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Surviving the Season: 11 Ways to Prepare for the Festive Email Blitz

December 12th, 2017 | Latest News | 0 Comments

By David Fowler, Head of Compliance and Deliverability at Act-On Software

Christmas is nearly upon us, and we marketers have our work cut out for us.

We’ve already seen US trends in e-commerce – Black Friday, Cyber Monday – make their way to the UK; on Black Friday alone, businesses across the UK saw an 150% increase in on-site visits in comparison to the average four day period, and huge returns via email and cost-per-clicks (CPCs) – up by 9% and 5% respectively, and both highly lucrative channels for vendors.

We’ve also witnessed a broader transformation take place in the retail space. It’s no secret more consumers these days prefer to handle their shopping online, rather than in-store. According to  The Guardian, £2 of every £5 spent online during November and December will be spent online. This makes it even more important for marketers to ensure that their messages are loud enough to cut through the commotion in an already noisy digital space, and show consumers why their product or service are better than the rest.

Digital marketers therefore should start preparing themselves today, rather than waiting any longer, especially with just days to go until the holidays. Here are 11 ways how:

  1. Maintain good list hygiene. Your customers are bound to have multiple accounts (1.70 is the average per person) – some dormant, unused and expired – so it’s critical you check your lists regularly and ensure every email address you send to is active and engaged. Chances are, over a third of email lists go bad every year as accounts are continually created. In 2015, there were 4.4 billion email addresses worldwide – up substantially from previous years (2.9 billion in 2010, 3 billion in 2012).
    Marketers need to determine an appropriate period since the last engagement for a specific account to be removed or targeted to a re-engagement effort. Actively removing bounce backs will assure the highest possible percentage of successful deliveries.
  2. Start reactivation and re-engagement campaigns now. Identify opportunities to engage with accounts at risk of becoming dormant. Create offers and build personalised onboarding experiences for individual users.
  3. Complete customer profiles. The more data marketers have on individual customers, the better they can personalise offerings. Offering an incentive to customers to finish customer profiles, which may have been originally started some time ago, can lead to better data collection.
  4. Kick off nurturing campaigns. Advancing relationships with customers today will make them more receptive to holiday campaigns when released in November.
  5. Don’t just focus on the Christmas period. The holiday season is longer than just a day or two. Start engaging as soon as possible and continue throughout the holiday season. Analyse clicks and offer additional incentives if sales aren’t made on the first attempt.
  6. Review current levels of engagement. Analyse this information to identify patterns related to active versus inactive accounts. This also helps with deliverability as receivers can determine delivery placement based on user engagement.
  7. Avoid data fatigue. How much email is too much email is a tricky question. Inevitably, some email accounts will go dormant or asked to be removed. Dormant email address can get “converted” into spam traps that will affect your deliverability. If email lists have increasing numbers of dormant accounts, marketers can set policies to remove email address if reactivation plans aren’t successful. This can be reduced with structured onboarding strategies setting your clients expectations for volume and frequency.
  8. Create urgency. Uninteresting emails won’t be opened. Instill urgency in subject lines by offering a special discount that must be used within a certain period.
  9. Link email campaigns with other digital marketing activities. All digital marketing activities should be tracked and reinforced through each other. Banner ads, Adwords and SEO strategies can support email campaigns and close additional sales.
  10. Ensure networks can handle increases in email traffic. Evaluate last year’s activity and plan for a 10 to 20 percent increase in volume, and be prepared to add more sending capacity if needed.
  11. Set realistic expectations and goals. Look at past performance and current resources to set realistic digital sales goals. If sales aren’t living up to initial projections early in the season, avoid the temptation to increase the volume of emails, which will lead to list fatigue.

We’re already now well into the holiday season, which seems to start earlier and earlier each year, but it’s clear that the opportunity remains. With the right planning, email campaigns can still deliver great results for marketers during this festive crunch time, when they matter most.

Many of these best practices will also help prepare you for the upcoming implementation of the GDPR, as data subject management and their rights for accessing, managing and withdrawing consent is a big requirement effective next May, so it’s a good time to start.

