Birmingham has style… a whole mile of it actually!

1 12 2009

People often say that Birmingham doesn’t have style, but the latest campaign from Style Birmingham is about to prove them wrong.

Launched today, the ‘One Mile of Style’ campaign aims to help shoppers have a stress-free Christmas whilst remaining festively fashionable by exploring the concise offering the city has to offer.

With over 1000 shops, bar and restaurants in the city centre alone, Birmingham has everything you need; from the ultimate gifts and perfect party dresses, to a suitably festive day out.

The launch of ‘One Mile of Style’ comes perfectly in time with my post yesterday about ‘Manic Monday’ where I said that the high street needed to embrace the internet, rather than give in to it. This campaign is a great example of how through the website, Style Birmingham is encouraging people to shop on the high street rather than the internet. The map allows you to explore the city’s key shopping area and the festive activities happening throughout December, without actually leaving your house. As well as downloading the map straight from your computer, you can also link in to the Style Birmingham iPhone App and navigate your way round the city centre.

This works similarly to OSOYOU, where shoppers can explore their favourite high street stores, compare prices and create a shopping list to then go and explore the shops in person.

This is how I think the retail world should work together, to ensure we don’t see the death of the high street just yet.

Oh, and don’t forget to look out for the brand new Style Birmingham TV Advert, which premieres on ITV (after Emmerdale) tonight. Exciting times!

 





Just another Manic Monday…

30 11 2009

So, how have you spent today? Been Internet shopping by any chance? Well, if not you’ll be in the minority as today is supposedly one of the biggest days for e-commerce, with virtual tills ringing to the tune of over 700 sales per minute. ‘Manic Monday’ (or Cyber Monday in some circles) is set to see the busiest day for online Christmas shopping, but how realistic is it to assume that everyone has deserted the high street and opted for online browsing?

Well, a poll by Zavvi (comments about their high street closure can be inserted here) showed that more than 81% of Brits are planning to do their Christmas shopping online, and this has already started with last week’s sales figures showing a surge in online gift purchases.

There has undoubtedly been a rise in popular high street stores developing e-commerce sites; from Topshop and Harvey Nichols to Currys and Argos, you no longer need to leave the house. Apparently. There has also been a trend in online shopping ‘malls’, as I like to describe them, with Net-A-Porter and ASOS leading the way.

But what I have always remained adamant about it is that the ease and convenience of the online world can never be a substitute for a girly shopping trip or the way a gorgeous Marc Jacobs bag feels in the flesh. And whilst I still remain a fan of the ‘tangible’, online retailers are making moves to change my mind.

This kind of shopping is no longer just about the convenience or finding the best price – although that is particularly important in the current climate – but instead it has become a reason for using and developing social media.

There are several sites that are helping shoppers create an exciting online experience; like ASOS Life, an online community that share fashion advice and shop virtual stores; Style Hive, a place for likeminded fashionistas to share style tips; and My It Things, where users create their own online magazine. There are also true virtual stores (touching on the Second Life ideals), like I Like Totally Love It and Gemsta.

One site that I really like is OSOYOU, where you can shop a range of popular stores but more importantly, compare prices and make shopping lists to help drive you around the real high street. This is where I think the opportunity is; rather than retailers hanging up their till receipts and giving in to online shopping, I think they should be using the internet as an opportunity to drive more people into their stores.

No doubt retailers are starting to fight back, with discount vouchers landing in my Twitter stream and inbox on an hourly basis from various friends passing them around, but I think there’s still more they can do. An example (an easy one for me to quote because I’m working on it) is Style Birmingham’s latest campaign, which aims to do just this. This Christmas is all about ‘One Mile of Style’, which revolves around an interactive map that shoppers can use to explore the city’s retail offering on their computer. They can find out more about the festive activities taking place at key retailers, print the map off and use it to deviate from their usual shops and get to know the city’s hidden gems. The new iPhone app – the first of its kind – also aims to bridge these two worlds and ensure the longevity of the high street.

So, basically I don’t have a massive, life-changing point, I just wanted to stick up for the high street and say that there’s still life in the old boy yet!