Digitalization is key to the present and future of local commerce in any city. For digitalization to be effective, it must be personalized, thinking about the uniqueness of commerce, connected with the local and with the world to achieve greater competitiveness. Like the "Sherpas" in the mountains, the "Digital Sherpas" in Las Rozas guide businesses in digitalization and the multichannel and gamified platform "Las Rozas Fans" helps them connect to the world in an attractive and easy way for everyone.
ADAPT TO AN INCREASINGLY DIGITIZED WORLD. The way we shop is changing around the world very quickly, especially due to the pandemic and greater and easier access to the Internet through any device. Every time we buy more online and decide what we buy by the information we find on the Net. And the younger the buyer, the more so. For local commerce, not being digitized is a problem, since not being digital means not only losing great potential, not being able to access new customers, but also being able to lose those you already have.
DIGITIZE AND CONNECT TO LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND. The objectives set are to digitally transform commerce to achieve greater competitiveness and break the gap that digitalization is generating, both for small businesses and for people. It also provides citizens with a better knowledge and ease of buying in local commerce.
A DIGITAL SHERPA FOR YOUR BUSINESS AND FOR YOU. To achieve an effective digital transformation, we think of the process in two phases: one, digitize and two, connect. It is not worth a recipe the same for everyone. There are two important innovations: personalize and accompany in this process. To digitize, we created the figure of the Digital Sherpas who, like the Sherpas do in the mountains, accompany and personalize this process for free and above all working on cultural change. In digital transformation, the easiest thing is technology. The Digital Sherpas are consultants specialized in digitalization of commerce and SMEs and who applied a methodology designed by Las Rozas Innova.
CONNECTED TO MAKE FANS. Once digitized it is necessary to help commerce to be connected, but valuing the uniqueness and value of the local, as well as the people who lead these businesses. To do this, to the participants in the Sherpas we provide free access to a multichannel SaaS platform, gamified called "Las Rozas Fans" and that will allow a high dynamization of commerce, very easy to use and attractive both for commerce, and for the most important thing of Las Rozas Fans: the final customer. It is intended that this platform, which is not a ""market place"", does not seek to compete with search engines or large shopping platforms, is very attractive and with an important focus on gamification, can connect people on the one hand with the place where they live and, on the other, provide a local business with a tool of high dynamization that, on its own, it would be very difficult to access. It is intended that this platform will be financially sustainable in the future by being able to incorporate the possibility that the platform generates income by facilitating recognized brands the possibility of carrying out promotional actions in Las Rozas. This in turn is a dynamizer of the platform itself and makes it attractive for both "Fans" and businesses.
FROM THE PILOT PROJECT IN 2021 TO THE SCALING OF THE PROJECT. The Digital Sherpas Programme was a priority action of the 2021-2022 and 2023-24 Action Plan. It began a pilot program in 2021 for 71 participants, out of a total of 900 businesses in the city, where in addition to selecting participants from different sectors, it was included the main associations of local commerce. The pilot program was evaluated at the end and 12 months after its completion showing a very positive assessment by the participants, as well as a high impact on their businesses having helped them to have visibility on the internet, grow in sales and customers. In 2022 and 2023 the Sherpas Program is launched again to try to reach 50% of the city's businesses and in 2024, the maximum possible. This program has been created taking as a reference the lessons learned from the pilot program and thus achieve more effective in the digital transformation of the participants. It is planned to share the experience with the Spanish Network of Smart Cities, with 85 member cities and of which Las Rozas is part.
INNOVATIVE METHODOLOGY. The proven methodology consists of four phases: listening, analyzing, proposing and acting. Listen to understand the business and uniqueness well. Analyze business information (market, product, etc.). Propose a P@Di (Individualized Digital Action Plan) to launch and personalize each business and where above all free or reduced cost tools and software are used. Once you participate in this program you are a Digital Sherpa and will be given the opportunity to be part of the Digital Sherpas community. Finally, act, incorporating training or making investments in software and digital tools. Once this process of about twelve weeks was completed, they were supported by public aid to cover approximately 50% of the necessary investments. They were also provided with free access to the Las Rozas Fans platform.