As a final top tip, remember to document best practices as well as what didn’t work and incorporate findings in future campaigns.

David Fowler serves as Act-On Software‘s Head of Compliance and Deliverability. He has over 20 years of experience in the marketing industry, including the last fourteen years strictly focused on the issues associated with the digital channel including, email marketing, deliverability, social media, mobile, integrated marketing, marketing automation and digital privacy compliance.


December 12th, 2017 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Silverburn announces that leading sportswear retailer, JD Sports, has officially opened its significantly upsized store at the shopping centre in Glasgow.

The new upsized store is nearly double the size of the original unit, covering a total of 12,831 sq ft across two floors. Designed by an in-house team, the JD Sports store features the brand’s latest concept with a complete range of trainers, sports and fashion wear from big-name brands such as Nike, adidas, and The North Face.

In addition to strengthening Silverburn’s comprehensive retail offer, the recent investment in the upsize of JD Sports reflects the increasing demand for sports fashion and fitness-focused brands across the retail and leisure sector. JD Sports’ enhanced offer also complements the recently announced addition of PureGym, which is due to open adjacent to Silverburn’s 14-screen Cineworld next year.

David Pierotti, General Manager at Silverburn, commented: “JD Sports’ significant investment in its presence at Silverburn is testament to the centre’s reputation as the region’s leading retail and leisure destination. The brand’s decision to upsize reflects strong occupier demand and is a prime example of the current trend amongst retailers to invest in large stores in prime regional locations. Since opening, the brand has amassed a strong following from Silverburn’s far-reaching catchment, and we know that our loyal customers will be thrilled with this brand-new store.”

Head of Acquisitions at JD Sports, Warren Thompson, added: “We are delighted to open the doors of our brand new upsized store which provides an enhanced experience and a far greater range of products. The Silverburn store has always been key in this region and the opportunity to nearly double the size to create this flagship will enable us to keep building upon this success.”

Anchored by Debenhams, Silverburn is home to over 120 retailers, including H&M, River Island, and Flannels, which opened its first Scottish store earlier this year. Silverburn also has an extensive leisure offer with a 14 screen Cineworld and a comprehensive line-up of 20 restaurants, as well as the recently announced addition of PureGym.

For more information regarding Silverburn please visit


December 12th, 2017 | Latest News | 0 Comments

– Music and science combine to create happy festive track –

– Musicologist creates guide to writing joyful Christmas hit –

– Choirs to perform at intu centres to make festive shoppers happier –

Musicians, musicologists, composers and choirs have come together to create the happiest Christmas song ever to bring some extra festive joy at intu shopping centres nationwide in the lead up to Christmas.

The three minute track has been created as part of intu’s pledge to make shoppers smile andfeatures sleigh bells ringing in the chorus and 21 mentions of the word ‘Christmas’ – proven to evoke happiness in people.

The guide to writing the happiest Christmas song was developed by musicologist Dr Joe Bennett, who analysed the lyrical theme, tempo, musical key and vocals of 200 Christmas hits from Mariah Carey to Slade. The key attributes of the ultimate Christmas cracker include lyrical references to partying, Santa, snow, home, peace and love, sleigh bells in the chorus, a major key and an average tempo of 115 beats per minute.

‘Love’s Not Just For Christmas’ was written by British songwriter Steve Anderson – who has written and produced a stream of major hits for artists including Take That, Britney Spears, Westlife, Leona Lewis and Kylie Minogue – and singer-songwriter Harriet Green.

It has been recorded by the London Community Gospel Choir, who have previously sung with artists including Madonna, Blur and George Michael, and is being released on Spotify today. The song will also be performed by local choirs at intu’s retail and leisure destinations around the country in the lead up to Christmas to inspire the nation to ‘Get Christmassing’.

Roger Binks, customer experience director for intu, comments: “Music and festive songs are a huge part of the excitement and build up to Christmas and we wanted to find a way to make the shopping period an even happier one for intu shoppers. We were fortunate enough to work with some of the best Christmas songwriters around and we hope the in-centre performances from up and down the country bring a bit of added festive joy to shoppers and raises a smile for everyone that visits.”

