New Roam Local App: ‘We want to celebrate what's on the doorstep and Spotlight what Northern Ireland has to offer’

  • Sync NI sat down with Andrew Bartlett Founder and CEO of the Roam Local App to find out more about the platform and its rollout across Northern Ireland.

    Roam is a multi-award-winning smartphone platform designed to drive interest, footfall and spend to local high streets and town centres.

    The app, which was first introduced in Bangor before a full roll out across all of Northern Ireland, works to serve both the general public and local business owners.

    It is a social media styled platform designed to connect communities and enhance safety and well-being, essentially letting users of the general public “become a local in any location.”

    The general public can open the app and it will instantly pinpoint their current location and pull up local businesses around them within a 10 minute radius. As they walk around in any direction those results keep updating.

    Roam also works to support local businesses. It provides those businesses with the opportunity to claim their already existing profile and take complete ownership, allowing them to add products, services, news, offers and more. Businesses can also send customers push notifications to drive engagement.

    Founder and CEO of the Roam app Andrew Barlrett explains: “The status quo if I landed in Belfast is to use Google to see things to do around me. It’s always the big Costa Coffees, The Cafe Nero’s, all the big multinationals that know how to pay to dominate the Google search engine with search engine optimization and Google ads. It’s page 8 by the time you get to John's local Cafe around the corner, which makes an awesome cappuccino. That’s why we want to show and represent local businesses and hospitality and bring them into the digital age.”

    Andrew adds: “We are simply providing that same technology that McDonald's and TK Maxx have with this technology where you can communicate and engage with your local consumers, visitors, tourists, business travellers, with a simple app tap. We're delivering it to the local independent businesses that don't have the budgets, the know-how or the resources available to invest 30 grand upwards into App technology. The real key is that we're helping local businesses be found and levelling the playing field against the big multinational businesses.”

    The app works as a social media-style ecosystem. Users can easily share recommendations with friends. Andrew adds: “One person having a coffee in a great little cafe could turn into a recommendation to over 1000 people. We're building this ecosystem, this user community that is celebrating the best of the local places NI has to offer and putting them on a map in a style that is easy to navigate, communicate and engage with.”

    Andrew also highlights how easy the app is to use. He says: “We really have built the platform with local businesses in mind and the abilities and technology in mind too. If you look at the Roam business dashboard, the first thing you'll see is that it's super simple to use. That’s because we know that we might have a new bar owner that's 30 and really tech savvy but that we might also have an 80 year old retailer that's selling gentleman's outfits that just doesn't get it. So, with that mentality in mind, we have to swing that pendulum and be able to advocate for both. We have training resources, articles, videos, one to one support and a regional account manager that's there at the push of a button to help in any way shape or form.”

    Andrew believes that the digitisation of the hospitality and retail sector is inevitable. He explains: “We look at Roam as being as pioneering as Spotify was for the music industry. We see Roam being that pioneer for the digital high street age. We position ourselves very much as the next step in evolution for local exploration and communities.”

    He adds: “I think that with Brexit, COVID and the Cost of Living crisis we need to be able to provide support to local businesses and really channel the message that digital is your friend, not your foe.”

    Since Roam launched in Northern Ireland 4 months ago it has had over 8 million local business clicks and over 40,000 downloads.

    Roam has headquarters in Bangor and the company is growing their team across Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK. Andrew is keen to attract tech talent and contribute to the growth of Northern Ireland’s tech sector.

    Highlighting this, Andrew concludes: “We want to be an integral part of the community in Northern Ireland. If you look at Northern as a whole, there's a lot of opportunity. We have strategically put ourselves there because we want to be part of that community. We want to be part of that journey. Where is Northern Ireland going to be 30 years from now? It's an exciting thought. We want to be able to play our part in that, to be part of that journey. We want to celebrate what's on the doorstep and Spotlight what Northern Ireland has to offer.”

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