The Creative Showcase (13-14 /09/16) may be over, but its spirit remains in Lush Connect - a custom-made app that links staff, customers and the wider Lush world together in one digital space.
Launched at the showcase, the app is an emporium of all things Lush. Inside it you can explore product information, discover exclusive releases, learn through augmented reality, and exercise your voice using a one-stop-shop for social media. It is available to everyone, so both staff and customers have access to the same information.
Adam Goswell heads up the Digital Innovation Team at Lush, and explains why this is the right direction for the business.
“Lush Connect was initially released for the showcase as a tool for people to find their way around and see what was on, and also to get access to a wealth of learning materials.
“But Connect has a longer term vision, and that is to be a tool to connect all staff and all customers globally. At the core it is a bit like LinkedIn meets Facebook. You can create a profile, say who you are, where you work, where you have worked, and you can say what your skills are, what your passions are - all of those things, and then you can connect with other staff in and outside your team and country.”
At first glance the idea of an app may seem disconnected from the handmade ethos Lush is built on, but Connect is just an extension of the close relationship Lush has always had with its customers and staff.
In the early days customers sent in their thoughts and ideas through letters pages in Lush Times and chatted with the co-founders on internet forums. Nowadays social media and Customer Care enjoy a similar relationship, sharing bath art tips and listening to requests for new (and old) products.
Lush Connect is a way of bringing that bespoke, personalised service into the digital landscape by allowing customers the chance to interact more personally with the wider Lush community.
Adam explains: “If we are giving really good quality information to staff that’s beneficial to the customer, why not just give it directly to the customer? With Connect everyone gets the same access to the same quality content.”
But is there a danger in a company that’s so focussed on handmade creating a digital app? Adam doesn’t think so: “It shouldn’t feel cold, or digital. It needs to feel human. I think when you are talking to people and interacting with other people, that will create that handmade touch. You could learn by reading the information or you could learn by talking to someone else. If someone has a good way of using henna you can talk to them and ask them.
“You see that a lot in the staff room,” Adam says, referring to a staff Facebook forum with over 4000 active members. “People say ‘I’ve found a really amazing way of doing this,’ and others are like, ‘That’s amazing, I’m going to start doing that in my shop’. So you start to get these natural collisions of information. We want to replicate that and make it even bigger and better for everyone, not just for people in that group, in their languages.”
So what can you expect from Lush Connect in the future? Well that cute badge feature, that’s staying. Expect to see more custom badges dotted around the Lush world ready to be scanned, shared and enjoyed.
Adam adds: “The augmented reality badges were a massive success, and we can now see them rolling out and getting even bigger. We want to have badges for locations, so if you go to Oxford Street you get the Oxford Street badge, staff could have their own badges, and you’d incentivise people to collect them with some kind of reward. The reward could be something whimsical or it could be a really strong bit of learning.”
Badges aside, as a campaigning company the hope is that the app can begin to support global campaigns and events.
Adam explains: “The reason we went for an app is because everyone has got a phone in their pocket, and that's what everyone uses as their primary way of getting content.”
And Adam is right, currently 56.5% of the global population own a mobile phone, a figure that is expected to continue to grow rapidly in the coming years.
“Once we start using Connect as a campaigning tool we can get messages out instantly straight to their pockets. I think the tool just enables quicker and faster reactions.
“For example, there is a badger cull going on in Dorset, and we need to react quickly. Something like Lush Connect will be able to speed that process up, and tell people what’s going on and how to get involved. That’s the dream, getting the information that matters to people’s pockets quicker and more effectively.”
Exciting, right? Well get involved. Download Lush Connect from the App or Android Store and start scanning badges to unlock exclusive content.