Dr Joe Bennett said: “There is no simple formula for a successful song, and in practice songwriters combine their own experience, musical skills and personal creative preferences when writing. But we can infer listeners’ favoured song characteristics by analysing the most popular recordings – in this case, Christmas songs. In ‘Love’s Not Just For Christmas’, Steve and Harriet have done an amazing job, weaving together these musical elements into a really enjoyable, happy festive song that combines classic themes with their own original ideas.”

Steve Anderson said: “Over the years I have been lucky to enough to have written and produced Christmas tracks and albums for a number of artists including Kylie, Susan Boyle and Harriet, who co wrote this song with me. Hopefully we’ve risen to the challenge and provided a song people will love not only this Christmas, but for every Christmas to come.”

The ‘Happiest Christmas Song’ will be played at intu retail and leisure destinations around the country including intu Trafford Centre, intu Lakeside and intu Metrocentre from 4 December.

To listen to the song please visit or search for ‘Love’s Not Just For Christmas’ on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon Music.

Retailers must invest in user experience to win over Christmas shoppers who visit an average of seven online retailers before making a purchase

December 8th, 2017 | Latest News | 0 Comments

  • New research from Klarna shows Christmas preparation takes its toll, leaving almost a third of Brits exhausted by Boxing Day
  • Retailers must invest in their ecommerce strategy to win over Christmas shoppers looking to avoid the high street, as a quarter of Brits say in-store crowds are the biggest source of stress at Christmas
  • The average Brit spends 7.2 hours Christmas shopping, visiting 7 online retailers in the process

With Christmas just around the corner, new research reveals that there are simple ways that merchants can win over shoppers who are struggling with stress during the busy festive season. The new research by leading payments provider Klarna delves into the views of more than 2,000 consumers, and reveals that Brits today are so stressed out in the extended run up to Christmas that they’re overwhelmed when the day itself arrives.

The findings suggest that the burden of Christmas shopping is largely to blame for heightened stress levels. In-store crowds were the number one stress for a quarter of respondents, whilst finding the perfect gift was the biggest source of stress for 20% of those surveyed.

These pressures could have a big impact on the bottom line of merchants if they’re not addressed; more than a third of consumers have previously walked out of a shop in frustration as a result. This is not just a bricks and mortar issue – 1 in 10 respondents have abandoned their online basket in frustration when the process is too complex, suggesting there’s still work to be done to smooth the purchase process online.

Have a smooth Christmas

Merchants must ensure Christmas shopping is convenient, and that this extends to the payment process. Being mobile-centric, offering alternative payment options such as the ability to pay later, and enabling one-click repeat purchases will yield dividends.

With stress levels high pre-Christmas, it’s no surprise that finding the right present is a major concern for shoppers. But, despite visiting an average of 7 online retailers, 11 high street shops and spending an exhausting 7.2 hours Christmas shopping, it seems consumers are not always getting it right; over half (57%) of people surveyed have been stuck with unwanted gifts they couldn’t return.

Allowing customers to ‘try before they pay’ could assuage fears around unwanted gifts. This could help tempt people into taking a gamble on a gift as it removes the worry consumers may have about needing to return multiple items, as shoppers only pay once they’re happy with their purchase.

How to win over stressed shoppers

Retailers need to be thoughtful to win over customers who are being bombarded with messages, and are flitting through many retailers both online and offline. Enabling convenient payment processes can be a key point of difference for merchants. Letting customers delay the costs of present buying could help them make it through the purchase journey, with a fifth of consumers saying this would make Christmas shopping smoother for them. Consumers are no longer willing to head to one store for all their shopping. Instead, they’re hunting down the best deals and the most thoughtful gifts. Anything that makes online shopping easier for busy consumers will be a win for retailers.

