Helping independent retailers with digital engagement with the “Pi street” #IndieRetail #PiStreet by @PhilCampbell

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 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!

pi street examples

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:

  1. Install a test bed across the city in phase one (that’s what this funding is all about – see
  2. 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
  3. 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 or you can call my mobile on 07414 770714.

Thanks for reading,


This blog was written by Phil Campbell.

phil campbellPhil 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 (verisign)

Phil’s current projects include meetdotdot and meetcellbee – his experiments with electric transport, refitting the 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 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!


About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email
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