All posts by silviaecoffee

Invisible Mirrorcube eco-hotel room available for purchase

Situated in the forest area around Harads, Sweden, Treehotel has now implemented five of the 24 rooms it has planned for the area. Among those are “The Blue Cone,” “The UFO” and “The Bird’s Nest,” all suspended four to six meters above the ground and designed in eco-minded fashion by some of Scandinavia’s leading architects.

Designed to blend into its surroundings so as not to ruin the view, the Mirrorcube is an addition to this collection, featuring mirrored walls that reflect their surroundings and yet are safe for passing birds thanks to a layer of infrared film. Featuring six windows and a panoramic view, the Mirrorcube accommodates two people with a double bed, bathroom, lounge, and rooftop terrace.

Perhaps most interestingly of all, the Mirrorcube is now for sale, with a delivery time of roughly four months. Retail pricing is reportedly about EUR 275,000 excluding transportation costs.

Because of the cube’s ability to blend into its surroundings so well, it may be a perfect choice for those looking to create accommodation in areas of natural beauty. Treehotel is currently looking for suitable resellers for its Mirrorcube.

via Swedish hotel’s nearly invisible glass ‘tree rooms’ | Springwise.

Korean 3D QR codes deliver promotional discount during quiet hours

Periodic lulls in business are a fact of life for most retailers, and we’ve already seen solutions including daily deals that are valid only during those quiet times.

Recently, however, we came across a concept that takes such efforts even further. Specifically, Korean Emart recently placed 3D QR code sculptures throughout the city of Seoul that could only be scanned between noon and 1 pm each day — consumers who succeeded were rewarded with discounts at the store during those quiet shopping hours.

Dubbed “Sunny Sale,” Emart’s effort involved setting up a series of what it calls “shadow” QR codes that depend on peak sunlight for proper viewing and were scannable only between 12 and 1 pm each day. Successfully scanning a code took consumers to a dedicated home page with special offers including a coupon worth USD 12. Purchases could then be made via smartphone for delivery direct to the consumer’s door. The video below explains the campaign in more detail:

As a result of its creative promotion, Emart reportedly saw membership increase by 58 percent in February over the previous month, they also observed a 25 percent increase in sales during lunch hours. Retailers around the globe: One for inspiration?

via In Seoul, retailer uses 3D QR codes and the sun to deliver discounts only during its quiet times | Springwise.

Say it with an espresso!

We’ve seen numerous ways to add personalized messages to products ranging from chocolate bars to cookies to cans of soup, but recently we came across one that has an interesting new twist.

Created by Seattle cloud texting company Zipwhip, Textspresso is an espresso machine that can not only send and receive text messages, but can also print those messages on coffee foam using edible ink.

To create the Textspresso device, Zipwhip installed a Jura Impressa Xs90 espresso machine with SMS and printing capabilities using an Android app, servo motors, an Arduino microcontroller and a retrofitted Canon printer. Users can text their order to the device, which will then brew their coffee and keep it hot on a warming plate until they pick it up. Perhaps most interesting of all, though, is that the machine can use edible ink to print text on the coffee’s foam, opening the door to a world of personalization possibilities. For example, the machine can be used to text the last digits of a customer’s phone number, enabling them to easily identify their coffee when they go to pick it up. The video below explains the premise in more detail:

Zipwhip actually created its Textspresso machine as a way to showcase its cloud texting service, and it has no plans to produce more of them, it says. The code and plans for making the device are open source, however, and available to anyone seeking to make their own. Tech-minded entrepreneurs and coffee shop owners worldwide: time to build one for yourself?

via Espresso machine can print text messages on coffee foam with edible ink | Springwise.

Pimkie’s site documents changing color trends on city streets | VIDEO

Just as sites such as Brayola have used the crowds to help women find recommendations for bras, now a new site is providing hints at the most popular color choices in three European cities. The Pimkie Color Forecast analyzes webcam footage to provide infographics detailing current trends in Paris, Milan and Antwerp.

With the help of interactive artist and software developer Pedro Miguel Cruz, France-based fashion retailer Pimkie has set up webcams in the “most fashionable” areas of the three cities, the images from which are then put through a computer program. The program isolates the pixels that represent people by monitoring their motion over time – the environment stays still but people move across the image space. The color of these pixels is then logged and the data is organized and presented in an easy-to-understand way to visitors of the Color Forecast.

Users can watch the live feed, see the most popular shades at different times of the day, week or month (in bar chart or pie chart form), or check Pimkie’s clothes recommendations for each city based on its most popular color.

