The Drum Awards for Design 2022

Live in - hours - minutes steps offline to prove it’s ‘much more than a gifting business'

Online marketplace aimed to hit the sweet spot of 'customer experience' - a phrase that pops up multiple times in conversation with its chief executive Simon Belsham - with a new approach in London last weekend (6-8 May).

Dubbed Open Door, its first physical retail experience was a huge installation showcasing the work of its partners and comprising several experiential zones, including eight interactive 'doorways' designed to surprise and delight consumers, live workshops and live demonstrations.

For Belsham, any commercial success derived from the activation is, apparently, qualitative. "My belief is this isn’t just about sales," he said – rather: "The success of today is going to be about the smiles of people on their faces when they come and take part in the workshops, or take part in the demonstrations and leave with a sense of what they hadn’t realised we did before."

While Open Door in Old Spitalfields Market was designed primarily to celebrate's tenth year in business, the event notably fell outside any busy gifting seasons – when the company website receives the most traffic from shoppers looking for unique gifts that are, as the name would suggest, not available on the high street.

Belsham noted: "This is one of those events that we know will help people reappraise what we do - we’re predominantly a gifting business, we’re well known for gifting occasions - but we’re so much more than that and for the first time ever we're able to showcase all of the categories that we’re able to sell." further proved its customer experience focus earlier this year by swapping its marketing director role out from a customer director."You’ve got to put customers at the heart of your business and you’ve got to create experiences for them at all stand points," Belsham explained. "Marketing is not just a transactional channel anymore."

Meanwhile a continuing tie-up with Transport for London (TfL) sees the brand engage with new and expectant mums on the London transport network.

Belsham would not give any more details on the series of train station-based pop-up shops originally announced when the TfL deal was revealed, however did add that live is going to be a "really important part of our marketing mix looking forward to the future. "

He also hinted that more joint ventures are on the way, stating: "Partnerships are an important part of any business’ future. It's one part of the marketing mix that we're absolutely going to be taking forward."