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).
We’re in the newly refurbished Heal’s (very nice) for a breakfast session on retail. Nicky from GDR kicks off by telling us her top three trends to watch: first, selfies – both Karl Lagerfeld and Urban Outfitters have been using these in store to great effect. Second, #foodporn – one company used Instagram photos to create a crowdsourced menu; third, the highly conversational #whatimwearingtoday meme, which was appropriated by Kate Spade as a promotional tool and did well.
Following Nicky, Sam Reid steps up to talk about his new start-up, Tapestry. Sam says we want to avoid the “wrong kind of digital” (such as a coloured screen which mirrors your movements in store) and focus on the “right kind” – which is mobile: everyone has a mobile phone, says Sam, it makes sense to connect with them. Tapestry enables users to buy items using their phone. Sam’s research has shown that people who interact with a brand using their mobile phone in store will spend up to 25 per cent more. Sam is currently working with brands like Ted Baker and Diesel. This is “next level CRM”: why do stores send vouchers in the post, asks Sam, when they could send them direct to a mobile, so you’d have them in your pocket next time you’re in store? Main issue for Tapestry is tying up the data – making full use of all data available.