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Why are we still talking omni-bollocks, when we should be talking retail?
Why all the jargon?
Why all the omni-channel cliches and the multi-channel job titles? Why all the endless debates about whether digital is right for a brand or not, or digital versus in-store?
Marks & Spencer has been all over the UK news this week, in the way that only Marks & Spencer can.
The media and the public seem to go misty-eyed at the merest mention of the brand, and are willing it to find the good times again.
Unfortunately, we're not buying its clothing or homeware - something the new CEO wants to remedy by "putting the customer at the heart of everything".
But what does that actually mean?
Facebook and Google both continue to improve their location-based advertising products, targeting mobile users and attempting to cash-in on online to offline conversion.
Here's a roundup on the state of play and some thoughts as to why Facebook may be best positioned to win the battle of the high street.
Ah, Oxford Street, you are known by so many names…
To some, you are the shopping capital of the UK, to others, a realisation of hell on Earth.
This is particularly true for those of us whose morning commute takes them directly through the centre of Europe’s busiest shopping street. Here all the biggest high street brands rub shoulders next to endlessly ‘closing down’ souvenir shops and all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets
For us here at Econsultancy, it is technically a second home, and therefore we can’t help but treat it as an ever-changing example of a digitally transforming retail industry.
The death of the high street has been pronounced many times in recent years, normally after another major retailer has fallen into administration.
However there are occasional signs that offline retail can survive as long as it adapts to face its new reality.
After many years as a pureplay online retailer, Cloggs is seeking to expand its business by establishing high street stores in towns across the UK.
It began with a boutique store in Shrewsbury in December 2013 and will open another shop in York before the end of this year. The plan is to open as many as four new shops in the first half of 2015.
To find out more about Cloggs’ multichannel strategy I spoke to managing director Chris Thomas...
Let's take a look at who is using this technology in retail.
I'm not looking at payment here, which NFC has been mired in, merely how the shopping experience can be enhanced.
I'll get a few things off my chest about what works and what doesn't. First, a super quick differentiation between the two technologies.
Near field communication (NFC) is capable of two way communication, so payment (a debit and credit) for example, or even in medicine (a tag in your skin could send vital signs to your smartphone), and it works only at short distances. NFC can be used more basically, to simply transmit set information to a phone or tablet.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) has been around for yonks, the tags only transmit information, to an RFID reader (an NFC enabled phone or tablet such as an Android can be used as a reader, but for an iPhone a separate reader is required). These tags have been traditionally used in stock control.
There's bluetooth low energy (e.g. iBeacons) in the mix, too. However, many of the uses of beacons have been for push messaging to customers.
In this piece I'm not going to be talking about geofencing which can be done with RFID, GPS or low energy bluetooth (iBeacons). I'll be focusing on active rather than passive engagement, though I'll discuss iBeacons in my conclusion (as they're rapidly taking hold in many of the same scenarios).
Right, now that's taken care of, let's dive in...
Bakery chain Greggs has launched a new loyalty app that enables customers to pay in any of its 1,700 UK stores using their mobiles rather than cash or cards.
It aims to reward customer loyalty, with users getting offers, free coffee and prize draws as well as being able to see their purchase history.
Greggs is incentivising people to download the app by offering a free breakfast if people add £20 to their account, while the first 10,000 customers to sign up for ‘Auto Top-Up’ with PayPal will earn a £5 bonus credit.
This isn’t the first time mobile payments have come to the high street, as Starbucks has had a transactional mobile loyalty app for several years. Similarly Aurora Fashions Group, which owns Oasis and Warehouse among other brands, allows customers to pay using the PayPal inStore mobile app.
I’ve written two posts already about Marks & Spencer's new website. It’s not a love-in, in fact both posts have generated some good debate.
Should it be so editorially led? Could the navigation be slicker? Should there be a guest checkout? Despite these issues, I’m a fan of the new look and aside from the intricacies, the new site is about finally aligning the brand's image with top quality high street fashion.
But it’s about more than just a new website, M&S is investing across the multichannel customer journey, in the knowledge that a multichannel customer can be worth four times as much as one that only shops either on- or offline.
Here are 11 ways Marks & Spencer is enriching its multichannel business, aside from its new desktop and mobile sites and revamped apps.
We love brands, right? We marvel at the most successful, and feel genuine sorrow for previously loved brands that disappear.
The life of any company founded today is shortening as time goes on. Brands have disappeared, and will continue to do so, for many different reasons.
A company can seriously jeopardise its future by taking its eye off the ball for less than a year. Agile methodology is becoming more and more important, as power is wrested away from old-school, bean-counting management.
This post presents some lost brands, some soon to be lost, and asks the question ‘why exactly?’
The speed with which new technologies are being adopted by consumers is breathtaking. The use of tablets and mobile is unprecedented.
New customer touch points have burst onto the scene, leaving retailers struggling to decide where to prioritise their marketing and digital spend: should the focus be on websites, stores or mobile?
Retailers in London's Oxford Street and Regent Street have been relatively slow to emply digital technology to improve the in-store experience for customers, so says a new study.
Tech provider Omnico has carried out a survey more than 90 retailers for uses of 17 different technologies, including reserve and collect, wi-fi, kiosks, iPads and more.
The retailers studied are using an average of two technologies, while 30% of retailers don’t use any at all.
Web technology has a big part to play in the future of the high street, so who's using what?
Mobile is growing and forward-thinking retailers are looking at ways to use mobile to increase sales, bring customers into stores, or to enhance the experience when people are shopping.
I've rounded up ten great examples of mobile use in retail from around the world.
Mobile commerce sites are an obvious one but there are plenty of other ways to use mobile, such as to take payments, help customers navigate stores, and more...