The cupcake industry gets digital in New York

It seems the cupcake industry in New York understands how to use to digital to engage their customers in a way that gives them a great customer experience and leaves them wanting more. New York based cupcake store Baked by Melissa not only makes AMAZING bite sized cupcakes which are perfect for a little treat without feeling guilty but they have integrated digital instore to help you select the perfect cupcake for you. (and it’s fun). Check it out here.

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Not so innovative Digital in New York

Whilst exploring New York on my recent trip I was surprised that I didn’t see more digital integration in retail considering New York is supposedly the capital of digital signage let alone other cool uses for  digital technology. Most of what I saw was pretty basic and was nothing to get excited about. After all, who gets excited about advertising on screens! A few of the things I thought were somewhat interesting that could’ve been taken to a much higher level were:

  1. Digital screens above some subway stations (although most just had advertising on them)
  2. Digital drink machines in McDonalds (although a lack of digital menu boards in store was surprising)
  3. Fashion & Instagram integration in Columbus Circle (was an interesting concept however did not have a lot of signage to explain the concept)
  4. Projection (around the current political campaign) which seemed like a pop up street campaign
  5. TD Banks featured digital signage in their windows but again they were doing anything interesting with the content

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Whilst our trends follow those in the US, I was hoping to see much more innovation that what is currently happening over there. Some of this stuff was pretty basic and although I fell in love with the cupcake ATM and the work being done at Normal, I can’t see I was impressed with the mainly basic integrations I encountered.  Seems like there is plenty of room for improvement and at the very least for Australian brands to do it bigger and better.

C’mon Aussies, we can do so much better than this. It would be great if they came out here to see all the innovative concepts we are doing with digital, not the other way around.



There is no such thing as Normal

I was so excited to secure an interview with Nikki Kaufman, founder and CEO of Normal. “Normal,” the name of a company that creates made-to-order ear buds via 3D printing. Normal’s business model makes it easy for custom-headphone-loving shoppers. For $199US, customers can download the Normal app, take photos of each of their ears, then send those photos to corporate headquarters. From there, Normal works its magic via 3D printing, then overnights each pair of specialized earphones. Customers usually receive their product within 48 hours of placing an order.

Founder Nikki Kaufman has big plans for Normal and there are new products on the drawing board. (more will be revealed over the coming months). The opportunities for 3D products are huge and the combined retail & production space in the New York office not only hosts many events but you can watch your Normals being printed in store which is pretty damn cool. A former Quirky employee Nikki saw an opportunity to develop the product when she herself could not find earphones that fit or stay in so a year later she launched Normal to the public.  Feedback from customers to date has been overwhelmingly positive and the simple step by step process makes it easy to order from anywhere in the world, which for a custom product is hard to do normally. But Normal is anything but, and using the app and following some simple instructions you can have custom earphones in hours. The process is actually this easy as I found while ordering a custom pair while in store with Nikki:

  • Download the Normal App
  • Take an ear Selfie
  • Select colours and cable length
  • They are printed on the 3D printer and you have your order in 48 hours

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Surprisingly the focus is not just online but in store to give customers an experience that is quick, easy and best of all, affordable.  From the moment you enter the Chelsea store you get a sense of success and cool. With it’s Apple like environment you are surrounded by technology that has a real impact on your experience not just for the sake of using technology. Whilst social media is a big driver of brand visibility the ability to hold very cool ‘experience’ events in store is equally important for them. With the space being booked for all types of corporate and promotional events, the approach that Normal have is unique but works for the product and brand and most importantly the customer experience.

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Nikki’s passion for what she does is evident in her business approach and her entrepreneurial ‘the sky’s the limit’ attitude towards the brand.  You get the sense that there is no way this girl won’t succeed and I wouldn’t be surprised if Normal becomes a household name over the coming years.

Normal is anything but normal. It is a must see (if in New York) or visit online if you’re anywhere else in the world. And if you think that’s easy, if you’re in New York City you can watch them making your order. How cool is that!!  The store is located at: 150 West 22nd St, Chelsea NYC

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Do you need therapy for your social media addiction?

Talk Space is a great company I literally stumbled across while they were doing a pop up near Flatiron Building in New York. They aren’t against social media and in fact many of their employees use it, however they offer a unique service that offers therapy for people who are dependant on Social media to function. No I am not joking! This company exists to serve a real issue, born from our growing dependence on the digital world.

Research has shown that use of social media is associated with negative body image, eating disorders, depression, drives cyber bullying and can negatively impact anxiety levels and relationships (how many people liked my post) J

Talk Space  is tackling the problem head on and offer a 12 week program founded on evidence based treatment practises that address a range of mental health issues that Social media is associated with.

As a big user of social media I think it is great that there is support for people who need it but it is also sad that some people put so much emphasis on their self worth through putting so much value on the number of likes or friends they have. I wonder if these people had low self esteem before using social media?

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Check them out here:

Uniqlo – digital and fashion collide!!

Uniqlo is known for its innovative clothing using technologies to bring more warmth, more lightness, better design & comfort. So it stands to reason that they integrate digital technology into their stores. Their flagship 5th Ave New York store features digital signage throughout and the digital elements suit the brand’s culture and store environment unlike many stores which think that just sticking a digital screen on a wall is all you need to do. #fail

uniqlo  uniqlo2

The content Uniqlo have on the screens is on brand and makes sense for their brand.  As a company that is committed to the community and is socially responsible the messages are not all about driving sales but sharing the brand messages which it does very well. Coming from an avid shopper and connoisseur of great instore environments, I congratulate Uniqlo their successful integration using digital to enhance not just as an add on. It was a pleasure shopping with you (even if my credit card doesnt agree with me).

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I want a Cupcake ATM?

Who doesn’t like cupcakes? I heard about the cupcake ATM before I got to New York and it was instantly added to my ‘Must Do’ list during our time here. It is so easy to use – make your selection, swipe your card

Then seconds later you get your selected cupcake delivered in this cute little box.

Check them out on your next visit to the US as they have locations all over the country. In New York you can find them here: 780 Lexington Avenue New York, between 60th & 61st streets (near bloomingdale’s). Open 24 hours


Augmented reality a hit at Lego

Big kids and small kids are having fun playing with Lego at Rockefeller Centre New York Store.

Whilst the store is unimpressive and I was surprised the lack of digital in store, I did like the Augmented Reality screen that lets you see what your Lego kit would look like when built. Bit of fun however, like Starbucks there was no call to action to make me want to buy from them. Entertainment but another lost opportunity for sales.