Tag Archives: retailer

Gap Inc‘s Art Peck talks digital disruption, aspirational brand expressions and enabling loyalty through relevance

13 Jun

ArtPeck_Gap

“We are entering into a period of significant opportunity driven by accelerated disruption coming from the continued pivot of customers into the digital space,” Art Peck, president of growth, innovation and digital at Gap Inc (which includes Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta and Intermix brands), said at Goldman Sachs’ fifth annual dotCommerce day in New York this month.

His key message: we might think we’ve seen change over the past decade, but in retail specifically we’re on the cusp of something much bigger. It will be equivalent to that of the 1950s and 60s when consumers moved from local variety stores to suburban bix box retailers, he said, referring to the wave that saw many of today’s mega brands, including Walmart and K-mart, hit the market.

What it’s about, he said, is the customer. Consider these statistics: a decade ago, only 3% of consumers in the US bought apparel and accessories online. 15% of them engaged online but still purchased in physical stores, and the remainder only shopped offline and had no digital engagement at all.

Fast forward to today and about 15% of the market is shopping online for apparel and accessories. Those not engaged with brands digitally has shrunk to only 13%, while the remainder this time are engaged online, even if they then still buy in the real world. “What that does,” said Peck, “is put an opportunity and an obligation on us.”

At this point in time the bulk of the industry has a transactionally-efficient website that acts as a complementary channel to their stores. What we need to move towards, he explained, is an experience both online and off that ties together the overall vision of the brand. “The digital expression of our brands needs to be a holistic, aspirational expression of the brand because that is in many cases what customers now base their choice on.”

Interestingly, it’s digital that he believes will also enable the company to achieve that uniform expression of the brand across its store portfolio no matter the size of the outlet. Today at a flagship store consumers are exposed to the entire brand in an aspirational way, whereas at a mall it may just be a small subset of that intention, and often not an aspirational one at all.

“Our vision here is we bring digital together with physical, and regardless of the store, where it is, the size that it is, the mall that it’s in – we give customers exposure consistently to the entire aspirational expression of the brand,” he emphasised.

At this point in time, Gap is working on doing so with initiatives such as replacing all legacy systems in stores with web services; so in-store and e-commerce now operate on one platform. The company therefore now has the capability to have global, virtual visibility on the availability of its inventory, and has been able to introduce the likes of its ‘reserve in store’ option for shoppers.

As of next month it is also testing out an ‘order in store’ system in a bid to counter that feeling of disappointment when consumers can’t find what they’re looking for on a trip out. Said Peck: “Our commitment with assisted or unassisted ‘order in store’ is you’ll never leave the store empty-handed, whether that’s a physical bag or a virtual bag that you’re carrying with you… That’s a huge economic opportunity for us. It’s moving that conversion yield.”

Omnichannel is the obvious buzzword he said, holding up his own smartphone as an example of the most important device for retailers to be thinking about. Mobile is pervasive, but also persistent in that it stays with consumers all of the time, he explained. It’s for that reason it’s a key driver for loyalty programmes, something the company is also focusing on with a new scheme testing at Banana Republic stores imminently.

Peck referred to loyalty as a ‘big one’ for the company, a driver for frequency and for share of wallet, but more importantly as an opportunity to “bring our personalisation capabilities and customisation relevance to bear in a store environment”. At the moment 60% of people visiting the website are recognised as unique visitors, enabling Gap to personalise experiences based on things like browsing and purchase history. Doing so is providing movement on numbers like conversion, time on website, CTR and more, said Peck.

“Good things happen for the customer if they’re willing to self-identify and tell us who they are at the beginning of a shopping experience. They do on the website, they don’t in our stores. If you come into our stores today we won’t recognise you until you tender, if we recognise you then.”

This loyalty programme is about providing the customer with the opportunity to self-identify in order for the company to create a much more relevant set of experiences compared to when they shop anonymously, he explained.

It’s that word, relevancy, that he picked up on as most important: “There’s lots of talk out there about big data – to me big data, personalisation is focused on an outcome of relevance. That’s what we’re working on.”

John Lewis calls for GIFs focused on “moving forward” in ongoing #JL150 anniversary campaign  

11 May

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John Lewis is continuing the celebrations for its 150-year anniversary with a crowdsourced GIF campaign.

Created to accompany its new TV ad dedicated to British history, the initiative invites fans to submit their own animated images or videos of up to 15-seconds in length, showing how they’re “always moving – dancing, running, learning new things”.

