General

A pot purl of things that just don’t fit any where else. Enjoy…

China As Clear As Smog

Fast development has its down sides. Pollution is an unintended consequence. The smog levels in Shanghai reached disturbing levels in December. Take a look here at  the recent smog in Shanghai and the issues that it makes you think about.

 

The History of Retail in 100 Objects – The Abacus

Abacus

Today is the start of the Tuesday, History Of Retail In 100 Objects, series

This weeks object is… The Abacus.

Traders have always needed counting boards of some kind. The earliest versions, which predated the abacus, would have been used by traders at markets. Traders drew lines in the sand with their fingers or a stylus of some kind. They would then place pebbles between those lines to represent numbers.  The Abacus – or counting frame  – evolved from ancient times, through to the Middle Ages and Modern Times. In 500 BC the early counting boards included The Salamis Tablet, the Ro man Calculi and the hand-abacus. The Roman hand abacus was often made from stone and metal.  In the Middle Ages came the Apices, the coin-board, and the Line-board, which date from 5 AD to around 1400 AD.  Most were made from wood, and originally the beads on which you counted ran vertically. By the time the system had evolved to Line-boards, the columns ran horizontally.  From 1200 AD the abacus evolved into the Chinese suan-pan, the Japanese soroban, and the Russian schoty.

The classic Chinese abacus is the one we are most familiar with. It has two beads on the upper deck and 5 on the lower deck, and is often called the  ‘2/5’ abacus. From about 1850 this was replaced with the ‘1/5’ abacus, with one bead on the top deck and five beads on the bottom deck.  The Chinese abacus was further adapted by Lee Kai-Chen, and by 1958  the ‘new’ abacus could be found in use,  complete with an instruction book. It has more decks top and bottom combining the 1/4 soroban model and the 2/5  suan-pan style. Kai-Chen said it was a  “Revolution of Chinese Calculators”. Traders have always needed counting boards of some kind. The earliest version s, which predated the abacus, would have been used by traders at markets. Traders drew lines in the sand with their fingers or a stylus of some kind. They would then place pebbles between those lines to represent numbers.  The Abacus – or counting frame  – evolved from ancient times, through to the Middle Ages and Modern Times. In 500 BC the early counting boards included The Salamis Tablet, the Roman Calculi and the hand-abacus.

The Roman hand abacus was often made from stone and metal.  In the Middle Ages came the Apices, the coin-board, and the Line-board, which date from 5 AD to around 1400 AD. Most were made from wood, and originally the beads on which you counted ran vertically. By the time the system had evolved to Line-boards, the columns ran horizontally. From 1200 AD the abacus evolved into the Chinese suan-pan, the Japanese soroban, and the Russian schoty. The classic Chinese abacus is the one we are most familiar with. It has two beads on the upper deck and 5 on the lower deck, and is often called the  ‘2/5’ abacus. From about 1850 this was replaced with the ‘1/5’ abacus, with one bead on the top deck and five beads on the bottom deck.  The Chinese abacus was further adapted by Lee Kai-Chen, and by 1958 the ‘new’ abacus could be found in use, complete with an instruction book. It has more decks top and bottom combining the 1/4 soroban model and the 2/5 suan-pan style. Kai-Chen said it was a  “Revolution of Chinese Calculators”.

Contribution To Retail History

As the first known calculating mechanism, the abacus enabled merchants and traders to add, subtract,  multiply and divide without the use of pebbles, twigs or other ‘representations’.  Being liberated to work on larger, more complex calculations was a significant advancement in the earliest days of retail management.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail

 

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects

HoR_100 Objects Cover

I recently edited a book and narrated podcast series called The History of Retail In 100 Objects. It was a partnership with The Store WPP and Intel. It has always concerned me that from the very first transaction, retail has always played a vital part in the fabric of life yet never really been recognised as a major driver of society. In fact the history of retail and social developments are inextricably linked. So… inspired by The British Museum’s, History of the World in 100 Objects, I set out to define the key objects, which over time have had a profound impact on the development of retail.