These recommendations can then be purchased through the Pimkie store. The video below explains more about the process behind the site:

The fashion industry is full of opinions on the latest trends, but the Color Forecast provides digestable information based on actual data from the street, as well as providing a unique way to engage customers for the brand. Retailers, could you take inspiration from Pimkie’s lead?

via Fashion site documents changing color trends on city streets | Springwise.

China’s youth high demands for low carbon goods

Businesses have been urged to accelerate their environmental footprinting strategies to include emerging economies, after new research by the Carbon Trust revealed young people in China could hold the key to unlocking mass demand for greener products.


The survey of 2,800 young people across six countries carried out by TNS found 83 per cent of 18-25 year-olds in China would be more loyal to a brand if they could see it was reducing its carbon footprint. In contrast, just 57 per cent of US respondents and 55 per cent of young people in the UK made the same claim.

Globally, 78 per cent of young people said they want their favourite brands to reduce their carbon footprint, but again those in Chinese showed the highest demand for emission reductions with 88 per cent calling on firms to cut their footprint.

South Africa came in second place with 86 per cent of respondents calling on blue chips to reduce their impact, followed by Brazi at 84 per cent. Again the US and UK lagged far behind with only two thirds of respondents demanding more action from big brands.

The analysis was launched just days before the Carbon Trust unveils the first four Asian companies to receive the Carbon Trust Standard, its independent label awarded to companies that reduce their organisational carbon footprints year-on-year.

Tom Delay, Chief Executive of the Carbon Trust, said the survey results were “startling”, in that they revealed how Chinese consumers could lead the global demand for greener goods.

“Sixty per cent of young adults questioned in China would stop buying a product if its manufacturer refused to commit to measuring and reducing its carbon footprint, compared to just 35 per cent of those in the US,” he said.

“Perhaps it is the Chinese, and not the US. consumer, that really holds the key to unlocking the mass demand for new low carbon products necessary to deliver an environmentally sustainable economy.

“If global brands don’t build international carbon reduction strategies even faster, they risk missing out on the spending power of emerging economies.”

The research also revealed that Brazilian young people showed the greatest demand for companies to be transparent about their action on carbon, with 81 per cent demanding that brands to provide proof they are reducing their carbon footprint.

British young people showed a high awareness of the term “carbon footprint”, but only half claimed to be concerned about climate change.

via China’s youth reveal ‘startling’ demand for low carbon goods – 02 Apr 2012 – News from BusinessGreen.

Accor launches PLANET 21 Sustainability Program

Accor is taking sustainable development to new heights, with the launch of PLANET 21.

The name is a direct reference to Agenda 21, the environmental action plan signed at the Rio Earth  Summit in 1992, and reminds us of the urgent concern that face our planet in the 21st century and the  need to change our methods of production and consumption logo_planet21_accor_hotelspatterns to preserve human beings and  eco-systems. With PLANET 21, Accor is making 21 commitments and the same number of quantified  goals for the year 2015, including:

  • employees trained in disease prevention in 95% of hotels;
  • 80% of  properties promoting balanced meals ;
  • 85% of hotels using eco-labelled products;
  • a 15% reduction in  water consumption;
  • 10% decrease in energy use at Accor’s owned and leased hotels worldwide.

“At a time when the Group is embarking on a phase of brisk expansion, with the aim of becoming the  global reference in hotel industry, we are reaffirming our choice of responsible growth capable of  generating shared value for all”, said Denis Hennequin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of  Accor.

“With the PLANET 21 program, we are putting sustainable hospitality at the core of the
Group’s strategy, development and innovation. I am convinced that sustainable development will  lead us towards a new business model. PLANET 21 gives us a fantastic driver of competitiveness for  our brands, attractiveness for our customers and partners and loyalty for our employees”.

Since 1994, when Accor first established its Environment Department, the Group has adopted  numerous solutions to contribute to the development of local communities, reduce water and energy  consumption and limit the environmental footprint of its hotels. With PLANET 21, Accor is reinforcing  its determination to put sustainable development at the heart of its activities: 21 commitments that  involve customers, partners and employees in order to improve Accor’s sustainability performance.

For these reasons, the new PLANET 21 strategy includes a program to engage customers, inviting  them to contribute to the hotels’ actions and achievements. From making a reservation to staying  and or dining in Accor hotels, customers will discover a rich and diverse array of messages that will  encourage them to contribute actively to the hotel’s action through a few simple gestures.

The tone of the messages will be friendly and thoughtful, aimed at encouraging customers to participate without  ever making them feel guilty.

