Image by Chad Madden

MARKET STREET: THE UK’S FIRST WHATSAPP HIGH STREET

 

Watford Borough Council is exclusively partnering with WhatsApp to help small businesses in the town use the WhatsApp Business app to more efficiently reconnect with their customers, increase sales and grow.  This exciting new initiative comes hot on the heels of the council’s ambitious new council plan. It sets out how Watford can thrive post Covid-19 and our commitment to promote it as an enterprising town where businesses can invest, grow and succeed.

About the initiative

In a time when small businesses are having to adapt to new ways of working, 20 small businesses from Market Street and Watford Borough Council have entered into an exclusive partnership with WhatsApp to help support them through this difficult time. Trained by experts, the businesses have been introduced to the WhatsApp Business app to help them connect with their customers more efficiently as the economy reopens, in order to increase their sales and grow.

 

Participating businesses have received expert guidance and advice on how to best use and how best to interact with their customers on the WhatsApp Business app. The businesses were shown how to use all the vital features the app offers such as business profiles, product catalogues, automated messages, QR codes and business stickers.

 

Watford Borough Council hope that this initiative will help the traders on Market Street recapture their popularity following lockdown and inspire other small businesses in Watford to consider the benefits of using digital technology to support their business.

About the app

WhatsApp Business is a bespoke version of the private messaging app used by 2 billion people around the world, and was designed specifically for small businesses. The WhatsApp Business app launched in 2018, and has 50 million users worldwide. Like the consumer app, it is free to download and free to use, with the goal of making managing customer communications easier, faster and more professional for small businesses. Features of the app include:

  • Business profiles: to highlight the most important information about a business and confirm their authenticity

  • Catalogues: to showcase key products to customers, these are sharable as a link outside the app too

  • Quick replies and automated messages: including frequently used information like prices, menus and directions

  • Labels: to organise messages from customers by category

  • QR codes: a digital front door that makes opening a chat with a business as easy as possible – and will be provided to participants to display at their premises to help them get discovered and find new customers

  • Stickers: bespoke stickers that help communicate with customers, say thanks and get business done

Meet the businesses taking part

Cafe Latino


Café Latino is a Portuguese-Brazilian family business that specialises in traditional homemade Portuguese cakes, fresh hot food, freshly made sandwiches as well as pastries and desserts. Café Latino opened its doors in January, making it one of the newest additions to Market Street. Customers have the option of eating in or taking away.
“For a small family business such as ours, personal relationships with our customers are what keep us going. We’re delighted to be involved in the country’s first WhatsApp high street and couldn’t be more thankful to Watford Borough Council and WhatsApp for letting us take part in this initiative.”




Shaorma ca Acasa


Shaorma ca Acasa is a Romanian restaurant which opened on Market Street in March 2019. Shaorma ca Acasa is renowned in the local area for serving delicious, traditional Romanian food. Dishes include shawarma, traditonal homemade sausages, homemade soup as well as Romanian cakes. Shaorma ca Acasa is a home from home for Watford’s vibrant Romanian community but is also a hit with the local area.
“Since opening 18 months ago, we’ve been grateful for the support from our customers, our neighbours on Market Street and Watford Borough Council. We’re excited to start using the WhatsApp Business app to help us better connect with our customers and grow our business in Watford.”




Underground Tattoo


Underground Tattoo is a custom tattoo and piercing shop on Market Street in Watford. Underground Tattoo’s highly skilled artists, Elena, Lee, Sidney, and Jade, design custom tattoos specifically to their customers’ requests, giving their work a certain individuality. Piercers at Underground Tattoo also have over 20 years of experience between making them a great choice for piercings at competitive prices. Open Monday to Saturday 10am – 6pm.
“Getting a tattoo or piercing is a really personal experience. Customers like to talk it through and build up a rapport with the artist or body piercer first, so setting Underground Tattoo up on WhatsApp Business is a no brainer – it means we can continue to build relationships with clients even in a world of social distancing and more limited appointments.”




Sansetive Food Centre


Sansetive Food Centre has traded on Market Street for the past 10 years, with new owner Krishma Sediqi taking over in February 2020. Zeynep Food Centre specialises in international food from places like Romania, Asia and the Caribbean.
“The pandemic has taken its toll on our businesses on Market Street, and giving customers the confidence to return hasn’t been easy. This partnership between the businesses, the Council and WhatsApp will really help us get back on our feet and give people the confidence to start engaging with local businesses again.”




