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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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

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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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Starbucks – integrating digital & coffee?

I love seeing how the worlds leading brands are using digital and integrating it into stores and the customer experience. Starbucks, always a leader in innovation and using digital tools effectively are using digital screens to tap into the tourist experience. When walking past the Times Square Starbucks, I noticed an interactive screen that people were having some fun with so of course, I had to stop & check it out.

The screen in store lets you create a digital postcard to send to people which is a cute idea. Process was simple although the touch screen wasn’t the most responsive. You just take your photo, choose a New York themed background and put in your email details. Then you receive a digital postcard to forward to family and friends.

Whilst it was entertaining it lacked a call to action whilst in store which is unexpected as a customer (I would expect to receive some sort of offer you use in store) and a lost opportunity for the brand to make a sale. You’ve got my attention then you let me walk out the door without capitalising on it??  I often rant about businesses missing the most basic of opportunities and you can see that the biggest brands in the world also do it.  (but shouldn’t they know better)?

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Digital Downloaded in New York

Digital & travel are the perfect combination

As much as I love living in Australia, we are behind when it comes to digital and innovation and there is nothing better than travel, to be inspired and get new ideas. So when I booked my trip to New York I started to think about how I could share some of the cool digital stuff that is happening in New York during my trip (between shopping stops of course).

So after brainstorming with my team, I decided to combine my love of travel and digital and create the Digital Downloaded project. Over the next 2 weeks I will be sharing how digital tools, products and accessories are making my trip more efficient and less stressful. Plus also showcasing some very cool products I discovered to make sure my long plane trip and my time in New York is also comfortable.

Digital Downloaded will be focused on our social channels listed below and you will see regularly posts here on the blog also.

We will also be using Periscope for short videos and have lined up a couple of very cool interviews with innovative digital companies that I know you will love. I am so excited about them.  Project hashtag is: #digitaldownloaded

Facebook: Digital Conversations
Instagram & Twitter: Digital_Tanya

If you want to do a good deed for the day, share with your fellow corporate travellers and professionals no matter where they are in the world. We know the content & tips that we will be sharing will be very useful and we hope you enjoy following us (hubby is my porter, navigator and cameraman) on our travels.