That concept ties to its tagline for the whole campaign: “For 150 years you’ve never stood still. Neither have we.”

Entries can be submitted via Tumblr, Google+, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using the #JL150 hashtag up until May 30. A winner will be picked at random and awarded £1,500 of JL vouchers; a further £150 of vouchers will be given to their favourite entry each week.

The company has also launched its own #JL150 Tumblr page housing numerous versions of its own GIFs (examples below) – some of the pulled from the TV ad and others showcasing the commemorative products created for the anniversary in collaboration with some of Britain’s most loved brands and designers.

Check out the John Lewis Facebook page too for news on further celebrations in-store, as well as a content series dedicated to different decades.

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Kohl’s goes for emotion in Holiday Surprise campaign

4 Dec

 

Call me a softie, but Holiday Surprise from Kohl’s is one of my favourite campaigns this Christmas.

Based on the very festive theme of kindness, it’s a simple 30-second spot that sees a young couple rushing to decorate their elderly neighbour’s apartment before she returns to the building. It cleverly tugs on the heartstrings of all those viewing when it ends with a shot of the expression on her face once she does so.

Set to a cover version of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young, the lyrics set the tone: “May your wishes all come true. May you always do for others. And let others do for you.”

It’s a different move for the retailer, which, like many of its counterparts, usually focuses heavily on promotional messaging at this time of year. As AdAge reported, this emotional broadcast is in a bid to “stand out from the promotional maelstrom of the season”. While Kohl’s is still pushing its discounting alongside, this ‘brand’ spot layered in aims to be disruptive in a different way, said its chief customer officer, Michelle Gass. “We know what people remember are the moments of giving,” she said.

Though there are yet to be any postings, Kohl’s is also inviting consumers to share their stories of kindness over social media with the hashtag #ShowKindness.

Saks unveils interactive holiday windows, offers Makerbot 3D-printed snowflakes

2 Dec

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Consumers are invited to flick personalised digital snowflakes onto the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store in New York this Holiday season.

The initiative, developed in partnership with creative digital agency, The Science Project, and sponsored by MasterCard, is part of the retailer’s wider focus on the legendary Yeti rumoured to reside on its roof making snow during the festive period, this year.

The Yeti Snow Workshop as this particular window is called, invites passersby to visit saks.com/snow on their mobiles where they can find out their own Yeti name, add it to a snowflake design and then flick it from their device to instantly see it gently falling down the window.

In-store those who spend over $150 or more with their MasterCard, can then receive a 3D-printed snowflake created by the MakerBot. Harry Cunningham, senior VP-store planning and visual at Saks, also told AdAge: “3D printing has been a big of late, so some of the figures in our window this year are actually 3D printed. As technology advances and as things move forward, we’re looking for opportunities to inject that into our process.”

Six of the other store windows depict different scenes of the Yeti’s life, from being “an under-appreciated snowmaker in Siberia to his starring role as a true snowflake artist in New York”. Each also features the hashtag #SaksYeti.

They were unveiled last week with a 3D light show mapped onto the façade of the store created by Iris Worldwide (as in the YouTube video below). It runs every seven minutes each night from 5-11pm over the Holiday season.

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Cath Kidston, Bauble Bar driving traffic with Christmas treasure hunt campaigns

25 Nov
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UK home furnishings brand, Cath Kidston, is running a cute campaign on its website in the run up to Christmas that invites shoppers to hunt through its pages to try and find Santa.

Every time they spot him they could be in with the chance of winning the products found on that page.

Based on the idea that Santa’s gone into hiding due to having too many wish lists to read through from the retailer’s main Christmas competition, the initiative sends fans on a hunt around its day bags, zip wallets, baby sleep suits and Christmas stocking fillers.

It is of course a clever move to get shoppers searching through the whole site, not to mention popping back on a regular basis, at a time when present inspiration doesn’t go amiss.

US online jewellery retailer, Bauble Bar, is running something similar for the festive season too. Email subscribers are being sent clues to “Buried Baubles” each day – items with serious markdowns hidden somewhere on the site. Meanwhile, its “30-days of Sparkle” campaign – as below – also sees daily discounts and offers being unveiled in the run up to Christmas.

