Scottish tech firm Miconex says that gift card programmes are key to local economy recovery in Scotland, supporting the government’s Scotland Loves Local approach. The Perth based company work with 40 cities and towns in the UK with gift card programmes through its Town and City Gift Cards, including 12 in Scotland.
Its latest partnership with East Ayrshire launched in early August and is a joint initiative between East Ayrshire council and the Kilmarnock Business Association. Cards can be purchased with a value of £10-£500 as gifts, with the recipient able to use the card like a debit card across multiple outlets.
Scotland’s Towns Partnership launched its Scotland Loves Local campaign in July 2020, in association with the Scottish government, a campaign that Managing Director of Miconex Colin Munro believes is vital for encouraging consumers to think local:
“It’s heartening to see this high profile, government backed campaign to drive permanent consumer behaviour change, educating and encouraging customers to shop locally, and supporting businesses as they adapt. The Scotland Loves Local campaign is creating a wave of support for local businesses, which towns and cities can build on.”
Data from the ONS shows that 61% of businesses in Scotland have reported a decrease in turnover in June and July 2020, compared to 58% in Wales, 57% in England and 54% in Northern Ireland.
Yet, there are signs that customer confidence is returning with YouGov reporting that consumer confidence rose for the third consecutive month in July, achieving positivity for the first time since February.
Mr Munro believes the launch of the Town and City Gift Card scheme in East Ayrshire will support businesses in the area with their post-covid recovery efforts:
“The pandemic has caused a significant change in customer behaviour. 62% of people have been shopping on their local high street during the pandemic and 70% of those who shopped locally will continue to do so. Local authorities and business improvement districts want to make this a permanent change in behaviour, presenting a viable alternative to online gift cards like Amazon and Apple that take spend out of the local economy.”
“Miconex developed its first gift card programme in Perth in 2015, five years later and we have over 6,000 participating businesses registered across our schemes and £1.5 million in sales. 8 more programmes will launch in the next two months, with Falkirk’s gift card being the next for Scotland.” “The Town and City Gift Card programme works like local currency through the Mastercard network. Recipients of the gift card spend it with local retailers which drives footfall, supports local businesses and stimulates economic activity.”
This is a view supported by East Ayrshire councillor Jim Roberts who says that the East Ayrshire gift card will go some way to repair a local economy devastated by lockdown: “We’ve realised just how much we need our small local retailers. It’s really important that we all now do our bit to support them through the tough times that will inevitably be ahead.”
The 12 programmes in Scotland supported by Miconex are Arran, Crieff, East Lothian, Edinburgh, Elgin, Glasgow, Kirkwall, Milngavie, Perth, Shawlands, St. Andrews and Visit West End, with East Ayrshire joining the ranks in August.
As a former restaurateur, Mr Munro is well placed to understand the needs of a small business: “Some 10-12 years ago, I was running a seafood restaurant in north east Scotland. As a business owner, you just want to be able to tell customers what you’re offering. That was a problem I wanted to help with in an evidential and meaningful way.”
“Even though I’m working from the other side now with place managers and local authorities, I haven’t lost that small business owner mindset and understanding. Over the years, this knowledge has fed into Miconex initiatives like Mi Rewards, a simple way of automatically rewarding customers for spend or Mi Inverness, a hub for businesses in the highlands to easily share their news and offers.”
“Small local businesses have progressed more in the past 3 months than they have in the last 3 years because they’ve been forced into this position where they have to bring in new revenue streams. When a town or city joins our Town and City Gift Card Programme, we make it easy for small businesses to start getting redemptions from customers with a single registration and no ongoing commitment.”
“Scotland Loves Local has a goal to get high streets back on their feet, a goal that Miconex supports 100%. With East Ayrshire launching this month and Falkirk to follow, we’re doing all that we can to reinforce that shop local message, make it easy for customers to take simple actions to support their local businesses, and ultimately drive the recovery of our local economies.”
Miconex was founded in 2010 and works with towns and cities across the UK, helping to support successful local economies. Miconex developed the UK’s first city wide gift card programme in Perth through its Town and City Gift Cards initiative in 2015. In 2020, over 40 cities/towns across the 4 countries of the UK are part of the Miconex Town and City Gift Card programme. This programme is designed to lock in money locally for participating businesses, drive footfall and stimulate economic activity, in effect creating a local currency through the Mastercard network. In 2018 Miconex launched Mi Rewards, a loyalty programme for that automatically rewards consumers for spending money at registered businesses in a specific local economy, encouraging consumers to spend more in their town or city. The data and insights provided through Mi Rewards generates data and insights to help towns/cities and participating businesses to better understand customers, customer behaviour and to drive loyalty.
For more information about Town & City Gift Cards contact Colin Munro, [email protected], 01738 444 376