Luke Griffiths, UK General Manager, Klarna, commented: “This research shows that the online customer journey at Christmas is fraught and can be easily fractured by a stressful moment. Retailers must be aware of this and invest in their user experience to deliver a smooth customer journey – from the first moment a customer spots your product to when it is sitting under the Christmas tree.

“Payments are often forgotten in the festive rush towards marketing and discounting. We want to help retailers offer their customers a smooth festive season with our payment solutions, including Pay later and Slice it. Being aware of stress levels and worries about gift buying helps retailers win over customers that are unsure about a gift or struggling with finances, to spread the cost.”

For more information about Klarna, visit

The White Company achieves record online trading over Black Friday and Cyber Monday

December 8th, 2017 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Luxury lifestyle retailer, The White Company, has announced record online sales in the run up to Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday, following the migration of its e-commerce business to The Retail Cloud Team’s Digital Commerce Channel.

The White Company’s e-commerce platform withstood an unprecedented peak trading period and the highest number of concurrent users ever seen.  The White Company experienced a 70% volume increase for customers visiting its website compared to last year’s Cyber Weekend and a 20% increase in sales conversions during the peak hour of trading. Systems all operated within their operating boundaries with no performance or reliability impacts.

The White Company’s platform is based on The Retail Cloud Team’s Digital Commerce Channel, an optimized Amazon Web Services (AWS) solution for SAP Hybris customers. The solution provided stability and ultimate performance for The White Company’s online retail business during the busiest retail period of the year.

Dominic McBrien, Multichannel Director at The White Company commented: “Modern retail is hugely competitive and Black Friday/Cyber Monday are the busiest trading days of the year, so providing a reliable online service to our customers during this weekend was a key priority for us. Website downtime not only leaves customers frustrated and disappointed, but can impact retailers’ bottom lines. We are extremely impressed with how The Retail Cloud Team’s solution has enabled us to deliver the best customer experience possible and exceed our cyber weekend targets, achieving record sales for the company.”

Phil Burnett, IT Director at The White Company commented: “Online and IT performance and stability is critical to successful peak trading periods. The Retail Cloud Team’s solution made planning for and operating over this peak period a seamless experience. The Digital Commerce Channel service gives our platform the flexibility, availability and performance we want.”

Peter Sharples, General Manager at The Retail Cloud Team said: “We’re very pleased that our Digital Commerce Channel has delivered such impressive results during this period for The White Company. The advanced flexibility and capability of public cloud systems is essential for growing retailers looking to future-proof their e-commerce platforms. During business critical times like Black Friday and the holiday season, retailers need a reliable online platform that delivers the best customer experience to consumers possible.”

Earlier this year it was announced that The Retail Cloud Team, a Piksel company and long-standing trusted technical advisor to The White Company, would migrate The White Company’s existing e-commerce platform onto Digital Commerce Channel. The Digital Commerce Channel service allowed The White Company to migrate from legacy infrastructure to reap the benefits of AWS public cloud including demand-based scaling, enhanced developer support and business continuity.

British Land completes its £60 million refurbishment of Meadowhall

December 8th, 2017 | Latest News | 0 Comments

British Land, joint owner of Meadowhall, one of the UK’s premier shopping destinations, is today celebrating the completion of the £60 million refurbishment of the centre.  This marks the end of a two-year programme, during which £40 million was invested in store upgrades by more than 70 brands including existing and new additions to Meadowhall’s line-up.

This combined investment of £100 million has already made a positive impact on performance, with footfall on Black Friday up 8%, making it the busiest on record.  The prime Zone A rental tone has risen to over £400, reflecting very strong demand for space with 30 new retailers signing in the last 18 months.

Charles Maudsley, Head of Retail, Leisure and Residential for British Land, said: “The transformation we have achieved at Meadowhall is a great example of how we have listened to our customers and responded to their needs to create space that works for shoppers and enables retailers to thrive in an omni-channel world.  It also demonstrates the value we place in working in partnership with the community to deliver significant, long-lasting benefits to the Sheffield City Region.”