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Press may have pushed “tech” angle of new H&M store, but less than a week since launch, nothing seems to be working

20 Nov
H&M tech store, Times Square

H&M’s deserted digital catwalk in its new Times Square store

I’ve been looking forward to visiting the new H&M store in Times Square since it opened last Thursday off the back of the tech innovation it’s supposed to house. As per the headlines that ran:

I finally got there last night, but unfortunately was sorely disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, from the moment you walk in the space feels fantastic; it’s high energy and it looks beautiful. Three floors and 42,000 square feet of great design, only enhanced by the huge volume of fluorescent signage throughout. But the technology story that’s dominated the press, well… none of it was working.

In the first instance, there are mannequins with screens in front of their faces supposed to play videos, display photos and showcase special deals. Screens that on a busy Tuesday night the week before Thanksgiving in the US, were switched off (as pictured below). All of them.

Then there’s the fitting room checkouts. Not a high tech initiative, but certainly a forward thinking one to help bust queues in a store that’s on one of the most trafficked corners of New York City – 42nd Street and Broadway. Again, closed. And the store was busy.

H&M tech store, Times Square

The blank digital screens in H&M’s new Times Square store

It was the mezzanine level with its dedicated DJ booth supposed to “spin music continuously”, and digitally-enabled runway, that I was most looking forward to. There, shoppers should be able to pose for a series of photos in pieces from the H&M line, and then see themselves displayed on one of the other LED screens around the store (there are 7,000 square feet of LED screens in total, including two 30-by-20-foot ones on the outside of the building).

As per WWD: “Shoppers choose an outfit in the nearby dressing rooms, enter their e-mail address into a computer and await the signal: ‘Walk’ on a red flashing sign. Each ‘model’ is told what time his/her image will be on view on the screens inside and out. Images sent to shoppers’ e-mail accounts can be used on social media.”

When I arrived on that level at about 5.30pm last night, there was no one to be found, not even the DJ (as the top picture shows). A lone sales associate clearing up behind the desk said she hadn’t seen anyone on the catwalk all day so she presumed they weren’t using it. I asked another on the ground floor who said she wasn’t sure but assumed they just had it turned off for the day, and another who said it was broken so she thought they weren’t able to use it. None of them were 100% confident about what was going on.

The computer next to the runway also displayed an error message regarding potential damage to its battery life if left plugged in (as pictured below). I was in the store for about an hour and nothing changed, though I didn’t overly expect it to as the story was the same on Monday night when a colleague of mine also visited.

The disappointment of all this for me is nothing to do with the fact a few glitches mean things aren’t working right now, but more that it’s such a sign of what retailers are achieving at present across the board – aiming too high and delivering too low. No wonder there’s constant push back from senior management about ROI.

There’s a huge amount happening with in-store technology, and a lot of it really exciting stuff that garners an enormous amount of press coverage, but does it really mean anything at all if it doesn’t work merely a few days after the big launch party when most of the journalists have walked away? A classic tale of smoke and mirrors.

I’ve had other experiences recently where I know something is working in a department store but it’s supposed to be a guided experience and without a sales associate on hand to demonstrate it to me I can’t participate in it. That’s essentially the same issue; an attempt at tech integration failed at the first hurdle, that being enabling the consumer to even use it.

There are a lot of arguments about the pros and cons of retail technology these days – from making it feel seamless to the shopper rather than gimmicky and unrelated to the persona of the brand, to ensuring staff are rightly trained to use and demo it – but I would argue the most important thing of all, and I think you’ll agree, is that there needs to be a commitment toward it working for longer than just on opening night.

H&M tech store, Times Square

The empty mezzanine level of H&M’s new Times Square store

H&M tech store, Times Square

H&M’s empty DJ booth in its new Times Square store

H&M tech store, Times Square

An error message on the digital runway screens of H&M’s new Times Square store

H&M tech store, Times Square

An error message on the digital runway screens of H&M’s new Times Square store

H&M tech store, Times Square

A blank digital screen in H&M’s new Times Square store

H&M tech store, Times Square

H&M’s new Times Square store

M&S teases Christmas #magicandsparkle campaign over social

1 Nov

British retailer Marks & Spencer provided a sneak preview of its upcoming Christmas television campaign via its social channels this week, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

The 10-second trailer sees a Highland Terrier dashing down the street with model Rosie Huntington-Whitely in hot pursuit. Hinting towards both an Alice and Wonderland and a Wizard of Oz theme, it closes with the dog tumbling down a manhole.

