Friday, February 05, 2016

Whoosh Fitting Rooms (or How not to save the High Street)

Eva Pascoe's weekly Retail Bytes dropped into my inbox earlier this week. It's always a really interesting read about the intersection of retail and technology. This week, one of the things she wrote about and particularly caught my interest was Hointer's latest wheeze, The Whoosh Fitting Rooms. You can watch the video below of how it works. I'd love to know what you think.

I'm horrified that the team at Hointer think it's ok to have clothes shoved to the customer down a chute - not unlike a rubbish chute, in fact. That may be ok for a pair of men's jeans but it most certainly is not ok for a cosy merino wool sweater or a glamorous silk top. And just as bad, if you don't want to buy the item, you throw it back down the chute as if you're throwing it away. Aaaarrrgggghhh. As a former fashion retailer, this is an abomination! As a customer, this is not a way I want to deal with clothes in store.

I know we're in an era of fast fashion, but there is, thankfully, a move towards slower fashion and a move towards buying less and to enjoy what you have much more thanks to the likes of Marie Kondo.

Also, as one friend pointed out on the discussion about this on my Facebook page, never mind that you would need to invest heavily in new fittings and fixtures in store, have the customer download the right app and deal with their mobile screen and the screen in the fitting room, which also means having great connectivity, as well as retrain your store staff in the new system (after all, they would be the ones in the back setting it all up and ensuring stock was in the right place at the right time) and install new point of sale software and checkouts.

In the same thread on Facebook, I lamented that retail staff no longer know how to fold clothes at the cash desk. I find myself refolding clothes at point of sale more times than I care to mention so that they don't get damaged before I've even had chance to wear them. I don't care what price you pay for an item in store or whether that store is a charity shop, Primark, Marks & Spencers or Harrods, I expect my belongings to be handled with care. At the point I pay, those items belong to me, not to the store and as such, they need to be handled accordingly. It doesn't take long to teach someone how to fold garments properly. And once you know, you know for life. It also speeds up the checkout procedure.

So, dear retailers, please ramp up your staff training so that bagging up goods ends up being joyful for both employee and purchaser. And Hointer, please put your collective big brains towards a problem that is actually worth solving.

M-Payments are Dead

This week's Telemedia newsletter popped into my inbox this morning and the headline article about m-payments really struck a chord with me. Much as I've been a fan of mobile technology for the last 16 years, I have rarely used mobile payments - as in charging something to my network operator. I use PayPal on my mobile, I've paid using credit cards and I've charged things to my Amazon and my Google Play accounts. Aside from very rare instances of premium SMS (for voting or a charity donation), I can't think of an instance where I've ever thought 'oh it would be so much easier to pay via my network operator'.

Paul Skeldon goes into it in more depth here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

And the winners are....

The magazine supplement for this year's #emmas (Effective Mobile Marketing Awards) award winners dropped into my inbox today from David Murphy at Mobile Marketing Magazine. The awards were last month so some of you will already be familiar with the winners but in case you missed it, it's worth a look.

What struck me most about the range of winners and campaigns is that mobile marketing has grown up - mainstream brands doing large-scale, innovative campaigns. I guess it's about time, 15 years on, that this is happening.

So if you're after some inspiration about what's possible with mobile marketing, then take a look at this year's winners and check out their work.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Spy Who Scored Me - social media, gamification, data mining & Big Brother

A friend shared this video on Facebook earlier today and it raises (again) many concerns that I've had over the last year or two regarding social media scoring, gamification and how our data is used.

Games, gamification and addiction

I've thought for some time that the flashing lights on our mobile screens are as addictive as slot machines. There are many games that require little or no skill whatsoever but just requires you to push your finger around a screen and in return you get the dopamine rush of a virtual reward. Whether that's a reward in game points, being told you're a winner, it amounts to the same thing - a bit of your screen lit up, and in turn, parts of your brain lit up. A cursory search on Google brings up many articles and research studies about this addiction.

And this addiction is starting at a very young age - children are playing digital games from being toddlers and the addictive nature of these games is apparent when you see how a child behaves when they're told to stop playing or their device is taken away.

At the same time, games can be great fun and are a way for many people to relax. So it's not all bad, as long as we're aware of when it may be getting out of hand.

Social scoring

And then we come on to social scoring. There are several companies like Klout, PeerIndex and their ilk who score people base on their activities on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I've never been much bothered about my score but these are the social media equivalent of our credit ratings which brands and agencies can use to target for 'blogger outreach' or product promotions. Indeed, I'm sure these scores now feed into our credit rating as well and also feed into job applications and more. I guess that's a feature of living in the modern world and I can't say it's something I'm particularly happy about, nor do I feel I can do much about it either.

Sesame Credit

China takes these two concepts to the next level. Sesame Credit, the brainchild of Alibaba and Tencent, is a combination of social scoring, credit scoring, gamification (or the addictive nature of gaming) to promote and encourage 'good citizenship'. In China, that means compliance, falling in line and not criticising the government or those in power. The video above explains it very well and the BBC covered it a couple of months ago. The Chinese seem to have taken to the system like a duck to water and freely share their current score. Although it's not currently compulsory to participate, according to the video and the BBC, it will be compulsory by 2020.

What about the UK?

Well, I don't foresee that there will be a compulsory system imposed here, but the UK government has been spying on us via our telephone and internet activity for the last 15 years and keeping records on millions of British citizens according to El Reg. I'm sure every government is doing something similar.

Oh, and don't forget that the advertising industry is busy watching us too. Check out The Secret Life of Your Mobile Phone video below and catch the stage show if you can. It's brilliant. There's an audio available of their show at The Hay Festival (£1 to download).

See also You are Your Phone on how the pattern of smartphone use is the pattern of the self.

Big Brother Is Watching You? You betcha. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Are the Androids Dreaming Yet? Free on Amazon 16 & 17 December 2015!

If you took part in one of mine and Lloyd's Future of Work events recently, you'll have heard James Tagg mention his book: Are The Androids Dreaming Yet? On Free Will, Creativity and Artificial Intelligence. The book has been listed as one of Kirkus Reviews Indie Books of 2015, which is lovely. And to celebrate, James has made the Kindle version free for download today and tomorrow (16th & 17th Dec). So don't delay, get your copy now and have yourself some brain food for Christmas.

Recent event round-ups from my collaboration with Lloyd Davis/Tuttle Club & Truphone.

I recently held a series of five events with my friend and collaborator, Lloyd Davis, at Truphone's rather splendid offices in Canary Wharf. I did a round-up of all the events over on my Heroes of Mobile website so please follow the links below to see the videos of the talks and to find out more about what we covered and links to further coverage and reading.

Future of Mobile:Artificial Intelligence with James Tagg

Future of Work: Artificial Intelligence with Benjamin Ellis

Future of Work: Blockchain with Imogen Heap (yes, that Imogen Heap)

Future of Work: Drones, Robots and Internet of Things with Priya Prakash

Future of Work: Augmented and Virtual Reality with Eva Pascoe

Lloyd and I are working up some new event themes for the New Year. If you're interested in hosting and sponsoring the next series in the UK in the Spring (it doesn't have to be London), please get in touch.