Get Ready For More Of This

DAR_5632

It was not that long ago that, when it came to technology, Korea was viewed as a slow follower and not an innovator.  This has changed and Samsung has been leading the charge. Today Samsung is on the cutting edge in many aspects of technological innovation, style and consumer electronics “fashion”. Giving others a run for their money, including Apple. It is also helping Brand Korea to change its image from slow follower to an innovation engine.

China at the moment is very much seen as the manufacturing engine of the world. Taking others innovations and mass-producing them at scale to make them affordable, and they are good at it, indeed they are world class.

But we are going to see changes here that will follow the Korean example.

Enter Haier, one of China’s leading domestic appliance (and a lot more) manufacturers. Chinese Haier became the first appliance company to be accepted into Apple’s MFi licencing program. The Apple MFi program grants certification to create AirPlay products that connect to iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

With Haier it’s not just acceptance it is product as well. At the massive Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier in the month the Haier’s Tianzun air conditioning units were launched and on display. They are the first appliances to be accredited and they carry the MFi branding and functionality built in.

MFi makes things simple, easy and efficient to connect and control.- bringing the connected home and the Internet Of Things to reality.

There will be more Haier home appliances that will follow. Expect to see it MFi in Haier’s water heaters, ovens and a lot more.

It’s one small step, Chinese companies being the first to implement new technologies and not lagging behind. As China rebalances prepare to see more…

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – Balance Scales

Scales

 

It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is The Balance Scale

Balance scales were in use in Mesopotamia as early as around the year 4000 BC . They were probably derived from the principles of a yoke, whereby two equal weights would balance if suspended either side of a central beam. Early balance scales measure relative weight (as opposed to actual weight). Measures were calculated by putting the object measured on one plate, and stones (the counterweight) on the other, until equilibrium was reached. In the late 18th century, a way to measure absolute weight was developed by Richard Salter when he invented the spring scale. This calculated the weight of an item by measuring the pressure it registered when hung by a hook attached to the spring. Around the same period (in 1897), one of the first commercial price-indicating scales was being developed in America. A weighed cursor, graduated vertically into prices per pound, was slid along a steelyard, which is a device with a short arm taking the item to be weighed, and a long graduated arm along which a weight is moved until it balances. The price of the goods could be read off the chart at the point where balance was achieved. Slow to actually provide a reading, it failed to catch on. From the 1940s, scales were incorporating electronic devices to make them more accurate. Today, the traditional balance scales so associated with grocers, butchers, confectioners and a myriad of other retailers, have been replaced almost entirely by digital scales. These scales not only weigh to a tenth of a gram, but by communicating with the retailer’s pricing system also print labels, instantly giving the weight and associated price of each weighed purchase. Scales are also integrated into supermarket checkouts, greatly streamlining the process.

Contribution to Retail History

Scales are one of civilisations most important developments. For centuries, traders have bought and sold goods according to weight and today all trade depends on having a fair system of weights and measures controlled by law. The food we eat and many of the products we use will have been weighed and measured – probably many times – in their journey through the supply chain. Without the ability to measure weight and ascribe a value to it, commerce would not have progressed beyond the basic bartering system. Thus, the scales became the principle way of determining the cost of an item, and a cornerstone of retailing as we know it.

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

History of Retail

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – The Cuneiform Tablet

Cunieform

It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post –  This weeks objects is- The Cuneiform Tablet.

Civilisation ’s need to write things down , make a list, keep a record, categorise data and thereby pay taxes, goes back to the earliest times. The first system of writing used to record this information (that is known to us) is called ‘Cuneiform script ’. Cuneiform used pictorial symbols set out in columns on clay tablets, using a blunt reed for a stylus. The blunt reeds left a ‘wedge shaped’ impression , and this is where the name cuneiform comes from, the Latin for ‘wedge’. This writing system began in Sumer, in Mesopotamia, as long ago as 8000 BC. The early tablets were in their simplest form principally used for record keeping – agrarian inventories for grain, animals and equipment. But as the ancient world increasingly urbanised, these writings took on a more commercial form and were employed to record bargains sealed, ships’ cargoes, and lists of manufactured goods. Early Sumerians used cuneiform to list the clay tokens they used to exchange and store their agricultural and manufactured goods. The clay tokens were put in clay containers and they impressed onto the sealed containers, one picture for each token inside the container. As time passed, it became a standard practice for the major cities to date documents by year, names, and their respective kings. It also became a way of calculating how much people should pay in taxes. These early writings in turn led to their use for everyday purposes, not least in shopping. Dr Irvine Finkel, of the British Museum and noted Cuneiform scholar, has established that some of the earliest tablets he has examined are shopping lists!

 Contribution to Retail History

Cuneiform tablets highlight our shopping journey from the ancient world to modern times. The shopping bag and the shopping list have survived the journey of time and civilisations. Both have been in use for millennia and whilst we have little evidence of an ancient bag, it is interesting to see from the many clay tablets that have survived, that the ancients wrote out their lists just as we do today.

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

History of Retail

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

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