This guest blog has been provided by Phil Campbell, the brains behind a fascinating innovation for independent retailers and consumer facing brands… “PI STREET”, a tool that will help businesses with digital and social customer engagement…
Business owners who are integral to their communities really care…
I remember a story that my nan told me when I was young about how she went about buying a corner shop almost opposite her house. She had had her eye on this shop for a number of years, along with a vision of what it could be. As she was tightly integrated in the local community, and as my granddad was a union man for Rolls Royce, everyone knew Tom and Irene. Her deep connection to the community meant she had a clear idea about what would work well. Her vision was that she would run a wool shop out of this corner store, and I remember her face lighting up when she talked about it. She had fond memories of her shop. The independence it brought her, the customers that she got to talk to, the stories that she got to share with them. She loved that shop. Actually loved it and at the end of the story (which she told me many times) she would move to the front window and pull back the white window voile to look lovingly at her old shop. That story has remained me with for a very long time. My grandparents, in my eyes, were the ones who told me stories that really inspired me…
Supporting local, independent businesses where I love to spend my time (and money)!
Fast forward to today, I tend to gravitate towards family run businesses that love what they do, that care about their customer, that concern themselves with the customer experience, the quality of their product and the conversation with their regulars. I’m attracted at my core by the conversations between people, those relationships, and what they stand for.
As a “basement geek” at cellar54.tv I wanted to show that I cared back about the local independent coffee bar and food places that I frequented regularly and decided to try and help with some of the digital social media engagement that I’m used to doing for small to medium sized technology businesses.
Marrying digital engagement, low-cost technology and the internet… Pi Street was born!
The question I asked myself was “How could I marry digital engagement, low cost technology and the heavy lifting of the internet together what did not interfere with the shop going about its business?”
Step forward again, and the answer was “The pi street” which is taking low cost, brand new, British made, technology (the raspberry pi computer) and marrying it with second hand monitors (up-cycling). With this we could provide (for FREE) a system that would be cheap to run and easy to maintain. Simple graphics, some videos, and other content that we could provide for these independent businesses.
Not commercial. Social. Social nudges for their customers to engage with them digitally online after they have enjoyed their real-world service experience. Something that shop owners often will forget to do when they are in the moment of the actual sale.
The Pi Street plans are evolving…
Since we came up with the concept we have added to the equation by actually linking all the screens together with a cloud based system that enables us to remotely update the screens with fresh content, at any time, making it easier for us to manage the output remotely on behalf of the independent retailers.
Our first phase roll out of ten screens is something that we are hoping that the local community will empower us to perform. We have already installed two systems from our own money in Hartley’s and jack Craggs in Nottingham and the plan is to roll out another ten across the city.
Here are some examples of it in action… Every screen is a Pi Street installation!
Help us to help local independent businesses to leverage the social, digital world and cement deeper relationships with their customers
We are currently raising funds for Pi Street on kickstarter, a crowdsourcing platform that helps raise funds to build projects. We are doing well. It’s about 48% funded, but we are running out of time. We need help to make this total. The vision for the project has three phases:
- Install a test bed across the city in phase one (that’s what this funding is all about – see http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/philcampbell/thepistreet-socialscreens-for-the-high-street-inde)
- To raise a lot more money in phase two to build a web TV channel from content around the city and to train students from local collages to be brand advocates for their own town centres, and
- Phase three will be to learn from the previous phases in order to roll something like this out nationwide!
Why does this matter? Independent stores are the social life blood of our high street.
Independent stores are the social life blood of our high street. They add to the retail mix, connect the bigger retail brands together in a retail tapestry that draws people together. If we lose these businesses or have lots of retails spaces vanish what is the impact of the social disconnect we have from having less space for people to get together in and communicate? It’s my vision that Pi Street will help to enhance the connection between the community and their local, independent businesses and for it to be a contributing factor to their survival.
Feel free to get in touch if you want to have a chat about how we can enable your town or city with low cost digital engagement for your independents in your high street, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call my mobile on 07414 770714.
Thanks for reading,
This blog was written by Phil Campbell.
Phil Campbell is a social video pioneer, having been part of the original Seesmic, Qik and 12-seconds communities, becoming an early Nokia advocate for their mobile video influencer program, and helping many companies in the UK get online with their social/online video programs. he won an award at the vloggers in 2006 and went on five years later to help out the town of phil campbell, alabama after a tornado. he is a brand advocate for watch.tv (verisign)
Phil’s current projects include meetdotdot and meetcellbee – his experiments with electric transport, refitting the cellar54.tv studio with new sets and solidifying funding for his Citydeal project, which would enable young people (under 25) to get back to work using cellar54 as a media-making space to create content for remote working via the web. Recently, Phil spoke at TedX Nottingham in the UK.
Also after seven years of experimenting in social media sold the domain name asset me.dm to twitter during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic games which made him very very happy for at least a few years and allowed him to leave a trust fund for his daughter!