Under threat independent businesses are in “a race to stay relevant”

Worldpay launches campaign to help British small business embrace the “iStreet”

20 May 2016

London, 20th May, 2016 – Britain’s High Streets face the greatest shake up in a century, with a third of small and independent retailers fearing they may no longer be relevant in a market being shaped more than ever by technology and changing consumer habits.

That’s according to research from Worldpay, which reveals the extent of uncertainty and apprehension among small business owners, who remain conflicted in terms of their attitudes towards technology. 

Just under two thirds (61%) of respondents to the nationwide survey said technology poses a significant threat to their survival, and half (50%) said it can get in the way of providing a personalised experience to customers. Nevertheless 88% said understanding and embracing new technology represents their best chance of survival.  

Apprentice winner, and Worldpay iStreet ambassador Tim Campbell, commented: “Regardless of the rapid changes technology is bringing about to the way people interact with their high streets, people still love them. By embracing the opportunities technological advances can present and listening to customer’s needs there is still a place for the cherished brands and stores that many local residents trust and love.  Being defeatist is not an option.  Responding to the changes is.”

Business owners in London and the south of England are most eager to embrace new technologies with 95% of respondents across the region saying they’re investing in technology to expand their reach online, improve the in-store experience and become more efficient. 

Further north there is more resistance to change. In Scotland, more than a quarter (28%) of retailers say they have not invested in technology to offer online sales or improved customer experience. 

Retailers in the Midlands were the least likely to have built a website or to have used social media. Respondents north of Watford Gap were also far more likely to be cash-only businesses than those in the Capital and across the south of England, where business owners offered the greatest range of flexibility in terms of payment options. 

Dave Hobday, UK Managing Director, Worldpay, said: “As far as retail and technology are concerned, the time for ‘wait and see’ has gone. Digital technology could unlock £18.8bn of revenue for SMEs, while reducing their costs by up to a fifth*.

“Whilst we’re seeing pockets of innovation in many corners of the UK, we also know that many small businesses are struggling to adapt. We want to empower these businesses to turn uncertainty into opportunity and reassure them that technology is a friend, not a foe.” 

This summer, Worldpay is running a national awareness campaign to help all small and independent retailers feel empowered to embrace technology in the day to day running of their business.  A dedicated iStreet hub will provide practical guidance from a panel of small business experts.  Small businesses will hear from Apprentice winner Tim Campbell and other subject matter experts in marketing, accountancy and other professional services to provide insight and counsel that not only helps small businesses sell more but also realise their larger ambitions.

To kick the campaign off and provide the nation real-world examples of what happens when small businesses embrace and invest in technology, we’ll be heading to the traditional seaside town of Great Yarmouth. In partnership with the Association of Town and City Managers we will be helping local businesses capitalise on the benefits of technology and become living case studies for other small businesses across the UK.  Their stories will also live on the Worldpay iStreet hub and will detail their journey with different kinds of tools and technology over the course of the summer trading period.

Shanaaz Carroll, CEO of the Association of Town and City Management, commented: "Over the past five years ATCM has clearly recognised the opportunities and challenges for town centres presented by the increasingly rapid pace of technological change. To this end we have worked hard with key stakeholders at a local, regional and national level to ensure that areas are tapping into the digital potential in sectors such as place management, enhancing the visitor experience and ensuring that smaller businesses are embracing change. 

“Working with Worldpay on the High Street to iStreet project is a crucial part of this process as their reach and experience will be used to directly benefit smaller retailers, and as a consequence benefit the towns and cities in which they trade."


*High Street UK 2020 Report

Notes to editors:

About the research: 

Worldpay conducted and merged two surveys, 247 responses from the membership of the Association of Town and City Managers and 464 GB decision makers in small businesses from the retail industry by YouGov. 

Fieldwork was conducted between 9th April – 5th May 2016. The survey was conducted online

About Worldpay: 

Worldpay is a leading payments company with global reach. We provide an extensive range of technology-led payment products and services to over 400,000 customers, enabling their businesses to grow and prosper. We manage the increasing complexity of the payments landscape for our customers, allowing them to accept the widest range of payment types around the world. Using our network and technology, we are able to process payments from geographies covering 99% of global GDP, across 146 countries and 126 currencies.  We help our customers to accept more than 300 different payment types.

Worldpay UK has a 42% market share in the UK and helps businesses of all sizes sell more to their customers by accepting card payments in-store, online, via mail or telephone, and on the move. www.worldpay.com/uk

For more information please contact:

Harry Ronaldson, Golin: T + 44 (0) 20 7067 0144

Siobhan Acha Derrington, Worldpay:  T: +44 (0)203 664 4822

20 May 2016