A Suffolk-based technology is revolutionising how people use the high street.

Queue Technology - based in Bury St Edmunds - is responsible for the technology behind the Virtual High Street.

A major milestone has recently been achieved as the platform has generated more than £500,000 in revenue for businesses in Mid Suffolk and Babergh.

East Anglian Daily Times: The company has recently moved into a new office in Bury St Edmunds.The company has recently moved into a new office in Bury St Edmunds. (Image: Queue Technology)

The idea for the Virtual High Street came about in 2020, as founder - and former West Suffolk College student - Ellis Heighes, explains: "Just before the Covid-19 pandemic started we were working on a range of QR Code-based tech solutions.

"The main one being Queue Pay. It was a simple to use, fast to create e-commerce website builder which was accessed through a QR code.

"Fast forward to the start of a pandemic, and our concept didn’t really make sense anymore. So instead, we pivoted and started supporting the masses of local independent businesses who were being forced to move their operations online.

"Initially, we worked with local greengrocers, farm shops, breweries and a few others to help them sell online. And many of them did really well.

"This eventually caught the attention of our local district council (Mid Suffolk & Babergh) and it morphed into a conversation of 'If we can do it for 10 businesses, why can’t we do it for every business in the district.' And that's exactly what we set out to do."

Since then the virtual high street has gone from strength to strength.

East Anglian Daily Times: Founder - and former West Suffolk College student - Ellis Heighes.Founder - and former West Suffolk College student - Ellis Heighes. (Image: Queue Technology)

Ellis said: "It wasn’t a product that we ever thought we would develop but it’s one that we’ve become incredibly passionate about.

"We initially launched the platform in Mid Suffolk & Babergh, which since we started has had over 400 local independents join the platform.

"From this, over £500,000 has been spent through the platform with local independents which has been a valuable lifeline for many small businesses in what has been a very challenging time.

"In addition to this, the platform has since gone national launching in South Staffordshire alongside the local council and also Bury (Greater Manchester).

"We’re planning on launching in many other locations."

East Anglian Daily Times: The platform allows councils to manage their own Virtual High Street.The platform allows councils to manage their own Virtual High Street. (Image: Queue Technology)

The founder said he believes "the simplicity" of the technology is a key factor in its success.

"We work incredibly closely with both the businesses and local councils who use it. And develop features in response to what is needed.

"The platform was designed to give independent businesses the tools that they need to operate online successful, that's their own website with all of their core details, the ability to sell products, sell experiences or promote offers and a full analytics suite to track their progress.

"The same is for councils, which can manage their own Virtual High Street through our simple CMS where they can view a breakdown of the businesses who have joined and analytics on how it’s progressing," Ellis added.

Looking forward to the future, Ellis said: "We’re going to continue to develop it and improve it in response to what is happening and what is needed.

"We’re moving towards a big push into local experiences which should give independent businesses the opportunity to offer something a little bit different.

"For example, through the platform your local florist could create a ‘Bouquet making class’ or a restaurant could create a ‘cooking course’ and these would be directly bookable through the Virtual High Street platform."

A Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils spokesperson, said: “Over the last two years, the roll-out of the Virtual High Street has supported almost 400 businesses across Babergh and Mid Suffolk.

“Working in collaboration with town councils and Queue Technology worked well, bringing the right technology and local knowledge together to offer businesses an innovative way through the pandemic.

“What started as a lifeline during this time, evolved to become an important digital tool to help businesses innovate and reach new audiences, and continues to be a key part of our recovery plan post-Covid offering ongoing support for our town centres.”