Stop excluding the high street from digital transformation

I have a passion for helping big organisations transform and adapt to the changing and complex, connected world we live in today.

I also feel a great deal of sadness when I see high street shops close down. Empty buildings in my home town is becoming the new norm. The once bright lights, buzz, a place to socialise and enjoy an experience together. Now its full of sad, grey empty shells. 

But I also love internet shopping. Who couldn’t say they enjoy the perks of getting whatever you want at the touch of a button in your own home? The likes of Boohoo.com and Wish.com leading the way in the female fashion world really have taken the industry by storm – with highly competitive pricing, choice and excellent customer experience. The digital highstreet is an enjoyable place to be.

But there’s still something about the physical high street that I long for. And the ability to try things on still remains an advantage. 

So what can we do to keep our shops? Here are some thoughts I had whilst sitting on the train the other day:

1. Understanding customers

Why are all shops on the high street open at the same time? Surely some people only want to buy things at certain times.

The internet is open 24hours a day. While that’s probably a unrealistic target, how about closing on weekdays and opening in the evenings? I reckon shops need to reconsider what they know about their customers behaviour and do something different.

2. The shopping experience 

The only way to compete with the online space is to do what it does, better.

For most big retailers they have the advantage of already having a solid loyal customer base. Shops need to hold on to them – Offer them the ability to check out other prices, other brands. And make sure yours is the best. The tech is already available. 

One of the best usp’s for high street shops is  ability to try things on. Make your changing rooms a big deal and a good experience. Make them big, have big mirrors, make them social and put the fun back into shopping with friends. That’s the real USP of the high street. Go over the top – offer refreshments and other perks. 

3. Connect on and offline 

Shops need to make the experience visible and appeal to their online audience.

They should get them talking to other customers and sharing their offline experience, online. They should get reviews up in the shop, make it easy to see what “people like them” bought with those shoes etc. It’s all about making the experience as easy as online. 

I loved this idea – social media-informed digital clothing rail launches as part of campaign to boost towns fortunes through digital. It’s essentially a ‘live feed’ digital clothing rail shows when an item on the rail is trending – or not – on Facebook or Instagram.

More of this please!

Meaning

On Friday last week we gathered 250 people together in Brighton’s Corn Exchange for the second annual Meaning Conference. It was a pretty epic day. Here are the takeouts for those who weren’t able to join us.Looking forward to next year….

Learning through pilots

Recently, at NixonMcInnes, I’ve been working with a government department to further sustain engagement around a campaign.

Their mission is an important one – essentially it’s to support SMEs and encourage the growth of business in the UK.

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We’ve been helping them do this by working with the team to collaborate with external stakeholders online. By building a network of influencers, we were then able to tap into new audiences who were highly relevant to the campaign. 

After initial research, we tested out how a partnership with these influencers would work, using a pilot. As a result, we collected some solid evidence of how the approach encourages long-term engagement around the campaign.

But this learning through piloting proved more powerful than that.

It was this pilot which helped the organisation realise that new digital tools and skills are critical to the future of the business. In turn, this prompted discussions around the need to change the internal culture in order to do more of this.

This, for me, is the most exciting part of my job – helping organisations, like this one, to become more agile to adapt to the new challenges of the changing world.

The Internet is one of the biggest developments in recent times but digital disruption doesn’t have to be a blocker – there really are some great opportunities that come with it. It’s simply a web of information ready to be tapped into.

I’m really looking forward to see what happens next…