Thursday, March 29, 2012

Famous in fabric - the Hayden T-shiirt

Having something named after you typically only happens to famous (or infamous) people, royals and inventors. It is definitely not an occurrence that regularly happens to eCommerce consultants.

However I've been humbled by a product that has recently been launched by one of my clients.

The "Hayden" T-shirt is a new product for the AllSaints Spring/Summer 2012 collection and is available in different colours. As you can see from the screen grab below, it is available to buy online as well as in-store at the modest price of £40!

And you can buy it here (for now):

When I asked Alix the AllSaints eCommerce Manager how this had happened, she explained that as the business gives a name to every product, they are always on the look out for unique ones. It would therefore seem that my name was deemed appropriate and it has been used for this T-shirt.

The only question remaining is not whether I will buy it and then wear it.... But if I have any choice in the matter!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New York Times - what's in a photo?

There is a great review of the new Facebook timeline feature in eConsultancy yesterday, which mentions the New York Times as a good example.

However the one thing that stood out for me in this photo is the red staircase in the centre. Taken from this angle it has the sort of company performance chart that every Chief Exec doesn't want to see. 

Perhaps it is just me, but is the NYT trying to tell us something?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Back to the stone age

Back when the Internet was new and exciting, when Yahoo ruled search
and before Mark Zuckerburg had learnt to build websites..... There was
utter mayhem.
(Note: I'm talking about 12 or more years ago here folks, it's not
like this was last week)

You see back then the amateur ruled web development. Anyone with a bit
of understanding of how to build a site could cobble a few pages
together and charge a few hundred pounds (or much, much more) for the
service. These sites were a mess..... flashing text on multi-coloured
backgrounds and nasty graphics were often seen an innovative and basic
usability, let alone accessibility, wasn't even considered.

This was partly because web standards were still emerging, partly
because the technology was so new (so browsers were so basic and often
flimsy in their rendering of HTML code) and partly because nobody knew
any better; from digital agencies half-putting this stuff together
through to clients who thought they were being clever by trying to
reinvent the wheel (e.g. sticking the main navigation on the right
hand side of the page).

Fortunately, over the years standards evolved and more people actually followed
them. Browser got more complex and in-turn developers learnt they had
be more rigorous in their coding. But more than this.... we learnt
what actually worked.

And now, just a few years into the mass use of Social Media, we have
the same thing all over again:

  • Wacky ideas from agencies who are trying to do anything to differentiate themselves
  • Poorly considered support for social activity in the long term (a lot of people still think it is something they can pick up and drop just as quickly)
  • People with very little experience touting themselves as experts - and charging a fortune

It makes me wonder if we learnt anything first time around.....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Email the key to Multi-channel retail

I've been reading about a new technology that emails your shop receipt to you when you've made a store transaction. This functionality (called Yreceipt) basically automates the process for retailers and takes the customer one step closer to a paperless shopping experience.

But in my opinion it also provides one very important function to the seller.... it helps join up the multi-channel picture for stores, by getting that one piece of data that marries the store purchase with online cuistomer transactions with any digital marketing preferences.... their email address.
This isnt exactly ground-breaking stuff, but getting a customer's usual email address when they are in the store (and yes, I'm well aware that we all have several these days) means you not only know if they've purchased at your online shop, but if they've signed up or opted out of your bulletins. You can then link the in-store purchase to this account or even reactivate them for subsequent email marketing.

Surely by linking till systems with the ecommerce database, any serious retailer can then make the shopping experience more favourable for the customer (by providing loyalty discounts & other incentives, proving an online way for them to see their entire purchasing history and then delivering added value such as emailing receipts to them)?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Multi-Channel competency and innovation

Over the last few months I've been speaking to clients about two different principle facets of Multi-Channel retailing:
  1. Continue to improve what you're doing
  2. Find new ways to do what you're doing
This came to a head a week or so ago when I saw Sir Terry Leahy, the former CEO of Tesco, present on future global trends. As he talked, I was struck by one key phrase he quoted.
"Don't just do things better. Do better things"
And in an instant I had the key way to integrate my two disparate facets (Thanks Sir Terry!)So here's my presentation, which brings together my current thoughts on this subject. It's not complete, in fact it is a long way from it.... but I'm putting it up to collective scrutiny, with the aim of getting your feedback to develop it further.Multi-Channel Innovation & Competence
View more PowerPoint from Hayden Sutherland

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Show me the Social Media money!

My, I must be getting sensitive after all these years in the digital industry. I've just got a bit annoyed after reading a single tweet.
No, it wasn't a rant by one of the angry accounts I follow, nor a bigoted response to a pressing social matter... It was this one:
"The number one objective for social media strategists is to evangelise a new initiative"
(I've withheld the name of the person who tweeted this, but if you have the skills.... You can find out who it is yourself).
In my honest opinion this is NOT the first objective of anyone in social media, let alone someone responsible for the strategy.
Let me explain...
I believe that the most important role of anyone in any company is to support the organisation in its business objectives and responsibilities. These typically are to make money and reduce costs.
Sure, it is also the role of most employees to: take responsibility for their work, think innovatively (although perhaps more those in a more supervisory / management position) and question traditional business practices. But for a social media strategist to consider the evangelising of a new initiative as their principle role..... Is surely missing the point?
Are they not there to: asses, measure, understand and come up with strategic initiatives that make a difference to revenue, operational efficiencies, brand value, etc.?
I would very strongly reconsider the position of someone employed at a senior strategic level who does not understand this economic fundamental.

I'll keep my original posting above, but provide clarification after some subsequent information has come to light (thanks Gabrielle). The Tweet I referenced was not actually the thoughts of the person (Jeremy) who tweeted it:!/jeremywaite/status/179667787705364481
but a quote from someone else at SXSW who made this statement.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Augmented Reality for retail

A couple of weeks back I was told about an innovative 'Virtual fashion mirror' from Cisco. As well as being covered by the BBC, Cisco also blogged about it here:
Although this immediately gained the interest of the techie press and the online fashion community, a little digging found that this technology is still in its infancy and that the actual technology isn't available right away.

Now Microsoft have demonstrated their Holoflector, a large translucent mirror with an LCD panel  behind it, connected to a Kinect camera

Is this the future of retail?