How to make your hotel greener: 40 easy steps to follow

Hotel Management Asia recently published a list supplied by Pineapple Hospitality we found really interesting and useful if you aim to make your hotel a greener one.green_hotel_image

1. Programmable and digital control of your HVAC systems: Use electronic thermostats in guestrooms with pre-set settings to minimize energy consumption.

2. Key Card Energy Management System turn off lights when guests are not in room.

3. A linen and towel reuse program is a must.

4. Consider either Organic Cotton Linens or Linens made with Tencel+Plus™

5. Ozone laundry systems reduce the Water, Energy and Chemicals used by the wash.

6. Advance Laundry Solutions also has new drying technology that reduces energy consumption by up to 90%, yet requires no vent and extends textile life.

7. In-room recycling.

8. Recycling containers in all public areas.

9. Use compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs and energy-saving lighting fixtures

10. Install motion sensor-activated lights in areas that are infrequently used.

11. Use natural light as much as possible in common areas, restaurants and meeting rooms. Consider changing window coverings or installing skylights to improve to reduce artificial lighting.

12. “Green roofs” create energy savings by acting as super insulators, keeping buildings warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They also serve as a storm water management systems, catching pollutants as they drain off the roofs.

13. If not plants, how about installing solar panels on your roof?

14. Improve window and door seals. You will save on heating and cooling costs, reduce noise levels and decrease dust circulation.

15. Improve air quality by circulating outside air into guestrooms.

16. Identify something that is being discarded and find re-use for that item – such as reusing old tablecloths to make napkins.

17. Turn off all lighting/equipment/computers when not in use.

18. Make guest registration paperless.

19. Scan and email instead of fax.

20. When you do need to print, use recycled paper, soy-based inks and print double-sided.

21. Biodegradable 100% recycled room keys.

22. Use biodegradable and all-natural bathroom amenities, such as soaps, lotions, shampoos and conditioners.

23. Use bathroom amenity dispensers rather than individually packaged amenities.

24. Buy amenities, food and cleaning products in bulk to reduce waste and transportation costs.

25. 1.6 gallon per flush toilets installed in all rooms and guest areas.

26. Low-flow faucet aerators installed throughout the building and in all guestrooms.

27. Use of environmentally friendly (low VOC) paints.

28. Check with your pest management company to ensure use of integrated pest management (IPM) products and policies that are environmentally friendly and reduce the use of chemicals.

29. Use groundcover and drought-resistant plants to reduce amount of mow-able grass on your properties.

30. Go Smoke-Free!

31. Serve meals buffet style to reduce packaging and waste.

32. Use electric buffet warmers rather than canned fuels.

33. Serve water by each guest’s request rather than pre-pouring.

34. Stop using plastic water bottles.

35. Offer guests bicycles for short trips instead of driving.

36. Consider hybrid or electric vehicles for your fleet.

37. Used recycled rubber for the cardio room floor, or recycled tiles for pool floors.

38. Upcycle or recycle items you no longer need or use for their original purpose – such as in-room furnishings.

39. Give leftover food and/or amenities to charities.

40. Plant a garden and harvest organically-grown vegetables for your restaurant.

NEW: Objects without barcodes scanned at supermarkets

Toshiba Tec has recently created the Object Recognition Scanner, which reads items without the use of barcodes.

According to the Japanese company, barcodes can sometimes fail to register with scanners in supermarkets, leading to longer waiting times for customers and requiring checkout assistants to enter the code by hand. DigInfo report that the Toshiba Tec scanner, which is still in development, uses alternative technology which scans items based on their appearance, doing away with the need for barcodes altogether.

This is particularly useful for fresh produce, where barcodes are often absent. The firm says the device processes items based on color and pattern and is nuanced enough to tell the difference between two types of apples. It can rapidly separate the object from its surroundings and can scan items when they are in motion.

The video below from DigInfo offers a demonstration of the device in action:

via Supermarket scanner recognizes objects without barcodes | Springwise.

Marks & Spencer Opens Sustainable Learning Store in India – Green Retail Decisions

Marks & Spencer (M&S) opened its first high street (main street) sustainable learning store in India at South Extension Market in Delhi – as part of the company’s drive to become the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015.

The three-floor, 20,000 square foot store hosts a range of sustainable construction and design features to reduce energy usage and waste, according to a company statement. The store will provide M&S with valuable insight into sustainable building practices in India, which it will use to support future projects in the country.

