Shakespeare town 'top at eCommerce'

ShakespeareShakespeare's home town has topped a table of places embracing doing business online.

Businesses in the tourist hotspot of Stratford-upon-Avon are the best at using the internet to attract customers and orders, according to research commissioned by web firm Google.

Stratford in Warwickshire has been named as the company's eTown Award winner, following research into 1,300 towns and cities across the UK.

Google spokeswoman Laurian Clemence admitted the company was surprised by the results. "We had an unlikely champion in that Stratford-upon-Avon came first, showing it isn't all just about men in tights," she said.

Internet commerce is worth more than £100 billion to the UK economy, more than either the utilities or transport sectors. Researchers at Ipsos-MORI first looked at how many advertising keywords, known as Google AdWords, hundreds of thousands of UK businesses used to direct customers to their websites.

This revealed the UK's "hot pockets of eCommerce" and a small group of businesses from those areas were surveyed to see how they were using the internet to drum up trade.

Among the criteria used were whether companies had mobile phone-friendly websites, hosted a blog and if the companies were on any internet-listings sites.

Miss Clemence believes what Stratford businesses have done well is make the most of the town's history to attract customers from both the UK and abroad, using the internet.

"They have an established High Street, but what they have managed to do is get tourists and visitors from the UK and abroad," she said. "It is an internationally recognised place because of Shakespeare, and the businesses have made use of that."

This, combined with the 2012 London Olympics last year, had seen visitors drawn to the UK's historic places, she said. "People might expect to see Leeds, Manchester or Liverpool in the list, but instead we've seen little market towns like Harrogate and Towcester make the top list."
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