Claire Barber, Head of Meadowhall for British Land, added: “Meadowhall is a very different place as a result of our investment.  It is lighter and brighter; the space is more modern and the offer is significantly enhanced so it is the first choice for shoppers across the region.  Together with our longer term plans for the centre, Meadowhall has a great future as one of the leading retail and leisure destinations in the UK.”

Highlights of the refurbishment include:

  • The creation of four districts each with a distinctive character and offer
  • Columns and bulkheads have been reduced or removed creating lighter, brighter malls, with new glazing,  improved lighting and new customer seating added
  • Double height flagship formats introduced by brands, including All Saints and Hollister
  • New brands added including the first-ever physical store for online retailer Joe Browns, as well as Michael Kors, Flannels, Urban Decay, Skinny Dip, Tag Heuer, iSmash, Diesel, Joules, Jack Wills, Neal’s Yard, Nespresso, T2, schuh Kids, Pret a Manger, GBK, Barburrito, and Tapas Revolution
  • Upsizings or increased brand presence by Primark, River Island, Sports Direct, Build-A-Bear, JD Sports, Virgin Holidays and The Entertainer
  • Redesigns by existing occupiers including House of Fraser, M&S, Yo! Sushi, Timberland, Ted Baker, and Molton Brown.


Through the transformation, British Land has delivered a range of benefits for the Sheffield City Region:

  • Over 1,200 jobs were created to deliver the refurbishment, with 35% of the workforce living in Sheffield and 41% overall from the Sheffield City Region
  • Almost 50% of the £60 million spend has been awarded to SMEs
  • 70% of the project spend was made within 25 miles of Meadowhall, with 55% being spent in the Sheffield City Region
  • Local companies employed on the transformation include Dearneside, SCS Group, EE Ingleton Engineering, Clearline, EMR and the Ron Hull Group.

The refurbishment of Meadowhall will be followed by the development of a Leisure Hall, which was granted planning consent in a unanimous vote by Sheffield City Council’s planning committee in September.  The £300 million extension will add 330,000 sq ft of new catering and leisure to Meadowhall, as well as enhanced public realm and other amenities.

The International VM Awards by Retail Design Expo – Call for entries is now open!

December 7th, 2017 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Following a hugely successful launch of the VM Awards at Retail Design Expo 2017, the initiative makes a comeback for 2018.

Focusing on windows and in-store displays and with a broader seasonal coverage in 2018, the International VM Awards by RDE will recognise and reward the very best examples of windows, POP and displays across all sectors and seasons. An independent and prestigious judging panel of top retail designers, visual merchandisers and marketing experts will meet in March 2018 to decide the shortlist and winners. All shortlisted entries will be displayed at Retail Design Expo 2018 and the winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony during the event.

All suppliers, retailers, brands and shopping centres are invited to enter. Entering is easy, no long forms – so please do give your hard-working teams the chance to be recognised and rewarded. Please do submit online as many entries as you like here:

Deadline for entries is 22nd December 2017. Contact Valeria Perciany David at  if you need some assistance in compiling your entry.

The HVAC & Refrigeration Show 2018 – Find the latest products and solutions all under one roof

December 6th, 2017 | Latest News | 0 Comments

The biennial HVAC & Refrigeration Show, the only national exhibition for the refrigeration, air conditioning, ventilation, heating and heat pump sectors, will take place next month.  From 23rd to 25th January, market-leaders from across the sectors will gather at ExCeL London, giving visitors a chance to source the latest products and solutions all under one roof.

On stand E16, award-winning building component supplier Brymec will highlight its innovative approach to providing solutions to customers. Brymec’s team will be on hand to offer further information on its industry-leading customer offering, including its brand new website with special offers available for those signing up over the course of the show.

Brymec Marketing Manager Wayne D’Aranjo says: “The show will be an ideal opportunity for those who haven’t worked with us previously to speak to our team to find out what we can offer. We plan to showcase pioneering, top quality products that make the installer’s life easier and more productive – but we don’t want to simply show them in a static display. I believe our stand promises to be one of the most striking and interactive.”