Lock & Key Services


Serving the Watford community for over 40 years, Lock & Key Services is also the town’s largest locksmiths serving both residential and commercial buildings. The family run business has been a full member of the Master Locksmith Association for 30 years, a testament to the service Lock & Key Services offer to the people and businesses of Watford. Open Monday to Thursday 8:30am – 5pm. Friday 8:30 – 4pm. “With over 40 years of experience serving the people and businesses of Watford, we are really looking forward to getting setup on the WhatsApp Business app and engaging with our customers digitally.”




Bathrooms 2U


Established in 2004 by Peter and Neil Olohan, Bathrooms 2U is an independent bathroom specialist, focusing on design and quality in modern bathroom trends. With over 35 years’ experience in the industry, Peter and Neil have worked on many prestigious domestic and commercial projects with the likes of Harrods, The Royal Household, the NHS, Ministry of Defence and the BBC. Bathrooms 2U offers all major brands. Open Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm. Saturday 11am – 5pm.
“We can’t wait to start using the WhatsApp Business app to engage with our customers. This is just another initiative from Watford Borough Council that showcases their strong commitment to the local economy and local businesses.”




Lory Pace Salon


Lory Pace Salon is an independent salon that has been at the forefront of hairdressing since its doors swung open in 2006. Led by L'oreal colour specialist and founder Lory Pace, A four times L’Oréal Colour Trophy London regional finalist. Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9am – 6pm. Thursday 11am – 8pm. Saturday 8:30am – 5:30pm
“Given the current climate, I’m really excited to be taking part in this partnership with WhatsApp Business and I hope it will help encourage more people to shop on Market Street. I opened my salon here in 2006 - the street is such a key part of the local community with a real buzz. It’s really important to help high streets and small and medium sized businesses, particularly nowadays.”




Tarboush


Opening its doors over 10 years ago, Tarboush is a Middle Eastern inspired café for friends to meet to have coffee, eat mezza and share shisha. The name Tarboush comes from the hats that are popularly worn in these cafes. Tarboush’s owners take an active role in supporting local businesses. For this reason, many of Tarboush’s ingredients are sourced from local independent suppliers and traders.
“Watford Borough Council play such an important role in supporting local businesses and have really stepped up to the mark during lockdown and coronavirus. We can’t wait to get to grips with all the features the WhatsApp Business app has to offer.”




Online Mattress Sale


Online Mattress Sale operates both an offline and online service offering an amazing range of affordable beds and mattresses to its customers. They deliver mattresses all across the UK and offer free delivery to most locations. Online Mattress Sale opened in 1993 with a huge showroom in Watford and an extensive online catalogue. The business prides itself on its buying power, enabling them to offer significant discounts. “We have a strong presence online and serve people up and down the country, adding WhatsApp Business to our business will help us deliver excellent service to our customers across the UK.”




Wacky Barber


Wacky Barber opened on Market Street in 1994 and mainly serves men and boys of all ages. The shop has a team of 4 highly trained stylists who are all trained to wash, cut and style hair in 45 minutes. Wacky Barber prides itself on being men’s stylists – not just a barbershop.
“It’s so great to be involved in this partnership between the council and WhatsApp. Having the support of such a big brand like WhatsApp and getting to know the app has been so useful and I can’t wait to get started.”




GoKula


Gokula is a vegetarian café which originally opened as a family run business in Watford with the aim of promoting a meat free diet. GoKula provides a space for customers to relax and enjoy delicious hot beverages, snacks or full vegetarian meals. Gokula is now run by the charity Food For All, which supports local people in need by providing free food on Mondays and affordable food Tuesday to Saturdays.

“The WhatsApp Business app will help us to connect with our customers while also helping us to provide free food and drink to those in need in the local area.”




La Bottega


Opening on Market Street in 1965, La Bottega is an Italian delicatessen which has been ran by the Ricciardi family since 1975. La Bottega sells fresh homemade pastries, including cannoli siciliani, homemade pasta dishes, homemade soups and Sicilian arancini balls. All Italian produce and over 150 different types of pasta can be purchased here. Customers can also choose from a large selection of Italian wines and liquors.

“We are proud to have served the community around Market Street for the past 55 years and are keen to get started on the WhatsApp Business app. The pandemic means we have to be careful when interacting with our customers, so being able to do this digitally is invaluable for us.”






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