The store is one of only a few retail outlets in India to build to American standards: it has applied for a Gold LEED* rating, which recognizes its sustainable features including:

Heat transmitting glass, helping to maintain in-store temperatures and cut UV ray penetration by 90 percent

  • Solar reflective tiles that keep the store cool
  • Use of ENERGY STAR certified equipment
  • Energy meters to monitor the store’s energy performance
  • Rain water harvesting
  • Dedicated recycling bins
  • The use of rapidly renewable raw materials, such as engineered wood
  • Excellent public transport links and reserved parking spaces for car pools

“We’re delighted to open our new store at Delhi’s premier shopping destination,” said Yogesh Yadav, M&S Store Manager at South Extension Market. “It’s a pleasure to welcome customers across Delhi to our first sustainable high street store, which not only helps the environment but also provides us with invaluable learnings as we continue to build our presence in India.”

M&S has committed to opening two new sustainable learning stores in the UK each as a part of its “Plan A,” M&S’ environmental and ethical program, launched in 2007 and extended in March 2010. M&S opened its first sustainable learning store in Sheffield in April 2011, followed by its Stratford City store in London in September 2011. Plan A takes a holistic approach to sustainability focusing on involving customers, involving all areas of the business and tackling issues such as climate change, waste, raw materials, health and being a fair partner.

In November 2011, M&S opened its first international sustainable learning store at Market City Mall in Bangalore. The 20,000 square-foot clothing, home and gifts store features energy efficient lighting, using 15 per cent less energy, energy efficient air conditioning, water saving technology and high levels of construction waste has been recycled. The store is aiming for a LEED rating of Silver.

Marks & Spencer opened its first store in India in 2001 and in April 2008 signed a Joint Venture with Reliance Retail to form Marks & Spencer Reliance India Pvt Ltd. M&S now has 25 stores located in Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Amritsar, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad.

via Marks & Spencer Opens Sustainable Learning Store in India – Green Retail Decisions.

Social Commerce and Curated Content for Retailers 2.0

Recently published as part II of a previous part I published on January 31st, this Retail Touchpoints article deals with Social Commerce with a stronger emphasis on social curation, a must to know for all retailers. Enjoy!

“In Part I of this Social Commerce feature, Walmart toldRetail TouchPoints: “The first generation e-Commerce sites brought the store to the web. We think the next generation will be about building a multichannel experience that integrates the store, the web and mobile seamlessly, with social identity being the glue,” Ravi Raj, VP of @WalmartLabs, stated.

Charlie Cole, VP of Online Marketing for Lucky Brand, also shared his viewpoints on social commerce with RTP: “Social commerce is important to us because it allows for a revenue event directly at the point of social interaction. The approach is integral to our other channel strategies: Across social sites we want to make sure we are tracking not only direct revenue attribution but also understanding the ‘view through’ component of the interaction.  Ideally, we want people to interact with products on their own terms and by doing so we heighten the brand relationship.”

However, Cole said he believes social at its core will be a “top of funnel” driver, more so than a direct response vehicle, “but it could be that integrated shopping experiences change that trend in the long term.”

Underscoring Raj’s and Cole’s comments, Facebook’s recent IPO to raise $5 billion, as well as its reported 65% boost in 2011 net income, emphasize that social networking and e-Commerce are fusing to present significant opportunities for retailers to further engage with brand advocates and loyal shoppers on a more intimate level.

In Part II of the Social Commerce Report, several retailers share their social commerce success stories and  insights about its future.

Social Reviews, Curation and Gamification Grab Consumers’ Attention
Social ratings and reviews are key to improving the online shopping experience and subsequent conversion rates at Ice, an online jewelry retailer. Though not a new strategy, Dave Haber, Senior Director of Social Media, told RTP that “Ice continues to focus here because allowing our customers to rate, review and better educate onsite visitors has been one of our most powerful forms of social engagement.

“In fact, we see customers that create, read or share ratings or reviews converting at 2.5-times the rate of an average site visitor ― that’s a 250% improvement in the conversion rate,” he noted.

Another area of social commerce Haber’s team is focusing on is the idea of social curation ― the ability for people to curate selections of products, brands, imagery, etc., in order to create their own personal lens of shopping needs and experiences. Haber points to a site called, which allows participants to organize web clippings onto a virtual bulletin board and share them with friends. For example, for Valentine’s Day, visitors can create a board called “Jewelry Gift Ideas,” and attach (or “pin”) a necklace or earrings from Ice. Pinterest users can click through “pinned” items to access the product detail page at the Ice homepage and ultimately make a peer-recommended purchase.

Haber also sees online gaming as a huge social commerce opportunity that can impact the ways consumers interact with online retailers and brands. The NRF’s “Social Retailing Blueprint” study looks at “gamification,” defining it as the use of game play mechanics and dynamics for non-game applications, products and related services. This tactic is used in consumer-driven web sites and mobile applications to encourage sustained engagement or incentivize other behaviors.

