Louboutin on Instagram
Sexy Shapes
A YEAR OF ROMANCE 2014 was the year of the Horse, considered to be a Romantic Star in the Chinese Horoscope, and associated with social media, sex and love. Keeping in the spirit we kicked off the year with Sexy Shapes in January, helping women look amazing in a bra that actually fits. Our client, Hunkemöller, invited us to help in their mission to take the guess work out of finding the perfect bra. Working out different bra vocabularies for 5 countries was interesting, as cultural differences run deeper when it comes to lingerie than in, let’s say, beer. This personal shopper project was delivered in a truly omnichannel style – in store via staff training, as well as online, and all integrated with Hunkemöller’s CRM system.  
WAKE UP AND SMELL THE (DIGITAL) COFFEE Romance remained the theme in February, when we indulged our passion for good coffee (which is replacing beer as the drink you are most likely to have on a first date), whilst developing a new digital strategy for leading coffee brand Douwe Egberts. The Amsterdam-based global coffee giant understands that ecommerce is vital to keep ahead of the competition, particularly in the B2B market. Overdosing on coffee, dreaming about meeting a handsome stranger over a steaming cup of DE, sampling dozens of new tastes every day and exploring the shape of the global online coffee market kept us buzzing throughout the Spring. 
Store Stars

TAPPING UP SOCIAL FOR ATTRACTION As social media gathers momentum in influencing fashion buying decisions, equally there is nothing better than Facebook and Twitter when it comes to attracting great staff for fast growing European fashion jobs. Omnichannel retailers often struggle to source talent, as European retail has been somewhat slow off the mark in embracing the bricks-and-mortar/online combo, so the right skill sets are hard to find. This year we found the best place to track them down is via social media recruitment campaigns. @shopped, our daily retail twitter newsfeed, attracts over 60,000 followers who are a great source of recommendations for EU-wide retail staff, providing a stream of CVs from real retail fashion fanatics.

LESS IS MORE WITH CUSTOMER DATA Uneasy collecting so much customer data? You’re not the only one. In June the UK government sponsored pilots to find out what data is really necessary for successful retail. We worked with Ethos Smart to develop a pilot for the anonymous High Street promotions app, where only your location and the time of your visit are used to deliver offers with significantly improved value. In 2015 the customer will be able to let brands know when and where they can contact her, instead of receiving batch and blast notifications. In these days of increasing cyber crime, the less data you hold, the less attractive a target for hackers you will be. The project was funded via ‘Reengineering The High Street,’ and we hope it will go to full implementation in Spring 2015.
SENSING CHANGES iBeacons were the retail buzzword in the summer, used for offering location-based mobile phone services for retail and conferences. We developed an app for the global Wikipedia event in London, that helped visitors to the notoriously difficult to navigate Barbican Centre find their way through that labyrinthian maze. The app helped visitors find out where events were being held, and access news and real time updates, and will be enhanced with real-time offers for food, merchandise and books. We used the leading brand of these magic sensors, Estimote.com, which are made next door to my mum in Poland. Apppli.com were our tech partners for this project, and they now have a number of new projects is in the pipeline including McDonalds and John Lewis.
Paloma Faith
HOLLYWOOD TRAIL IN HACKNEY Following the Barbican app, in the Autumn we were excited to be invited by our favourite London borough, Hackney, to help out with their location-based information services. To improve the experience of tourists visiting the Shoreditch and Boxpark area, The Retail Practice team enjoyed a sleepless 24 hour Hack-ney-thon, collaborating to deliver an app for the borough.  Hackney Treasures will help visitors get location-specific alerts about where to spot Tracy Emin, Pete Doherty or Paloma Faith. The alerts, along with quotes and titbits, come from Wikipedia, via a Dutch magic data-engine that follows your footsteps and picks the best alerts for you as you pass by places of interest. We’re looking to add retail alerts soon.
Louboutin on Instagram

THE RISE AND RISE OF INSTAGRAM September saw the launch of Shoppedinternational on Instagram,  providing you curated highlights from top fashion brands’ social media campaigns, best windows and in-store design. The social winner so far was Louboutin, followed closely by Polarn O. Pyret  whose eco top was worn by the gorgeous George Windsor in a now world-famous photo.

QR codes
THE FUTURE OF OMNICHANNEL, LIVE In November we held our first Retail Bytes live event, at which we discussed the potential for customers to use their mobiles to scan products for personalised pricing, as piloted by Game retail stores. The customer uses Game’s app  to scan the cover of any game, and the app will calculate a personal discount, based on what the person has bought before. Individual pricing in store, what a brilliant and effective way of getting footfall and happy customers. The consensus at the event was that product recognition is the future, and QR codes have had their day. Thanks to Apppli.com for their hostpitality and their contribution of new Millenial Customer Insights.

The Grimsey Review
RESULT FOR THE ALTERNATIVE REVIEW We love indies and the High Street, so last year, together with Bill Grimsey, we co-authored The Alternative High Street Review,  pointing out that the Business Rates structure is not fit-for-purpose, as they are harming perfectly good businesses. After 18 months of campaigning we have finally got the Chancellor’s attention, and in the Autumn Statement, George Osborn acknowledged that wholesale reform is needed if Business Rates are to be a tool for growth and not for High Street destruction. He also promised £500m of Business Rates rebates for indie shops, so a good result!
Eva at the Reinventing the High Street conference
DIGITAL HIGH STREET HOT LIST December also heralded the bad news that High Street vacancies are on the rise again, as the malls are investing billions to tempt customers into MegaMalls like Westfield. To find new alternatives for the High Street, we joined Dame Wendy Hall at a conference organised by the government innovation body The Digital Catapult. We developed a hot list of the digital tools necessary for providing better value for money for High Street customers, so they enjoy their visit and buy the product, instead of just showrooming and running home to buy from ‘tax-efficient’ Amazon whilst watching Strictly. Watch this space for announcements on the new round of funding for these improvements.
SNAP TO DONATE Finally, we were delighted to find out that, following our dialogue with SnapDonate, the take-a-photo-of-charity-logo-and-donate-via-mobile app has included Help4Heroes in their visual search catalogue. The app helps donors to scan the logo of a charity from the bucket or leaflet, select the amount to donate and pay for it with one click. So much easier for donors, and no need for loose change, plus all payment goes electronically to the charity, thus minimising costs and leaving more in the kitty for the beneficiaries.
The Selfie Stick
WISHING YOU A WONDERFUL NEW YEAR! Don’t forget to take your selfie stick to your New Year party, it lets you take a selfie (or a ‘stickie’) of a large group of revellers, fits into a handbag and connects via Bluetooth. Happy snapping!

See you in 2015! Apple Pay is coming, so it will be an interesting year. Contact me for a chat about your e-com and social media requirements, we are here to help.

May the Force of High Street innovations be with you!