In this digital day and age, retailers are often pondering how to best take advantage of technology to drive in store foot traffic and sales.
The City of Melbourne council encountered this problem last year.
It wanted to engage Melbourne CBD’s shoppers and get them spending more money in an innovative, forward-thinking way, but didn’t know how to go about it.
The council teamed up with technology and consulting company IBM to pull off an event that collided tech-savvy consumers’ digital and real worlds.
Events Melbourne executive manager of commercial and marketing Lucan Creamer and IBM partner Ian Wong were the driving forces behind the event.
They spoke at the Marketing Association’s ‘Digital Day Out’ about they pulled off the feat and what’s in store for the 2015 event.
Creamer says the goal of MSFW is to position Melbourne as the number one retail destination in Australia, as well as drive sales for Melbourne CBD’s retailers and designers.
Last year this was done through consumer-facing runways, in-retail activation and industry events.
It also had “social zones” that encouraged people to tweet or photograph the experience using the event’s hashtag #MSFW.
Creamer says it wasn’t just about pulling off a great event.
He says they wanted to show retailers a way to engage customers both online and offline.
“The reason why we developed this event within retail is to demonstrate some leadership in retail around how they can use events to activate and change their model a bit,” Creamer says.
He says they demonstrate how to engage customers through social media and then retailers can continue to use those techniques throughout the year.
“We aren’t directly involved in the delivery, but we can give them the tools and insights based on what we’ve learnt [from the event],” he says.
Melbourne Spring Fashion Week (MSFW) launched on August 29 and took over Melbourne’s main shopping hub, sprawling five city blocks.
One of the biggest moments for retailers was the opening night event called “Shop-Hop”.
A MSFW microsite allowed tech-savvy shoppers to plan their evening by locating in-store offers and sales, while notifying them of the free CBD entertainment going on around them.
Emporium's giant sign featured in many attendees' retweets and Instagram posts
They also used it as a tool to find out which area in the city looked the most exciting or had the most mentions digitally.
While this was happening, IBM tracked the success of the event through social engagement on Instagram and Twitter.
The week-long event generated 15,064 tweets and Instagram posts that mentioned “MSFW”, which received 17,293 comments and 408,983 likes.
From these posts, IBM could also gauge useful information like who were the top influencers on social media at the event, as well as crowd movement.
Creamer says CBD retailers that were involved in Shop-Hop night attracted the biggest amount of re-shares across the platforms.
Emporium Melbourne, a shopping centre on Lonsdale St that has 225 stores, had 25 times as many Instagram posts about its stores during the event.
As well as this, Creamer says Emporium’s shops experienced significantly higher sales and a foot traffic increase on the Shop-Hop launch night of 24 percent.
After last year’s success, Creamer says pretty much every major retailer in Melbourne is on board for this year’s event.
He says they’re testing predictive analysis tool with two big retailers.
This means personalising offers at the event by reaching out to people in attendance and tailoring an offer specifically to them based on their social media profile and postings.
For example, if they’ve posted a photo on Instagram about a fashion designer they like, they’ll receive an alert saying there’s a design that’s similar to the one they like only 25 metres away from them – and there’s a glass of free champagne waiting for them.
“This helps people navigate and move around, spreading the love across the retail region,” Creamer says.
With hundreds of thousands expected to attend the event, keeping people moving is key.