ICSC CONFERENCE: Leveraging new technology to drive sales  


Forget expensive advertising campaigns, the new media is social, and real people are the new catwalk models, delegates heard at this year’s ICSC European conference in Warsaw.


Delphine Leblanc, global retail director at L’Oreal, Ludovic Flandin, managing director of corporate social responsibility at Unibail-Rodamco and Pascale Bonnard, founder of Amano which creates user experience mobile apps, showcased some of the new retail technology which is bringing brands closer than ever to their consumers.

Harnessing user-generated content (that’s real customers posting hashtagged photographs of themselves on social media using a brand’s products), L’Oreal can instantly create a ‘community’ of people keen to become ‘stars’ on their NYX brand shop window or wall.

Creating such direct, personal relationships with customers in its stores, L’Oreal can use the content in promotions and increase shopability, said L’Oreal’s Leblanc.

‘We create trend walls in windows, and in store we place the best selfies we receive,’ she added. If buyers like something they see on social media, they can also buy with one click rather than hunting for the product on the website.

It’s about creating an experience relevant to the content, according to Amano founder Bonnard, and a lot of that is about being relevant to the local area. ‘Most smartphone searches have a local intent,’ she said. ‘You have to fight for your digital audience, but once you are connected you can start to bring in brand content.’

Tracking smartphones
Shopping centres have the advantage, says Bonnard, as they can locally track smartphones. ‘When you look at a Nike Instagram, they don’t know where you are or what you’re doing, but using our analytics, a shopping centre is in a unique position of knowing where you are and they can use that information.’

Amano is working with some of Unibail-Rodamco’s shopping centres. ‘Our job is to build and operate better places,’ said Unibail-Rodamco’s Flandin. To drive innovation, in 2012 Unibail-Rodamco created UR Lab to help transform a shopping centre visit into an exciting event. Amano was one of the start-ups supported by Unibail and is now working alongside the shopping centre company.

‘We don’t build projects alone anymore, we build them with communities in mind,’ said Flandin. ‘And I’m proud of the start-up companies we’re supporting who are helping us achieve this.’

Innovation is not all about start-ups, he admitted, and working with small, innovative companies can be complicated too: ‘But through testing we know fast what is likely to work.’

‘We have to deliver stores which are as flexible as a digital web page in terms of data collection. If you can deliver that to retailers you give them a much stronger platform.’