Steve Lidbury: Refocus on the human interaction and professional store experiences


The FashionTech Berlin 2020 has done well to get Steve Lidbury to speak on the main stage this year. Steve is executive principal at Eight Inc.; essentially the company behind the in-store experience at Apple. Eight Inc. has been involved in the development of the client experience with Apple for over 30 years. Needless to say, his talk got the crowd talking.

Whereas most fashion retailer are trying to nail an omni-channel strategy, Steve Lidbury urges all to take a mono channel approach

The Mono Channel Approach refers to the notion that customers do not see a difference between online and offline channels. The experience needs to be seamless and transparent.

However, there are substantial challenges in omni-channel retail. He talks about the challenges moving from an online omni-channel world, to an immersive store experiencing that combines the digital world with human interaction. This, blending of “virtual-” and “personal-service reality” is the mono channel. In Eight Inc.’s opinion, there is only one channel. Retailer must stop to treat every communication method, as a singular means to an end.



Communication is not as straight forward in a digital day and age. Whereas some channels are quick and flexible, more traditional means of communication still need to catch on. Radio, TV and even newspapers, still have a long way to go. But even worse so, these medium still dictate the way we communicate with our customers.

Brands and retailers need to move away from broadcasting to their customers across all channels to rather concentrating on a dialogue with their customer. Steve Lidbury, FashionTech Berlin, January 14 2020

Steve Lidbury ist Executive Principal bei Eight Inc

In an omni-channel world, the pieces of the puzzle are not necessarily intertwined

A fashion retailer, that takes an omni-channel approach to marketing, generally does not use one single type/string of customer communication. The communication-channels might not be connected at all. Everything the retailer does, helps to promote brand loyalty and success, but it is better when all elements of the puzzle are connected.


From Multi to Omni is the first step

Steve Lidbury ist Executive Principal bei Eight Inc

In a perfect world, all marketing communication is tailored to the customer. We live in a multi-channel world. Very few fashion retailer truly combine their customer communication and understand the dependencies between channels.

The first step is to move away from multi-channel to omni-channel; at least in an omni-channel world, the customer is addressed on all channels. Not necessarily equally, but they are addressed

One great example Steve Lidbury mentioned was that fashion retailer need to incorporate mobile applications into their buying experience. One company who have done that really well are Xiaomi. They have created a store experience that incorporate the mobile world with the dialogue with the store works. If you live near one of Xiaomi’s flagship stores, be sure to drop by (I will surely do so from my part on the next possible occasion).


Our experience

I can fully relate to Steve Lidbury’s comments. We face the same challenge with our fashion clients on a daily basis. The thing is, most fashion retailer tend to focus on single (marketing) channels. They either believe a channel “works” or it doesn’t.

However, in my professional opinion this simply does not hold true. All channels a customer uses to learn more about your products and services, matter. It is merely a question of prioritization and resources on how you would like to deal with them.

At the end of the day, it is important to understand which parts of your communication funnel are used – for what purpose. Some channels are inspirational, others are more sales driven, and others are yet again crucial to customer loyalty. Approaching your brand and communications funnel as one single entity, helps to see the customer in a whole new light.

Whenever we get the request if we can look into the work of (social media) agency XYZ, we always ask: “why?” What are the actual issues you would like to solve? Where are customer pain points that need to be addressed? It is essential to understand the full picture before judging the work of an agency – or internal employees…


The fear of too much digital

Many firms fear that incorporating too much digital in their stores will freeze the human interaction. And this might most definitely be true. Yet, it is imperative that some technical advancements help customers as well.

Think about the giant iPads McDonald’s use in their restaurants. These screens enabled customers to feel free to order what they actually wanted to have, without feeling bad. McDonald’s rolled out the digital screens in most international stores, and sales have gone up considerably.

We need to use the digital world as a tool and focus the brand conversation on the human interaction. Steve Lidbury, FashionTech Berlin, January 14 2020

Yet, the stores still have their traditional face to the customer. The employees are there to help and will take your order at the counter, too. Furthermore, the well known boards that communicate the “burger of the day” are also still there. This is because they know these are an important means of communication.


What’s in store?

In fashion retail, though – and especially in stores, service is key. If your brand’s in-store personnel are professional, know how to speak with customers and offer a great service, you will continue to run a good business. Tech should not be evasive, but enable the employees to do a better job.

The service of an employee who can tell you whether or not your size is on stock within mere seconds, is certainly perceived as positive. Yet, not all brands and retailer are ready for 3D body scans and other high-tech innovations. You need to ask yourself, first: “Are my clients ready for tech innovations?” And after that ask yourself: “What do my customers expect from me?”

At GANDT Ventures, we help you answer these questions. Together with your team, customers and using the right performance marketing tools to get the insights you need. Meet us right next to the main stage at the Fashion Tech Berlin 2020, today or tomorrow (January 14 and 15, 2020).

@Steve Lidbury, thank you for the inspiring talk!


More about Steve Lidbury

LinkedIn Profile

Website: Eight Inc.

Author: Remco Livain, Twitter: @rlivain

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