Arriving at the list of 100 objects has been an enriching experience. It has generated much heated debate with many different perspectives and opinions for the inclusion or exclusion of objects. Our list of 100 objects has been arrived at through collaboration and combining wisdoms – the wisdom of crowds and the wisdom of experts. Using social networks around the globe we first asked for objects to be nominated. We received thousands. An advisory board of experts from different disciplines were invited to help shortlist the most defining objects. I believe that that there will be more change in retail in the next 10 years than there has been in the past 50. So, in conjunction with our partners on this project, Intel and the Intel ‘Futures’ team, we have looked into the future to try to define what objects, not invented yet or commercialised, will have a considerable impact in the years to come. We included seven objects that shed light on where the future is going.

This is the first of many collaborations with Intel to better define the retail future. While the future of retail is uncertain, the one certainty is that the combination of retail, technology, creativity and understanding the changing consumer has never been so intertwined and vital for success.

So starting tomorrow and on every Tuesday  I am going to feature on this blog one object that earned its place in The History Of Retail in 100 Objects.

And if you cant wait for each Tuesday you can download the entire podcast series featuring the story of every 100 Object and the future objects from the link at the bottom of this post.

I am indebted to our Intel partnership team led by Joe Jenson, Jose Avalos, Maroun Ishac, Adrian Whelan, Steve Power Brown, Megan Bednarz and to Brian David Johnson, Director, Future Casting, Interactions and Experience Research Intel.

I hope that you find The History of Retail in 100 Objects and the future objects  interesting and thought provoking.

The future is not what it used to be.

History of Retail

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year –   Shanghai China

Wishing you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

David

ClickBoxMas

Sale

It’s started but not as we know it.

Boxing Day. England.

The day after Christmas is generally know as Boxing Day in the UK and the Commonwealth. It’s been a public holiday in the UK since 1871.

The origins of Boxing Day are not clear.

It could have been as a day after Christmas when the landed gentry and aristocracy distributed gifts to their servants – in boxes. Or it could have come from Anglican parishes whose faithful put money into boxes during the year and on the day after Christmas the contents were emptied and given to the poor.

Whatever its origins, it has developed a lot since then. Today it’s a massive sports day (all premier league football clubs are in action). And…the kick off to the sales. Where a newer tradition of queuing outside the store all night in order to make certain of snagging that must have and long saved up for bargain.

Mind you, it has been a good few years since Boxing Day was the real start of the sales. Increasingly as trading and retail conditions become tougher, more and more retailers have started their sales earlier even before Christmas something that was once a retail taboo.

This year has seen another development of the Boxing Day activity. Not an evolution of box giving and not on Boxing Day either… Christmas afternoon is turning into ClickBoxMas. Where bargain savvy consumers (and who isn’t these days) visit the stores sales web sites whose Boxing Day sales pre launch for click and reserve.

Just one additional impact digital retail is having.

Nothing is sacred.

Going Nowhere Fast

IMG_5060

Spare a thought and commiserations to all those thousands of Londoners who were planning travelling by train to see their family and friends today for the holidays. The storms last night, that literally swept many parts of the country, put a full stop to many of their plans. With intercity stations closed, rather than the season of joy, today was the travel of misery. I hope you all manage to get home for the holidays.

The Biggest Supermarket Day Of The Year

Supermarket

Today will be the biggest sales day of the year for supermarkets here in England. With sales starting early and finishing late. As an example ASDA (part of WalMart) will process some 12 million transactions an hour as Christmas food shoppers stock up to make sure that they don’t run out of anything on Christmas day. With supermarket logistics stretched to the limit, today is the test for all that infrastructure investment and logistics planning

Where Have All The People Gone?

IMG_5009-Edit-2

The office is a stones throw from Oxford Street. On my way back home over the past week I have been going the long way and doing a non-scientific retail audit. Taking a sector each day and looking at what is going on along the street. After all, this should be the biggest week of the year for most. On Monday my chosen sector was apparel. What struck me was how relatively empty of shoppers most of the apparel stores were. Which made me think where have all the shoppers gone? With the growth of on-line apparel and pure plays like Asos more and more are clicking.

But it was my last stop of the evening at the end of Oxford Street where the answer came.  The one store that was literally heaving with hustling and bustling shoppers and long queues at the check out was  – Primark the value retailer or as they would like to define themselves  – keeping up with the latest looks without breaking the bank.

So that’s were they all were.

Indicative of the winners this holiday season? It’s a bit too early to tell but that’s where I would put my money in the apparel sector.

 

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