For those who couldn’t make it to today’s Tug Life II session on the future of digital in the retail industry, here’s what you missed: 

The ROI of M&S’s good deeds, the value of Costa’s collaborative innovation and the now-you-mention-it parallels between Nectar promotions and death metal mosh pit best practice – these all shared the agenda as Tug Life II entered its third day with a focus on digital retail.

Setting the scene, OpenMarket’s Oisin Lunny rubbished reports of the death of physical retail, and made a strong case for SMS – with its 98% open rate to email’s 22% – as retail’s communication channel of first resort.

“They talk about the death of the high street – it’s not happening,” he said. “Mobile tech and new tech is reinvigorating the high street. It’s driving people back in stores.”

Dominic Reeves, global director of UX described how Nectar operator Aimia’s sophisticated process for matching brands match promotions to customer profiles by way of a charming death metal mosh pit survival guide.

Camelot’s Victoria Darbyshire explained how to use digital to enhance the experience of a staunchly retail-based National Lottery. Costa Express’s Nicola Hayden, meanwhile, urged brands to cast their net wider in collaboration, having drawn consumers and young people into Costa’s own workshops.

“Yes, you can run a workshop with just your innovation team, but you’ve got the same people every time, but if you collaborate and get new ideas from different people, you can really enrich it,” said Darbyshire.

But M&S and its community projects partner Neighbourly arguably stole the morning with a portfolio of community action, including Spark Something Good, which is enlisting customers to power volunteer projects in 24 UK cities in 24 months.

Nick Davies from community social platform Neighbourly said community engagement can present a ROI to more than rival advertising.

“When you see an organisation complete an act of kindness it resonates massively with people in terms of how they feel about you as an organisation.”

More updates coming soon – stay tuned!