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On Oxford Street, the Capital's shopping avenue, a corner shop like no other made its temporary appearance. LTK celebrated its relaunch and makeover with this peculiar pop-up space and a panel to discuss the future of retail and the role of content creators.
Image courtesy of LTK
Fashions Finest team stepped into LTK abstract store for an exclusive panel discussion with LTK co-founder, Amber Venz Box, Vicky James, head of brand marketing at Missguided, and LTK creators Mollie Campsie, Louisa Hatt, and Josie LDN.
The world is literally in the palm of our hands as many actions can be taken with a simple tap, including shopping. The pop-up space in Oxford Street had a door like many other stores but the QR codes stuck on the window opened the real shop for us. This is a very peculiar 'store': LTK.
LTK Creator Shops in Oxford Street. Ph. V. Chirico
A popular name among the youngest and social addicted, LTK - formerly known as LikeToKnowIt - was founded in 2010 by Amber Venz Box and her then-boyfriend, now husband, engineer Baxter Box. Back at that time, blogging was an enjoyable hobby but the couple managed to turn Amber's passion for blogging and fashion into a means of living. With the monetisation platform rewardStyle first and the app LikeToKnowIt soon after, the Boxs changed the way people shop online forever but also, and especially, the way people source for inspiration.
At the LTK exclusive panel discussion with Missguided: 'The Role of Creator Commerce in Retail'
The panel discussion hosted by Robin Ward, head of sales at LTK, delved into this topic and explored today's shopping landscape brought by LTK with the four panellists.
What Is LTK And How It Works
LTK is an app and platform where content creators - bloggers or influencers - brands and the audience meet, creating a virtual space beneficial for the creators and helpful for the shoppers.
LTK inglobes Amber Venz Box and Baxter Box's brainchildren: rewardStyle and LikeToKnowIt. Ever wondered what the person next door, more realistically an influencer or a celeb, is wearing? LTK answers that question for you. You can tell this is a winning idea by its long 'shelf life'. Ten years of LKT suggests it is a brilliant concept with a real purpose. It could not be otherwise. Amber, a former personal shopper and fashion-obsessed from Dallas, knows the market as she turned her free shopping services as a blogger into an empire with 350 people working with her all over the globe.
CEO and Co-founder of LTK, Amber Venz Box
What Amber knows is that people do find shopping-related content entertaining and they actually spend on goods worth 10$ billion dollars after social recommendations by LTK creators. However, she is also well aware of the short lifespan of online content and the many new platforms launched every single year. Not so many 'spaghetti stick on the walls' and content is easily forgotten, lost under a shower of freshly made posts. The new updates implemented the LTK platform with helpful features for both the influencers and users. LTK creators will have a creator shop, a technology with marketing built-in, and access to analytics. Analytics are not just addicting and fun to explore, as noted by Molly, but also 'keep you in touch with your audience' - added Josie
LTK Makeover: New Functions For Your Experience
The LTK updates were made to create an 'elegant shopping experience' (Amber). Old and new uses can find now a richer tool to fish for inspiration and then shop online. The new LTK app features:
- Price drop alerts - Real-time notifications telling shoppers when one of their saved items or something in their wish list goes on sale.
- Automatic follows - A new function allowing users to follow a creator's LTK Shop automatically when they click through to any creator LTK post from Instagram or any other social media.
- Home screen badges - A little badge appearing on a creator’s avatar, showing how many new posts are waiting to be seen
- Gift Guides - A separate section for festive shopping (i.e. Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Week) with gift guides within creator LTK profiles.
- Search filters - A much-awaited function to filter by brand name and media type on a creator’s LTK Shop.
- Localisation - Shoppers in the UK are now immediately recommended UK-creator content first in product search.
Asked by Robin on the meaning of influencer marketing, the panellists explored the role of influencers in today's virtual landscape by recalling their personal paths (Mollie, Louisa and Josie) and what is the relationship between brands and creators (Vicky).
LTK creator Mollie Campsie, Vicky James next to her
Coming from different backgrounds and representing different niches, the panellists offered a larger spectrum of opinions on the matter. For Mollie, a former plus-size model who joined LTK 18 months ago, 'an influencer is somebody in a given space - which for me was cut due to my size - (someone) who has authority in that space and who is able to influence purchasing decisions and add value to their audience.'
LTK creator Louisa Hatt shares her view and experience
Louisa, from Edinburgh and in LTK for 18 months, shared the same vision and deepened the view by pointing at 'trust and credibility', two strengths and essential components in the emerging role of influencers. Trust, authority, credibility, engagement, and humanity have been highlighted throughout the discussion.
LTK creator Josie LDN
Josie, who has a background in marketing, knows that marketers have to count every pound spent in their campaigns and found the positive side of being a creator as 'she can truck what she invests in because it is all digital.' She has been with LTK for seven years when the platform for influencers was called rewardStyle.
'Every penny has to make worth a pound', Vicky agreed with her and moved on by offering her experience as the voice of a brand dealing with the 'new brands', the creators. A brand like Missguided seized this new opportunity. Influencers' creative works can actually benefit different areas of marketing. In fact, the brand has been engaging with creators as a catalyst during that time when working from home made shooting particularly difficult to organise. Creators provided new content from different points of view as well as a source of inspiration for styling.
Robin Ward, head of Sales at LTK, hosts the panel
What emerged during the panel - probably the most relevant conversation topic for us at Fashions Finest - is inclusivity. Influencers and content creators are people like us and represent the variety of today's society with its different social, aesthetic and ethnic backgrounds. Mollie is sorting problems for many women who do not feel represented by models at all. Her activity has something emotional for her, 'it humanises everything which is the core of what influencer marketing is'. Louisa has never seen herself as a brand until other fellow creators suggested to her some products which might have been suitable for her personal style. That ordinary experience opened her eyes but it was the collaboration request from a British traditional heritage fashion label that brought her to a new realisation. People got back in touch to tell her they finally saw themselves in the brand's wealthy style code.
Content creators may have a privileged relationship with brands and enjoy enviable attention but what they really do is give voice and space to the real people. Creators are not models, they stand for those who were invisible in the media and marketing products ten years ago.
After London, LTK is planning to open more pop-up spaces around the globe (image courtesy of LTK)
When questioned by Robin, Vicky sounded quite comfortable with the statement 'creators are the new brands': 'as a brand, collaborating with creators strengthens your own brand. They are that authentic voice that people are looking for'.
'Creators are filling that gap between consumers and commas', added Josie. Creators like Josie, Mollie, and Louisa do something they love and, Josie continued 'while doing something you love, you do not realise but you are building this incredible relatable organic brand'.
Josie is not wrong at all. The equation is real and actual: 'creators are the new retailers; they are the ones curating new products for their followers', stated Amber while introducing us to LTK new makeover. Content creators are not competing with brands but they are now recognised as perfect partners and an endless source of inspiration for shoppers who finally find shapes and personalities closer to them.
LTK proved to foresee the change and shape the industry, surviving the coming-and-going destiny of all digital products. What we can wish for in the future is a democratic market, a fashion reality open to everyone and we can feel it is already happening.