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New tech could help Woodbridge shoppers support local businesses without setting foot in stores

News ArticleNew tech could help Woodbridge shoppers support local businesses without setting foot in stores

Window shoppers in Woodbridge could be able to buy what they see without needing to set foot in store, thanks to plans for new tech in the town.

A host of independent stores have come together to find a way for customers to peruse the high street and purchase items they spot in the window display using just a QR code and a mobile phone.

The scheme is designed to support local businesses that have been shut twice as a result of national lockdowns.

Chris Mapey, district councillor for Woodbridge for East Suffolk Council, is at the forefront of teaching shopkeepers how to implement the technology.

He said: “I hope to help as many shops as possible link their window displays to their websites as another method to get people buying from, and supporting, our amazing local businesses.

“This way, all the customer has to do is hold their mobile phone camera up to the code on the glass and they will be taken straight to a website where they can buy all the items you can see – the clothes on the mannequin, the piles of toys and trinkets, the homeware kitchenware, gifts and Christmas treats.”

The plan has the backing of the business and tourism association Choose Woodbridge.

Chairman James Lightfoot added: “This would be an ingenious way to encourage people to continue to walk around town and explore safely what the local shops have to offer and to continue to support these local businesses to survive and thrive through these extremely difficult times.”

Pippa Murphy is part of the team at the new Happiness at Home store at Deben Wharf which opened the day before the second lockdown forced all but essential businesses to close.

She said: “Like many independent stores this should be our busiest time of the year but we are not prepared to give up just because times are tough. A QR code is basically a virtual doorway to your website and a brilliant and interactive way for people to window shop.

“Here in Woodbridge we are part of a lovely eclectic group of fabulous independent stores who have set up websites and are doing amazing things like click and collect to get through lockdown.

“There is a feeling of resilience – we are promoting our own businesses but also each other’s.

“Last year £4.4 billion was spent during the Christmas season and only 20% of this was spent in independent shops. We really hope people don’t get lost during lockdown up the Amazon and come and spend their money with us.”

Participating independent businesses in Woodbridge hope to be displaying their QR codes in the windows of their stores by the end of the month.

Pippa Murphy and Jo Reynolds of Happiness At Home