uniform world. This initiative by O2 gives these businesses the opportunity to harness some exciting technology which will enable them to engage with their customers in a way that many larger businesses already do and thus enable them to compete better in a fiercely competitive market.”

Against a tough economic backdrop, small businesses now account for 99 per cent of all enterprises and almost 60% of private sector employment, with a combined annual turnover of £1,500 billion**. In short, their continued success is vital to supporting economic growth and recovery. O2 developed and created the service to give small businesses on the struggling British high street a welcome boost when it comes to marketing their business directly to potential customers.

Ben Dowd, Business Director at O2 commented: “The great thing about Priority Moments is that everyone wins. The consumer wins, the British high street wins and the independent retailer wins. We know the level of competition is intense with independent retailers fighting to have their share of voice and trying to find modern and cost-effective ways to reach their customers. An ad in the local newspaper simply doesn’t cut it in today’s digital universe.”

He continued: “Priority Moments will directly address these issues by opening up the world of mobile to some of the UK’s smallest, most exciting high street businesses, while at the same time giving O2 customers on the high street an exclusive opportunity to discover a completely new side to their local area. No other company in this space has the direct, loyal relationship with the customer that O2 does. It’s an utterly unique proposition and one that we believe, in the long term, has the potential to transform the way our customers do business on the UK high street.”

To use the service, businesses will need to have a physical location (like a shop, high street service, leisure/recreation attraction or food and drink outlet). It cannot be part of a chain or franchise and it must be a B2C company. It takes just three minutes to create and offer on Priority Moments, O2 process the offer and 24 hours later it is live. Once an offer has been created pre-approved offers go live in a matter of hours. The offer is managed, controlled and can be updated by the business and the service has been specifically designed to be as flexible and responsive as possible.

Notes to Editors:

*O2 Yougov research into attitudes of small business in today’s economic environment

**Federation of Small Business

For more information contact:

O2 Press Office

About O2 in the UK
O2 is the commercial brand of Telefónica UK Limited and is a leading communications company with over 23 million customers – read more about O2 at O2 runs 2G and 3G networks and was the first to trial 4G/LTE, reaching speeds of over 100Mpbs, as well as owning half of Tesco Mobile. It also operates O2 Wifi, O2 Health, O2 Unify, O2 Media and has recently launched the O2 Wallet. O2 employs over 11,000 people in the UK, has 450 retail stores and sponsors The O2, O2 Academy venues and the England rugby team. Telefónica UK Limited is part of Telefónica Europe plc which uses O2 as its commercial brand in the UK, Ireland, Slovakia, Germany and the Czech Republic and is a business division of Telefónica SA.

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