Last time I visited Lush in Westfield, there was a jug of Moscow Mules by the door and a bowlful of M&Ms to help yourself to. A few shops down, Rigby & Peller were handing out glasses of Prosecco to anyone who fancied a browse.
Now that’s my definition of “social” shopping. But a good few more can be found in From UK High Street to Networked High Street – Eva Pascoe and Niki Gomez’s 2013 response to the Portas Review of 2011. It’s a well-written vision of how technology can improve (save?) our high streets. Here are my takeaways (no pun intended):
1. We’re lucky in the UK to have rich diversity in our high streets: “Each of our High Streets is a mix of different patterns of retail, leisure and services,” write Pascoe and Gomez. “These patterns are like multicolour mosaics, they are very unique, steeped in the history and diverse in demographics.”
Talking to friends who live in smaller, newer cities like Sydney or Tel Aviv, this complex tapestry does not exist everywhere. Things that Londoners take for granted – having access to hundreds of cultural and networking events every week, for example – simply aren’t possible in many other cities. We should make the most of it, and build on that diversity – rather than moaning (as we Brits love to do).
Steve opens the session with a talk about Jaguar’s digital strategy. When he joined Jaguar two years ago, they’d just set up a Facebook page but weren’t really sure what to do with it. Today, Jaguar has 2.4m fans on Facebook. Steve’s strategy is highly visual – “It’s all about the sexiest models”. Jaguar reveals all new cars on Facebook first. During new car launches, they take questions live via Instagram and Twitter, and have used “one of those life-blogging cameras that you stick on your pocket and it records your day”.
“We draped the cars in red, white and blue and drove them down the Mall. It was all a little bit Austin Powers-esque but a bit cooler. We asked people to take photos, upload them to social media and hashtag them. It worked really well. That British essence is very important for us in overseas markets.”