SHARING THE EXPERIENCE: DIGITAL SHERPAS COMMUNITY. A Community of Sherpas will be launched where a meeting point of the Digital Sherpas of different programs and cities is created.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Digital transformation often puts the focus on technology, but in reality, it is much more complex to change the culture of the people who must go digital than the technology they are going to use. Digitalized and Connected addresses digital transformation by focusing on the people who must carry it out. Hence the figure of the Digital Sherpa since like the "Sherpas" in the mountains, the "Digital Sherpas" in Las Rozas guide businesses in digitalization, they do it in a personalized way, listening, analyzing and proposing actions that are adapted to the reality of a business and the people who manage it.
We are committed to the uniqueness of local commerce, but without losing the global perspective of a connected and increasingly digitized world. It is proposed to create Fans of the products and services of our city. The multichannel and gamified platform "Las Rozas Fans" helps them connect to the world in an attractive and easy way for everyone.
Collaborations & Partnerships
To design and execute the Digitized and Connected Program, we had the valuable help of the Las Rozas Innova team, the associations of merchants of the city and consultants specialized in digital transformation with experience in local commerce.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The main beneficiaries are commerce, hospitality and local services in the city, by providing them with access to an adapted and personalized program to transform digitally but considering their uniqueness. Users, by allowing them to access local products and services in an attractive and dynamic way and get a better price on their purchase. The local administration, being able to generate valuable economic activity and facilitate a present and future strategy to its businesses.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The Sherpas Digitales 2021 pilot project evaluated its quality as soon as it ended with very satisfactory results (4.7/5). A year later, participants provided their assessment of both the program and content, the economic impact, as well as their needs afterwards. Most of them have stated that the program has significantly helped them to transform digitally, improve sales and win customers and have been very interested in the creation of a Digital Sherpas Community.
Challenges and Failures
The biggest challenge in the digitalization of commerce is not technological, it is cultural. It means in many cases to begin to change some aspects in the way manage, sell and show products in the digital world. The most complex aspects have been three: to attract the trade in the initial phase of the program for various reasons (lack of time, fear of technology, etc.); to gain the trust of the trade in the evaluation phase of the business to be able to propose a personalized action and get experts with experience with micro-SMEs.
Conditions for Success
For a program focused on digital transformation micro-SMEs to reach the beneficiaries and be successful, it must be as close and personalized as possible. Cultural change will only occur when the trust of the beneficiary is gained and, in the beneficiary’s, clear view of the possible benefits it can bring. For this, it is necessary to lead from a local institution that has a comprehensive vision of the process and accompaniment using a methodology as easy and accessible as possible and whose implementation is of reduced cost. Digital Sherpas must know how to adapt to the uniqueness of commerce and micro-SMEs, which has a lot of product knowledge, time and scarce resources. It is important that Sherpas have previous experience in micro-SMEs and social skills to facilitate cultural change. Once the program is completed, the creation of a community of Digital Sherpas will help them keep up to date and share and learn about experiences and access to the Las Rozas Fans platform.
The project was born with the vocation of reaching the maximum number of shops possible and due to its characteristics, it could be replicable in any city where there is commitment and resources on the part of local entities. In our case, the experience will be shared with the Spanish Network of Smart Cities (RECI) that has 85 members from cities of different sizes and level of economic development. In the European Union it is a project that can be financed with European funds and in other geographical areas with a lower level of development, it could be financed by international organizations, since the digitization of micro-SMEs is a priority in most countries. Digitalization without leaving anyone behind is a global challenge, as the digital divide is widening.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING: PEOPLE. The key lesson: to focus on people and the reality and uniqueness of trade. Technology is not the hardest thing.
CUSTOMIZE TO IMPACT. The profile of the people who manage a small business is unique. Most of them have been with it for a long time, they know their customers well and the products they need, but that helps them to take care of their current customers, but not to win and keep new customers in the medium term in a digitized world where every time they decide and buy online and using a smartphone.
DIGITIZE, THEN CONNECT. Without a digital "attitude" it is difficult to compete in a world of big players of search engines and shopping platforms like Amazon. It is essential to first make a digital transformation that prepares you to compete and then connect to the digital world where the possibilities are enormous. The value is in the community, the ecosystem of the local, but with a global vision
- Implementation - making the innovation happen
23 November 2022