Harrogate has been crowned one of the UK’s top eTowns in e-commerce, Google announced. The Google eTown Awards are designed to recognise those towns whose businesses are most actively embracing the web, and at a time when the internet is spurring economic growth Harrogate has won 9th place.
The award builds on the success of Harrogate’s small businesses in 2012. The town’s tech savy businesses have been able to capitalise on the presence of so many world class tourist attractions. Indeed the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site Fountains Abbey was one of the first National Trust properties to become available to visit on Google Street View.
According to the Boston Consulting Group, companies with an online presence grow at least four to eight times faster than those companies without. In Harrogate, one local business, Martial Arts for Life, has seen orders rise from ten deliveries a week to forty deliveries a day after using their website to attract new customers.
To provide a snapshot of this vital economic activity, Google worked with Ipsos MORI to break the UK into its 12 regions and analysed the online strength of local businesses across 1,300 towns. Those towns with the highest scores in each region were awarded eTown status.
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Janet McKenna started her business Martial Arts for Life – which teaches karate and martial arts – 10 years ago and now runs a range of clubs across the area teaching over 500 students. McKenna’s unique selling point is that in her classes, parents can train alongside their children. She set up her website in order to attract more families to sign-up to her exercise classes and uses AdWords to drive traffic to the website.
Janet McKenna, owner of Martial Arts for Life, said:
After ten years of being in business I have found that having a professional online presence is the best way to attract more customers and grow my club.
Even if people read about my martial arts clubs elsewhere they always check out the website before signing-up.
The Connected Kingdom report published by the Boston Consulting Group predicted that the internet’s contribution to GDP will increase from 7.2% today to 10% in 2015 meaning those businesses with an online presence will benefit most and contribute more to future UK economic growth.
Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, said:
It is a great achievement for Harrogate to win the Google eTown award.
I am proud to represent an area where local businesses have embraced the internet, which is playing a key role in Harrogate’s economic growth, helping local businesses and entrepreneurs thrive and contributing overall to the wider British economy.
I hope this recognition will encourage other local businesses to take the maximum advantage of the internet because the digital share of the overall UK economy is forecast to grow to 12 percent by 2016 and will be worth £221bn, with a quarter of shopping expected to be done online by then. Whether it is access to markets, access to the best in health, access to financial services or simply the joy of keeping in touch with friends and family, the internet makes it easier for us to connect and is becoming more and more important as time goes on. And the roll out of superfast broadband in North Yorkshire will turbo-charge changes that are already underway.
Dan Cobley, Managing Director at Google UK, said:
The internet is going to contribute massively towards our future economic growth, and many businesses rely on the web to grow. These eTown awards are designed to recognise and reward those areas leading the way forward in e-commerce, and Harrogate should be extremely proud to be one of the UK’s top ten e-commerce towns.
The top 12 Google eTown award winners in the UK are:
1. Stratford upon Avon, West Midlands
2. Edinburgh, Scotland
3. Richmond, London
4. Stansted, East of England
5. Towcester, East Midlands
6. Bournemouth, South West
7. East Marlow, South East
8. Blackpool, North West
9. Harrogate, Yorkshire & Humberside
10. Blaydon-on-Tyne, North East
11. Newtown, Wales
12. Belfast, Northern Ireland
Christine Norton, Vice-President, Harrogate Chamber of Trade & Commerce, said:
Harrogate Chamber is delighted with this award that acknowledges the rapidly developing business community in Harrogate.
We recognise that social media and online marketing are crucial business development tools for any enterprise situated in rural areas and are proud that Harrogate has embraced e-commerce as a vital part of their marketing mix.
Being recognised for its innovative approach would be a very welcome boost for the Harrogate business community.