Social media-informed digital clothing rail launches as part of campaign to boost towns fortunes through digital

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What’s being termed the first ‘live feed’ digital clothing rail is now up and running in a St Helen’s department store.

The clothing rail features lights that become more or less blue when an item on the rail is trending – or not – on social media.

The rail was created for O2 Business, which has given family-owned Tyrers Department store, dating back to 1888, a digital makeover in order to demonstrate the importance of technology to businesses of all sizes. Powered by a 4G internet connection, the lights on the rail reflect the likes, comments and shares of a particular outfit on Facebook or Instagram. On Twitter comments are running under #hellosthelens.

It was designed in response to O2 research that questioned 2,000 UK adults and found that social media was becoming the main influence on how shoppers buy. More than three-quarters (76%) said they bought products recommended by people that they follow, while 36% say being on trend is an important factor in buying clothes.

It’s also part of a larger campaign to bring technology to the Lancashire town in the hope that its fortunes will improve as a result.

Ben Dowd, O2 business director, said: “What we’ve found is towns and cities in Britain that are more digital tend to be more prosperous. So what we’re trying to do with St Helen’s is we’re trying to inspire a community and enable them to go digital.”

Staff have also been equipped with tablet computers, cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 software 4G ‘pop up’ offices that enable employees to check stock levels, reply to customer queries and communicate with suppliers no matter where they are.

Ali Tyrer, of Tyrers, said: “It’s made our work much more flexible and more productive,” adding: “We’re always looking at how technology can help our bottom line and being an independent business means we are able to try new things.

“O2 Business has really given us the confidence to think about using technology even further, providing hardware and software to make things happen and push the boundaries to become a digitally-leading retailer.”

Main image: Ali Tyrer of Tyrers Department Store with social media-driven clothes rail developed for O2.

Second image: Clothes rail in action

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