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O2’s Dowd makes boosting UK retailers a top ‘Priority’

Michael Garwood
November 8, 2012

Operator to extend Priority Moments to all local independent retailers, whether O2 customers or not

O2 is hoping the latest evolution of its Priority Moments service will help “wow” customers away from rival networks.

Priority Moments launched in August last year to provide customers with exclusive deals from corporate retailers direct to their mobile phone based on their location. To date, the service has saved customers more than £23 million through more than 4,400 offers.

In July, O2 extended the service to independent dealers, allowing them to display their own exclusive deals for customers on the O2 Priority Moments application.

And last month the firm extended its reach further by opening up the service to all independent high street retailers – including other operators’ customers.

O2 UK business director Ben Dowd (pictured) told Mobile News last month that more than 4,000 O2 business customers have now signed up to the service, and those who are now actively using it are experiencing a “substantial” increase in customer footfall and revenues.

He claimed more than 250,000 businesses in the UK qualify to use the Priority Moments service, and he said he will be spending the next two months speaking to businesses about it (see below).

Dowd said: “Whether you are an O2 customer or not, you can enjoy the experience completely free. They have everything to win and nothing to lose.

“We want to create a great service so retailers talk about us. If a business which happens to be connected to Vodafone would like to work with us to help increase their footfall and business for free, then they now can. There is no commitment.

“It’s about creating a ‘wow’ factor for our customers, but also for those who are not our customers.

“If we can deliver a ‘wow’ factor, there could be some further good things to come out of it. But they don’t have to. The way we look at it is, we are more likely to be in a good position rather than a bad one when, and if, they ever look to renew their services.”

Dowd added: “There is a big push for Digital Britain right now. The economy is struggling and there are organisations that can help with technology, and we are one of them.

“We are trying to help British businesses. The plight of retailers is pretty difficult and for a small independent it’s arguably even harder because they don’t have the budgets for marketing. This literally puts them on the map.

“Who knows what the future holds? But there is an opportunity here and now for us to help.

“As a model we know it works and we think it’s a great opportunity for local independent retailers to help them reach our base of customers in their local areas – helping them to survive and grow.”

The latest version of Priority Moments includes a number of updates that have been “perfected” over the past few months and increase the speed at which offers can be set up.

Dowd claimed partners interested in using the service can now sign up and set up an offer in under four minutes.

He added that the process has been streamlined from a two-step procedure to a one-step one. There is, however, a 24-hour approval period during which business checks are carried out before the offer the business wishes to make is displayed.

Retailers can also renew their offers, which can be weekly, daily or even available between certain hours – such as quiet periods to help boost trade. Offers can now automatically be renewed using a smartphone.

Retailers will also now be able to post their offers on social networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, instantly to help generate more publicity.

O2 will also provide retailers using the Priority Moments service with clear merchandising materials that can be displayed in their store.

Dowd said: “It’s very flexible, and allows the retailer to be in full control of everything, be it when the offer appears to how many people can take it. We have done a lot of the heavy lifting and we have done that very deliberately by working with 400 businesses to make this process slick and user-friendly.

“Retailers know when they are busy and when they are not. So many are now using these periods to offer certain promotions, such as buy one get one free or some form of discount, and they are reaping the rewards.

“They are able to be more digital and engage with a market they wouldn’t have engaged with in that way up until now.

“More than 60 per cent of the market now use a smartphone as a means of browsing and identifying offers that are important to them.”

O2 aims £2.5m marketing budget at struggling English high streets

Dowd also confirmed the operator is to spend £2.5 million on marketing and promoting the new local Priority Moments business service, which launched in Manchester at the end of last month (October 27-28).

O2 says it will initially target 27 English towns whose high streets are deemed to be struggling economically.

Towns have been selected based on the results of the government-funded ‘Portas Pilot’ projects, which were set up back in May 2011 to review the state of England’s high streets.

Chosen towns include Bedford, Croydon, Dartford, Margate, Stockport, Stockton on Tees and Wolverhampton.

Dowd said O2 staff will speak to more than 15,000 businesses in these towns over the next two months to discuss the benefits of Priority Moments.

“We are launching a £2.5 million through-the-line campaign today [October 27] to target this community. The Portas Pilot project is trying to achieve the same as us, and that’s to help regenerate some of Britain’s most suffering high streets.

“We will have teams of people on the ground over the course of the next couple of months and we will be reaching out to around 15,000 businesses on a face-to-face basis. There is also a role to play for our own staff. If every employee in O2 UK was to help one business register an offer, you’re talking about 10,000 businesses. Our employees have a huge role to play in their regions.”

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