Gamification in the context of retail operations and social marketing tactics helps drive customer transactions. Online shoe retailer, for example, tapped gamification to double advertisement click-throughs and boost share rates via Facebook by 50%. DKNY was among the retail initiators of social gaming. Today that group includes Best Buy, CafePress, Gilt Groupe, H&M, Nike, Rue LaLa, Simon Malls, Sport’s Authority, Valentino and many others.

Telling Stories, Gifting and Social Sweepstakes Win Big
The opportunities for social commerce tactics continue to branch out. In January 2012, Facebook announced 60 new web partners that will appear in the site’s users’ Timeline offering. Timeline is a new profile that gives users an easy way to “share and highlight your most memorable posts, photos and life events on your timeline. This is where you can tell your story from beginning, to middle, to now,” according to

A number of merchants have recently introduced new social commerce sites and apps:

  • — One of the 60 new Facebook partners is, an e-Commerce marketplace for design. In a recent blog about its social commerce innovations,’s CEO Jason Goldberg, revealed: “Fab is thrilled to be among the first to launch a timeline app. To get started, you can opt-in on Fab to add the app to Facebook Timeline, your future purchases will be shared on your Timeline, and you’ll be able to discover the items most popular among your friends through the Facebook News Feed and ticker. Clicking through on the Fab Member’s username then shows that user’s Fab Profile, which displays all of the items the member has purchased, faved, or added to the Fab Inspiration Wall. [This] Social Shopping launch is just the start. We’ll be continuing to forge ahead and innovating at the intersection of social and commerce,” said Goldberg.
  • @WalmartLabs — @WalmartLabs launched an app on Facebook called Shopycat last December, which recommends gifts for friends and family based on their likes and tastes. Earlier in January it launched Get on the Shelf (, “which allows us to crowd source the next great product to carry on our shelves,” Raj told RTP. “Both these initiatives have been off to a great start in terms of usage. You can expect to see more innovative social products from @WalmartLabs in 2012,” he said. “Our scale at Walmart with retail stores, combined with social commerce, positions us well to succeed in the new generation of e-commerce.”
  • Brookstone — Bill Wood, CIO at Brookstone, said the chain’s recent partnership with SWAGG, a gift management app extended Brookstone’s reach into the mobile social commerce space. It did this by allowing consumers to give and redeem gift cards via their mobile device, as well as access offers and promotions from any smartphone. He described the strategy during his presentation entitled “Technology-Enabled Social Media” at the Social Commerce Strategies Convention in Las Vegas late January.

Woods told RTP: “Social commerce is proving to be a valuable tool to enhance storefront appeal. This holiday season, Brookstone conducted a Foursquare promotion offering a $10 discount for check-ins at our retail locations, which blended our online strategies with our brick and mortar consumer engagement.”

  • SquareTrade — A service provider of extended warranties for consumer electronics, SquareTrade leveraged social commerce to promote its services in conjunction with the release of the iPhone 4S. Looking for a cost effective way to spread and track word-of-mouth, SquareTrade launched a hybrid of Social Referral and Social Sweepstakes products. Coupling the two products added a viral aspect to the referral campaign, which was promoted via email and Facebook. The campaign included two offers: $10 for every referral, and $100 for every five referrals, with referrers getting $5 off their warranties as an incentive to buy one. SquareTrade also gave away “50 iPad 2’s in 25 Days,” a program allowing referrers to enhance their chances of winning by sharing, since both the chosen winner and the individual that referred them received an iPad 2.

In the first 10 days of the campaign, more than 10,000 SquareTrade brand advocates were identified. Advocates shared with an average of five friends, and the campaign generated more than 60,000 social shares across Facebook, Twitter and email. Referrals drove 500 new customers, each purchasing a $100 product.

“We wondered whether people would still be sharing after the sweepstakes ― and they did,” reported Will Spencer, Marketing Manager for SquareTrade. “Thousands of organic shares continued when the campaign ended. The sweepstakes and its aftermath succeeded in validating that social commerce is a strategy in which our customers are willing to participate. On the strength of that data and the success we achieved, social commerce will most likely become a bigger part of our overall strategy in 2012, with more product categories eligible and a wider range of customers participating,” reported Spencer” (Source: Retail Touchpoints)
Dozens of vendors have recently entered the social commerce space, including Adgregate, Baynote, Bazaarvoice, 8th Bridge, Extole, IBM, Moontoast, Oracle, Payvment, ShopIgniter, 360i and TurnTo, all helping to distinguish social commerce as the new era of e-Commerce.