What RBH saw and heard at Fashion Digital: @FDUK

What RBH saw and heard at Fashion Digital: @FDUK

As our new bestie friends from Fashion Digital say: “From 180-year old Harrods going to market on 4-year old Instagram, quick-thinking and risk-taking fashion retailers are quickly moving ahead of the curve when it comes to storytelling and forming 1:1 relationships with customers.”

The chance to network, to find out new things, dig deeper into the detail and above all to listen hard into what is happening in the world of content, commerce, fashion and retail is a must for us at RBH.

So it was fantastic to be invited to the very first Fashion Digital in the UK by the inspiring @SandyHussain – the lady responsible for bringing the Fashion Digital conference from New York to London.

Brimming with delegates, the conference had a good blend of techie insight as well as case studies to listen to.

One of the panels that sparkled was the Pioneers of Digital Marketing which comprised Francesca Hodge, Global Head of Marketing & PR at Lulu Guinness, Jennifer Roebuck, Multi-Channel Marketing Director at French Connection, Natalie Thng, SVP – Digital & CRM at Temperley London and Kate Walmsley, Head of Digital at TopShop.

With a stellar panel line up you can never underestimate the power of the moderator to give a conference audience what they want, so it was good to see Poke London’s Nicolas Roope at the helm.   His insight and experience meant he could find out how these industry leading fashion brands actually do manage their digital and social presences, strategically and tactically.

Each of the brands were working on innovative ways to create the ideal mix for Content, Community and Commerce – and whilst that is not exactly breaking news it was fascinating to hear how retail brands like Top Shop, Lulu Guinness and French Connection actually tackle the daily opportunities and challenges they face in the digital, mobile and CRM marketplace.   One of the stronger  takeaways was the fact that French Connection had taken the decision to merge the PR department with marketing and ecommerce, a great idea we are bound to say.  We will also be looking out for the new Lulu Guinness YouTube slot which is set for launch in the coming weeks.

There were some themes throughout the conference which continually featured; personalisation, building 1-on-1 relationships, trust, and integrating the wider community with brands and websites.

Implementing these ideas into a strategy drives a number of questions, one of the most interesting we felt was ‘What is a customer?

One fashion company for instance only call an individual a customer when they have had two separate transactions with the company. Of course, if we want to talk to our customers in a personal fashion, we need to be able to understand what they like, but also what their relationship is with our brand. In thinking about growth and looking the lifetime value of individual customers, it’s completely logical to consider that until someone has repeat purchased, they don’t necessarily have any affinity with your brand so we need to talk to them differently.

Integrating your brand with social communities can help to reinforce trust. Using a celebrity or known face to model a lead product can generate buzz and interest, but actually, would potential customers prefer to see ‘people like me’ wearing that pair of leggings or that shirt? We’re pretty sure that David and Victoria Beckham look great in all they wear, but if  we saw John or Jane from down the street wearing the shirt or skirt we are thinking about purchasing, this could provide extra confidence that this is the right shirt or skirt for us.  This is a question that Olapic were discussing, talking about pulling existing customer imagery onto your own site and product pages.

If you ask people why they prefer bricks and mortar shopping to online, there are going to be some common themes; “I can’t be sure how the material looks in the real world”, “Is this a small medium, or a large medium?” or “I like the experience of online”. Naturally, there are companies thinking of how to breakdown these barriers.  Truefit are an example, working on removing the uncertainty on choosing sizes online by analysing product attributes and providing a personal size for the individual, thus decreasing the size-fear-factor and also the return rates for existing customers.

Finally, with regards to personalisation, we think it’s fairly common for brands to be concerned with minimising unnecessary fields on sign-up forms. An interesting side-point of this is that some consumers do want to share more information with you so that they can get relevant communications and on-site recommendations. Of course, the difficulty is to find the middle ground in letting customers add information if they wish, without putting off those who are extremely protective of their information online.

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