Adventures in Merseyside: part 4

Each time I come home I come back with some insights into life outside the media sector and outside central London. Here’s the latest dispatch:

The early bird catches the senior customer

I had to get my driving license replaced since it runs out the middle of next month and you can only do it at certain post offices. If you do it by post to the DVLA, you have to send in your passport and its only for British subjects. So I headed into Ellesmere Port (home of the Vauxhall/Opel Astra) where they have a well appointed post office as part of the ASDA superstore.
Cheap parking
I dropped my Dad off at work and got to Ellesmere Port by 8:30 in the hope of being first in the queue at 9am. There were a couple of old people in the queue already and one of them pointed out that the Post Office opens at 8am to cater to local demand.

The place wasn’t exactly buzzing as the locals would say, but there was a lot of people out and doing shopping at that time of the morning. Many of them with the aid of sticks and various type of wheeled frames. Those shops that were open were doing good business and the National Milk Bar in the Port Arcades had a stream of customers that the staff seemed to know by name. Shops that offered a bargain with names like Pound World and The 99p Store seemed to have a number of people inside and a small queue at the tills. The moral of the story is that the early bird catches the senior pound.

This means that there are potential opportunities for time-of-the-day bounded offers and bargains to deliver results  and provides a definite window of seniors marketing.

The interface of retail and social media

Given my role I am really interested in two areas: where the rubber hits the road in terms of technology and people, and technology and business respectively and my trip to Cheshire Oaks gave me some food for thought in both of these areas. For those of you not familar with it; Cheshire Oaks is a collection of outlet shops and restaurants with free parking. It is a shopping destination with coaches of people arriving from around the North of England to shop there.

I parked up my car and followed a family who sounded like they were from Burnley towards the shops. Our Burnley family were talking about how hard it was to organise the different family members to come across Facebook, email, SMS. There has got to be an app or service in there somewhere?

Like most shopping districts at the moment, Cheshire Oaks has a few empty units. Generally in a place like this; retail units are like the teeth in Shane McGowan’s mouth – you tend to notice what’s missing rather than what’s there. The management team did a couple of smart things.
QRcode at Cheshire Oaks
They vinyl wrapped empty retail units using them as signage and as a way of gathering customer data. This vinyl wrapping was also an act of reputation management; too many empty retail units visible and it kills the atmosphere of the place.  The QRcode pictured takes you directly through to a form to sign up for emails about special events and promotions at Cheshire Oaks.
Social media at Cheshire Oaks
They used the window wraps to also highlight their social media presence, though QRcodes to direct people to them as well would have been even more powerful. If you assigned a tracking redirect like bit.ly you could even do real-world A-B testing of different wrap design and colour-way combinations.