Town's High Street could head online
Businesses in Shepton Mallet are following in the wake of their counterparts in Wells who achieved national coverage with the launch of a pioneering online initiative.
MyHigh.St, the brainchild of Wells toy store owner Loaye Agabani, is a website that allows customers to shop from their favourite local stores from the comfort of their own home.
It is Britain's first online and mobile shopping destination for local retailers.
And Mr Agabani says he has had keen interest from several businesses in Shepton – all wanting to know more and some have already signed up.
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He said: "We have been talking to businesses in Shepton – knocking on doors and explaining how it works. Some had a few suspicions and concerns – but once we explained how it works they like the idea.
"It would be a mistake to say we are going to save the town overnight, but we are getting a good response and encouraging feedback. The main point to make is because there is no cost, there is nothing to lose."
The new website provides an
online shopping platform for independent shops or franchises and aims to not only provide web shopping but to bring customers back to town through a reward scheme called HiPoints. Mr Agabani said: "Shoppers and visitors can now extend their shopping hours.
"8 o'clock is now the biggest shopping hour. It used to be midday but now it's 8pm and all the shops are closed. Now, you can shop with people you trust and like anytime."
Mr Agabani said: "If you spend £1 you earn HiPoints. If you click and collect you get double points, it drags people in to the high street. I know for a fact someone has collected something and then bought something else from my shop."
Shoppers can reserve items, collect them in store, or get them delivered.
With more than 50 retailers signed up in Wells and Castle Cary and now Shepton Mallet, the idea is catching on fast.
Scott Hurley, manager of Shepton Mallet's Revolution Health and Fitness centre in Town Street – soon to move to the Academy – told the Journal: "I am in the process of signing up to MyHigh,St.
"I think it's a great idea – and if other businesses in Shepton sign up it would be great for the whole town. It means you can spread what you are offering and selling to a much wider audience."
Also joined up are Belinda and Wayne Ollis, owners of No21 Vintage Clothing and Accessories – and No21 Interiors.
Belinda said: "It is a very good idea and I think it should help my shop flourish.
"It will raise awareness about what shops are in the town and will bring revenue to the town and its businesses. I think the Shepton Mallet community should support this initiative."
There are no up front fees as the website's aim is to encourage communities to support their local shops. But shops who partake will have to allow 14 per cent commission for any goods that are sold online.
Mr Agabani said: "Hopefully if more businesses in Shepton Mallet get involved it will give the community a sense of 'working together' and help locals support local business."
Businesses in Castle Cary have been signing up too – including the Bailey Hill Bookshop and fashion boutique store Holly Lane.
Amanda Laing, owner of Holly Lane said: "It is a great thing for Castle Cary and will look to bring more people into the town.
"We have so much more to offer in this town than people realise.
"Connecting local, independent shops online means that shoppers can browse their high street or buy online anytime.
"It could be a lifesaver for local shops."
Retailers interested in joining the scheme can email kirsten@my high.co.uk.