This little dog is no Toto however, but either Magic or Sparkle, depending on what M&S fans decide. The retailer is inviting them to vote on either name as part of an interactive tie-in for the revival of its “Magic & Sparkle” catchphrase.

“With this year’s ad we wanted to recapture the magical essence of Christmas that our customers tell us is synonymous with M&S. Magic & Sparkle is an extraordinary franchise, which has always been a firm favourite with customers,” said Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, executive director of marketing and business development. He added that it’s all about interaction and a conversation with customers this year. “Digital is the fastest way to be in that conversation and you are going to see us doing more of that.”

The full two-minute ad – set to be released over social on Monday, November 4, and television on Wednesday, November 6 – is said to be inspired by several other much-loved fairy tales too.

It also stars David Gandy and Helena Bonham-Carter, in what is referred to as a filmic spot featuring an enchanting orchestral soundtrack.

Huntington follows after the small dog, landing in a snow-dusted forest seated at a “fantastical feast”, filled with M&S food products and Gandy, who takes on the role of Mad Hatter. Next she moves to a Red Riding Hood scene inside Grandma’s House complete with home goods and decorations from the retailer, before heading out on a magic carpet, with Gandy once again, across the London skyline. This time she wears her Rosie for Autograph lingerie and sleepwear lines.

Last up is the yellow brick road with Huntington-Whitely as Dorothy (complete with red heels), Gandy as the scarecrow and Bonham-Carter as Wizard. The ad closes with Magic or Sparkle safely recovered in the real world.

The spot was shot by London-based agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R and directed by Johan Renck.

RosieH-W HelenaB-C DavidGandy

Warehouse fans go #knitbombing in recent social campaign

29 Oct

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As mentioned in a recent post about the #topmansprayonjeans campaign, there’s a big focus on user-generated content being seen from a multitude of retailers of late.

One of the others referenced in that same story was Warehouse. The UK retailer launched a campaign in late September focused on #knitbombing, a street art craze involving knitted items being placed to decorate public spaces – think trees, bollards even bikes. It’s not a new phenomenon, but it’s one that hasn’t been claimed by a fashion brand before (to my knowledge).

In a nice example of physical meets digital, Warehouse invited its followers to snap photos of their knit-bombing attempts and upload them to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag. The best would go on to win a £250 gift card.

To help facilitate the campaign, it offered shoppers free knit-bombing kits in-store when they bought certain knitwear items. It also posted a series of inspirational woolly shots of its own across its Facebook and Pinterest pages (a couple of which are above and below).

Read its blogpost about the initiative: “Knit-bombing groups have been springing up everywhere – warming the soul of grey urban spaces with colourful knitted artwork or ‘graffitti’. Obviously we had to share this amazing phenomenon with you.” It also called for participants to “flex some creative muscle; remember the city is your playground.”

According to @Editd, the campaign saw Warehouse’s fanbase grow 10%.

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Topman pulls in consumer content with #topmansprayonjeans campaign

23 Oct

 topman_topmansprayonjeans

User-generated content might be somewhat of an old phrase in the digital space these days, but there’s a phenomenal amount happening around it of late.

From #thenetset at Net-a-Porter to #framesofyou from Armani, as well as multiple other examples via Warehouse, Estée Lauder, Kate Spade and more, everyone is getting in on the act.

The latest is Topman. The men’s arm of the Brit retailer has been pushing its new spray on jeans for the last few weeks using the hashtag #topmansprayonjeans.

Taking full advantage of the #selfie phenomenon, it’s been calling for consumers to send images of themselves wearing the super tight skinny jeans over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with the best looks winning Premium Spotify accounts daily.

A series of short videos were released as inspiration for fans on how to get the look. Meanwhile, another fun video was posted today (as below) demonstrating the speed with which it’s possible to put the jeans on.

Reads the write up: “We’ve listened to your feedback and some of you have struggled to get our Spray On Jeans on quickly. We got ours on in 7 secs, how quick can you get yours on?”

Burlington wins with adorable #backtoschool ads

21 Aug

US discount retailer Burlington Coat Factory has launched a fantastic campaign for the new back-to-school season, focused on what kids are thinking about as they look in the mirror and get ready for their first day back.

Being aired on TV as well as viewable on YouTube, the Cramer-Krasselt-created series is both terribly cute and laugh-out-loud funny.

The unicorn and the ninja are particularly stand out…

 

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