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Buy Yorkshire 2015: Round-up of Day Two

30 April, 2015

Buy Yorkshire mobile

Here is my round-up of day two at Buy Yorkshire 2015 – the North’s biggest business to business (B2B) conference and exhibition.

After a cracking start to Buy Yorkshire yesterday – with the return of the #billionPoundPanel, fascinating talks by Tom Elvidge (UBER) and Carrie Longton (, as well as some inspiration from Sir Ranulph Fiennes – I was excited to see what Buy Yorkshire 2015 day two would hold.

Jacqueline Gold, CEO of Ann Summers and Knickerbox

My first seminar of the day was with Jacqueline Gold, credited with “feminising the sex industry and bringing it to the Tupperware set” and “turning companies, ‘run by women, for women’ into profitable high street brands.”

Jacqueline began by summarising the Ann Summers journey from a first year annual turnover of £83,000 to the £135m they turned over last year. The company now gets half a million unique web visitors per week.

How did they achieve this and what advice did Jacqueline have for online retailers?

Jacqueline Gold Ann Summer Buy Yorkshire 2015

How UK retailers can win in the digital and social revolution

(1) A strong brand identity and USP

Firstly, she said, you need to have a unique selling point. In a crowded market place you need to stand out. Ann Summers gained market share by becoming known as controversial and innovative (the more controversial, the better – she says!). Jacqueline believes it’s the CEO’s responsibility to achieve that and ensure brand values are upheld and brand messages are consistent.

Jacqueline noted that Burberry and John Lewis were also both good at creating strong brand identities. Both have kept up with fast changing pace of the retail landscape and both are good examples of brands setting the future. Nike is another with a strong brand.

A clear proposition – Primark and Lidl do this particularly well, occupying a particular section of the market that is widely understood by consumers.

(2) Clever marketing and PR

This is as much about grabbing reactive opportunities as it is about planning proactive campaigns. A good example was the whole Fifty Shades of Grey phenomena. The film isn’t that great, but it outsold Harry Potter. There are big opportunities to take advantage of something that relates to the business. Ann Summers achieved great retail success with their Fifty Shades of Grey campaign.

(3) Digital and social media

Being active on social media allows you to spot opportunities and stay ahead of the game – if you’re not on there, you’ll miss out. Social media feeds can really help boost ecommerce growth. You’ve got to keep up with young people generally, how they use SM and digital etc. Social media feeds, she said, will drive future ecommerce growth.

(4) CEOs on Twitter

Jacqueline sees Twitter (and indeed social media in general) as an key communications channel. She noted her complete surprise that there are still so many CEOs not on Twitter – a missed opportunity. It’s a perfect opportunity, she says, for CEOs to be forming relationships with customers, increasing engagement and building trust. She uses #WOW (Women on Wednesdays) to empower women and give advice to women.

I asked Jacqueline this question: “I loved your comment about CEOs on Twitter and your mention of the #WOW hastag. Do you have any advice for CEOs engaging on Twitter, and would the advice you give women be the same as you would give men?

She said any advice she would give women would be the same for men. The biggest thing is just about confidence and putting yourself out there, both online and offline. Women should feel confident in doing so, even in a male saturated industry.

(5) Instore digital technology

Instore technology will play a big part in future retail developments at Ann Summers, and indeed instore tech is a big growth area for the whole retail sector. Incidentally, both John Lewis and Burberry have also been recently dabbling in the new iBeacon technology, running instore mobile campaigns. (iBeacon is a new technology in which low-powered/low-cost transmitters can notify nearby iOS 7 or 8 devices of their presence, enabling a smart phone to perform actions when in close proximity to an iBeacon.)

(6) International reach

“Selling online to international customers is the biggest growth area for UK retailers”. Ann Summers international traffic is growing at double the rate of its domestic traffic. They are now selling in the US, Australia and most European countries – and each of these now has their own international website. ASOS, Net-a-porter and Boohoo are all good examples of other companies doing this well.

(7) A seamless omnichannel presence

As well as extending geographical (international) reach through their own websites, UK retailers also need to extend their reach across multiple channels and platforms. Research shows that people who shop on all channels spend more than those who shop on one channel, so multichannel retail offers greater opportunities.

Ann Summers is now partnering with (and selling through) Amazon, Ebay and ASOS. UK retailers need to look at partnering. As well as ASOS and Ebay, Farfetch and Etsy also offer simple ways to open up new channels.

Whatever size business you have, should try selling through different channels as it gives you the opportunity to test different products and different markets.

Jacqueline was a great speaker and her enthusiasm and innovative ideas really gave me food for thought. I’m looking forward to working with our retail and ecommerce clients on developing some of these areas through their website development and digital retail channels.

Raja Saggi UK head of B2B marketing, Google

Following Google’s algorithm change last week to prioritise mobile-optimised websites, Raja’s talk was packed full of tips and useful information, focusing on how to win at mobile.

For example:

  • There are 75 milion smart phones in UK – more than people!
  • 25% of people check their smartphones within 5 minutes of waking up
  • Over 45% of teenagers use smartphones whilst in the bathroom
  • 40% of online sales are now through a mobile

Many businesses are clamouring to create their own apps. But according to Raja, having a mobile site is far more important than an app – an app should come after.

Top 10 mobile website design tips below:

Raja Saggi Google mobile tips Buy Yorkshire 2015

In addition to the above points:

  • Call to action: When designing your CTA, think about people with fat thumbs and don’t make them too small and fiddly.
  • Mobile menu: You really don’t need everything in a mobile menu
  • Mobile forms: The less you ask for on a form, the better


So that was my quick review of Buy Yorkshire 2015!

All that’s left to say are some thank yous:

  • To the Caltech CRM and Virtual DCS teams for our catch ups – really good to see you all
  • To David Powell from Auditel for the pick’n’mix on your stand – it was a much-needed sugar rush after lunch!
  • To the organisers and Yorkshire Mafia team: Rosie, Becky, Nicola and Geoff – for yet again putting together an amazing Buy Yorkshire conference

Well done to all for what was an extremely busy but fun couple of days. I learned a massive amount and have been challenged in a positive way by the talks, which will help me continue developing my business. I can’t wait for the next Yorkshire Mafia event!

Follow the conversation:

@BuyYorkshire | @MafiaYorkshire | #BuyYorkshire

Tweet me at @jrconsultancy to share your Buy Yorkshire 2015 stories and ideas or call me to discuss your digital marketing campaigns.

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