Future Retail Strategies Congress: The highlights


1st January, 1970

Future Retail Strategies Congress: The highlights

It was a jam-packed two days bringing the UK retail industry together to exchange ideas and hear the latest case studies from a diverse cross-section of retail. As well as a buzzing networking space with cutting-edge, innovative retail solutions, we had a host of retail leaders share their insight and experience.

Catriona Marshall, CEO of Hobbycraft started the conference sharing how Hobbycraft, the market leader in arts and crafts are building a community using the store space to engage craft clubs and building trust and love with free activities in store with real people and charities. You can measure the trust with the increasing number of regular customers, NPS scores (80% from 43%), colleague engagement score and social media interaction.

After building their online presence four years ago, 7% of their turnover is through this channel despite a shoestring marketing budget. With monthly competitions, Hobbycraft has been leveraging customers’ creativity for social content and engagement such as the baking competition driving sales 5% already on the back of The Great British Bakeoff. It shows that building on relevant occasions to be part of the conversation, inspiring customer led product launches and commercial benefits will follow. You need a single customer view.  

Hobbycraft uses personalised emails and local twitter accounts for personality and better engagement for relevance so by understanding the role of the communications channel you don’t have to spend loads. By using low cost technology and moving quickly as well as working with start-ups they can achieve the results.

We also heard from Finery, a fashion start-up with 25% of their business relying on waiting lists for their products to determine their buying. They’re automated, adaptable, lean and flexible. They offer high street prices but designer thinking and branding. By combining data and creativity all the ads are automated. They may have launched online but they’re rolling out in John Lewis with European expansion in 2017.

Google shared the latest in programmatic advertising, which is targeted marketing for more effective, relevant ads by using audience signals with great examples from Costa and BA.

John Lewis gave an insight into the fail fast mentality and the work coming from JLAB. One such project was the 3D printed sofa shapes using RFID for the fabric swatches in their sofa studio visualisation kiosk to show customers the possibilities and this was developed in-house in 12 weeks and in store for 12 weeks leading to 65,000 store interactions. They also launched their smart home contextualisation in their Oxford Street store to drive interest in future appliances. With JLAB in its third year, it’s helped develop 11-12 trials in store when working with start-ups alone. The biggest risk is not doing anything.

The second day brought further case studies from iconic businesses but also the disruptive pushing the boundaries from the likes of Avon, M&S, GAME, AO.com, Facebook and Tesco to name a few, all proving that improving the customer experience in-store and online is critical to drive sales and thrive.

I look forward to seeing the developments next year!

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