External filtration specialist RAB Specialist Engineers Ltd – known in the UK as RABScreen –  will be on stand C6, exhibiting its air intake filter screens which can be manufactured to fit any size or shape using its unique mounting and deployment systems.

Commenting on the company’s presence at the show, Managing Director Richard Betts says: “Our presence at the show is to demonstrate our commitment to energy efficient filtration, and to ensure that anyone involved in the sector gets the opportunity to buy the right products from the only external filter specialist in the UK.”

Visitors to the stand will be able to browse samples of RAB Screen’s media and magnetic styles, as well as the all new Keder track and cord system and the GVS Bacticell filter.

With Thermofin’s product development focusing on efficient and natural-friendly solutions, visitors to stand A25 will be able to find out more about the company’s new heat exchangers, electrical components and elements improving the efficiency of its products.

Thermofin’s qualified technical engineers will be available to answer any questions regarding its heat exchangers operated with natural refrigerants and reduced power consumption, and assist with knowledge in order to realise new common projects.

A full list of companies taking to the lively exhibition floor can be found online here:

Further to sourcing new products from market-leaders, visitors will be able to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge on offer at the show.

The brand new Industry Insight Series will see a leading panel of experts participate in a number of debates centred on key industry issues over the course of the three day exhibition.

One insight will focus on how buildings can be measured for ‘wellness’ and the impact this can have on its occupants, while the other will look at the future of chilled food transport in the wake of Brexit, with Chief Executive of the Food Store & Distribution Federation, Chris Sturman, acting as chair.

The show will also feature two seminar theatres; The HVACR Theatre sponsored by Opteon and the Training & Skills Theatre sponsored by Toshiba. The action-packed seminar programme will feature CPD accredited presentations by key industry figures from market-leading companies. The full seminar programme will be announced in due course.

For more information and to register for The HVAC & Refrigeration Show, visit



Fortnum & Mason adopts Rant & Rave’s Fast Feedback to drive its customer experience programme

December 5th, 2017 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Rant & Rave, the UK leader in real-time customer engagement technology, today announces it has been appointed by Fortnum & Mason, the world renowned luxury retail brand, to enhance its customer experience programme and maximise the quantity and quality of customer feedback.

Fortnum & Mason, the iconic brand renowned for unforgettable experiences and exceptional service, will implement Rant & Rave’s Fast Feedback solution across both in-store and online, enabling the brand to consistently capture customer sentiment across the entire customer journey (SMS, email and listening posts). The Fast Feedback solution is designed to bring full visibility of customer engagement to all levels of the business: from store managers and the customer service team accessing data via a dashboard, through to the Executive team receiving feedback in real-time to adapt processes and celebrate outstanding service by employees.

Zia Zareem-Slade, Customer Experience Director, at Fortnum & Mason, says: “A quality experience and service is synonymous with the Fortnum & Mason brand and as such understanding how customers feel about us is a key priority. With a discerning customer base, it’s vital we know what we’re doing well and what we could be doing better – and most importantly in real-time. We decided to work with Rant & Rave because we know that they understand the importance of capturing how the customer is feeling and in the moments that matter. We are confident that these insights will enable us to make strategic and tactical business decisions allowing us to evolve and enhance the customer experience we are known for.”

Kenny Bain, CEO of Rant & Rave, says: “We are delighted to be working with such a globally renowned brand as Fortnum & Mason and one which prides itself on delivering an outstanding level of service for its customers. Fortnum & Mason were looking for a real-time provider that could support their overall objectives to drive a more customer-centric culture by capturing feedback throughout the customer journey and to ensure consistency of service excellence.

“Our partnership will enable them to have an even greater understanding of their global customer base, what’s important to them and how the Fortnum & Mason experience makes them feel. After all, emotions drive the hearts, minds and wallets of today’s consumers.”

Rant & Rave’s Fast Feedback solution allows brands to capture feedback in real-time through whatever channel suits their audience best and then interpret this information via a Sentiment Engine to accurately understand every word. Once the feedback has been captured and analysed it’s presented back on a customisable dashboard, so brands can respond to customers and rescue any Ranters in the moment.

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