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.

Now, Victoria ap Gwynedd, online marketing manager at Heal’s. Heal’s was an early mover, launching its online store back in 2000. Now e-commerce drives about 30 per cent of sales. Victoria’s “quick wins” in terms of digital include:

1. Giving all staff an ipad so they can engage with customers in a more immersive way, showing them further content online.

2. Heal’s stores are more than just a retail space – Heal’s constantly has events, give something back to their consumers – very experiential. They’ve run everything from conversations with artistic directors of flower shops to furniture-making workshops. And social is a great channel to tell people what’s happening in store.

3. Influencer engagement: Heal’s recently teamed up with Google to run #Healsdiscuss (see video above): a Google+ live hangout with young up and coming designers (prior to university) to start building a relationship with them. Heal’s currently has 85,000 followers on Google+ (a lot of these are in the US, eg, bloggers – Heals ship internationally so the G+ presence work well).

Victoria asks, is social profitable? A marketing channel is only seen to be good if it’s generating sales. Heal’s sees social all the way through the user journey, but it’s hard to pin an actual final click on it.

“But is social making the whole business more profitable? Yes, without a doubt! This is great brand-building for us. We’re learning from our customers and they’re learning from us. The best advertising is word of mouth and that’s what social does.”

Finally, David Sevenoaks from Spaaza. Spaaza have developed MyPrice, a mobile app using data to give customers personalised pricing in store – currently used by QuickSilver (South Africa) as one of their loyalty solutions: Quicksilver is seeing a 50% increase in basket price for customers using MyPrice in store. Trends David is excited about in retail include: Bluetooth Smart (IO7) – this means people can communicate with sensors that retailers can put in store. “We’re very excited about this in terms of creating more personalised promotions”. And secondly, Paypal Beacon – this is what’s really going to enable mobile payments to happen. The death knell for NFC, which never really worked.

Some interesting ideas – much to cover in very little time. Thanks GDR and Heal’s for a thoughtful event.

Jemima Gibbons

Social media consultant and author of Monkeys with Typewriters (featured by BBC Radio 5 and the London Evening Standard). Get your social marketing up and running with my Social Media Launch Pack!

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