Many high street retailers currently face unprecedented challenges arising from the competition with online retail sellers and city centers losing their attractiveness to customers. Aiming to retain footfall to their stores, retailers and local service providers are exploring how digital technology, such as digital platforms, can be harnessed to provide new touchpoints. However, little is known about how high street retailers are using digital platforms and, in particular, Local Online Platforms (LOPs), which are restricted to a geographic area, mostly a city. To address this gap, we conduct qualitative research to investigate the usage of LOPs. Interviews with 19 small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) retailers reveal that they will use digital online platforms, preferentially LOPs, as long as entry barriers are kept low in order to acquire new customers, promote loyalty and strengthen local cooperation between SMEs on the high street. We outline our plans to validate our hypotheses with behavioral data in forthcoming interviews and surveys. This research in progress will thus inform the next research efforts aimed to provide practical insights on the design, adoption, and usage of LOPs to benefit both software designers and SME retailers.



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