Retailers and Pinterest: blurring the digital and physical worlds

Retailers have become more aware in the last few years of the importance of social media, such as Pinterest,  and how it can drive awareness and sales. Digital marketing campaigns now need to step up to the next challenge of blurring the digital and physical worlds. If done correctly, retailers will see huge rewards and success.

When looking at retailers and how they blur the lines between the digital and physical worlds, a good place to start is Burberry’s social story. In this video, Angela Ahrendts discusses ‘blurring the digital and physical worlds’. Burberry have  engaged in a brilliant digital-physical campaign across their company. Burberry’s 121 Regent Street store is a masterclass in ‘blurring the physical and digital worlds’. They have technology which enables shop assistants to know what is in customers baskets online. There are digital mirrors that are connected to tables which, when a product is but on the table, the mirror transforms to a screen which shows the making of the garment. These are incredible marketing tools as the technology alone drives people to their stores for the experience. But Burberry have also embraced social media more than many other brands.

The first time I saw the video below, I thought it would be a while before we saw this more prominently in the retail industry, and that Burberry was an exception. But since then I have seen much evidence to the contrary. Many companies are embracing social media to bring their digital-physical campaigns to life.  Pinterest has gained much publicity in the last number of years as retailers have flocked to the online scrapbook site. As it is a predominantly visual site, with direct links back to websites, it makes it an incredible digital tool for retailers.

Just before Christmas, Topshop launched a brilliant digital-physical campaign. Topshop created a Pinterest campaign that works online and offline. Online, Topshop is encouraged Pinners to create a Christmas board with the tag #DearTopshop with the chance of winning some amazing prizes. This feeds into the Dear Topshop gift generator which is supposed to help customers with gifting ideas for Christmas. So Pinners generate a gift and pin it onto their #DearTopshop Christmas board. From this data, Topshop could see which items were pinned the most and they then highlighted these items in store. In the stores, the most pinned items had tags around them, letting shoppers know whats popular. They also had boards within the store promoting the #DearTopshop competition. So online, they encouraged Pinners to shop Topshop online or in stores, and offline they encouraged purchasing almost through a ‘Pinterest Seal of Approval’ as well as encouraging shoppers back online to Pinterest. It all comes full circle. One feeds into the other and in turn helps the other. It was a brilliant end to end campaign.

Topshop Pinterest Digital Marketing Instore   Topshop Pinterest Digital Marketing Instore

Topshop isn’t the only store engaging in this ‘Pinterest Seal of Approval’ idea. Nordstrom have a similar tactic of showing customers in stores what is popular on Pinterest. As well as this, they offer free shipping for the most popular Pinterest items with a separate page dedicated to these items online. Target are also engaging in their own Pinterest campaign with an online store called ‘The Awesome Shop’ which is filled exclusively with their most popular items on Pinterest, while in store they also have the ‘Most Pinned’ tags.

These are just Pinterest examples, but there are many, many more examples using different digital platforms. Personally, I think its a very exciting time for retailers, as they can embrace technology and all its potential like never before. Its time for shops to embrace digital and integrate it with their physical space and hopefully enrich the customer experience. Saul Berman of IBM recently wrote an article for Gigaom discussing how companies that embrace the digital-physical innovation, have more of an opportunity for success. Its time for retailers to use their imagination and to create ways of making digital-physical work for them, as the rewards may be further reaching then we can even imagine.

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