With big name brands fleeing or being dumped off the high street, Rob Jackson asks if tech savvy local retailers could take their place.

With more and more corporate casualties on Britain’s high streets, is a return to the independent retail landscape of the past a possibility? If Google has anything to do with it, then the answer is yes.

Google’s latest AdWords update signalled a significant shift in how their hugely successful pay per click platform works. It is now much easier for advertisers to increase visibility for users on mobiles and tablets. This is potentially very attractive for local business owners who can, for example, target ads to users who are nearby during opening hours.

Google have come under increasing pressure to diversify their revenue streams as AdWords has become more saturated. In the auction model, larger advertisers can outbid smaller players with some companies willing to pay in excess to £40 per click. With Cisco predicting that “the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world’s population in 2013”, the ad giant has taken a major step in helping smaller businesses to reach mobile users who are potential customers. By enabling advertisers to more easily reach users nearby, they are potentially opening new revenue streams for both advertisers and themselves.

Digital marketing has always been something of a playing field leveller. Whether you’re a sole trader selling vintage clothes or a huge fashion house, having a varied marketing mix is essential for commercial success. So if independent retailers are to take back the high street, how can they do it? In the spirit of retail revolution, I’ve prepared a small guide to taking on the big guys by supplementing your bricks with clicks:

Cast a wide net

There are multitudes of free to cheap places to list classified ads online. From the obvious ones like eBay, Gumtree and Amazon Marketplace to the more local options like regional news sites and community forums. By trying as many of the free or low cost options as possible, retailers can create affordable revenue streams in niche areas.

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