Town Hall, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1RS

Borough Market Management
and Booking Systems Research

Smarter Digital Services conducted a research review of local market management and booking systems on behalf of Gravesham Borough Council (GBC). The operation of Gravesend Borough Market currently has no booking system. The process is entirely manual and therefore the council recognised an opportunity to improve. A digital solution would improve the user experience as well as reduce wasted resources on tasks that could be automated.

Birds eye view of market stall in town centre square

In the report, SDS highlighted the importance of a local market for the town centre. A local market has benefits of increasing footfall to the area, generating income and promoting the community spirit. This isn’t more evident than in the town of Altrincham. The town was branded a ‘ghost town’ with the highest number of vacant shops in the UK in 2010. A third of all shops were vacant partly due to the opening of the Trafford Centre just 7 miles away and a change in customer spending patterns. The council invested in the town’s Market House and covered markets. Footfall quickly increased and the market now experiences roughly 7,000 visitors per week. Read more information on the full regeneration of Altrincham case study here.


There are many challenges to a local market. It is important to recognise the challenges, such as a reluctance to take-up new technology by market traders – less than half of retail market traders accept non-cash payments. Outlining a typical customer journey of a prospective market trader to understand the internal and external user needs revealed the requirements of a digital solution. The requirements were categorised into the basic requirements, requirements to satisfy the user needs and requirements to satisfy the business needs.


SDS explored other successful council-run and privately-run market operations, such as The Borough Market in Southwark and Manchester Christmas Markets, to gain an insight into market management best practice.


SDS researched different market management and booking systems, accredited by the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA), along with case studies of markets using the software of the accredited system providers. SDS explored other market booking software as well as more general booking systems that could be integrated with other services and individually altered to suit GBC’s needs. All the proposed system providers were then evaluated under the three basic requirements; the ability to allocate market space; online payment functionality; and ongoing compliance checks of market traders.


Busy local market stall selling sweets


27 September 2019
research, best practice, booking systems, local market management, user needs
Gravesham Borough Council