Category Archives: Technology

Add your own creations to the menu

Tokyo’s Logbar uses iPads to enable its patrons to make their own concoctions and add them to the menu for other guests to buy.

During my daily research on the web I usually find great ideas or new trends that help me to enlarge my professional know-how and related vision but today, thanks to my friend Silvia who forwarded me this news, I’m glad to share with you something which sound to me like a new era of social entertainment or social involvement and why not a new way to make profit.

20130808-130933.jpgHere how it works: “Each customer is handed an iPad Mini upon entering Logbar and is required to create an account and fill out their personal profile before they can use the device. When they do, they can access the bar’s drinks menu, place an order and take advantage of a number of social features, such as liking and sharing their favorite cocktails and chatting with friends and other guests. Each account holder gets a news feed which logs their recent orders, shows them what other people in the bar are drinking and offers recommendations based on their choices. While Logbar stocks many popular cocktails such as Mojitos and Martinis, the platform enables users to make their own cocktails by selecting the glass, alcoholic ingredients, mixers and adornments. They can then order the creation, name it and add it to the menu for anyone else to try.
Important: Creators receive JPY 50 whenever someone else orders their creation.
The video below explains a bit more about the concept:

The system aims to better connect customers through fun, creative activities and communication channels, and the possibility for guests to make money while they drink is certainly a unique one. (source)

Do you think this kind of interactivity could be healthy for the business?

What a good tasting packaging!

Some people have a lot of ideas. Inventor and chemical engineer David Edwards chronicles the ones he makes happen on his personal website—everything from text books hes written to new companies hes started.

In the past, he figured out a way to make and sell “breathable” food, but his latest idea, and the startup he founded to commercialize it, is one that actually may change the way we eat.

WikiCells is a form of edible packaging that will attempt to eliminate societys wasteful addiction to packaging—millions of tons worth end up in landfills each year, according to the EPA.

According to the new ventures website, the idea for WikiCells is rooted in the way nature has always delivered nutrients: in a digestible skin “held together by healthy ions like calcium.”

Apples, potatoes, tomatoes: they all have an edible exterior that protects the treat within. Even something that isnt exactly delicious—like a citrus peel—finds its way into the kitchen in the form of zest.”This soft skin may be comprised primarily of small particles of chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, or many other natural substances with delicious taste and often useful nutrients,” writes the WikiCells team.

“Inside the skin may be liquid fruit juice, or thick pudding.” So far Edwards and his collaborators—chief among them the industrial designer François Azambourg—have experimented with a gazpacho-stuffed tomato membrane, a wine-filled grape-like shell, and an orange juice-laden orb with a shell that tastes like, you guessed it, an orange.

Possibilities like an edible milk bottle or yogurt container are not out of the question. This summer WikiCells plans to market ice cream in an edible shell to a French audience—a high-tech version of something the Japanese have long enjoyed: ice cream-stuffed mochi.

via Packaging Never Tasted So Good: The Brave, New World of Edible Wrappers – Lifestyle – GOOD.

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.

Hoppit: highly curated recommendations for restaurants based on ambience

Tourists already have a variety of options when trying to work out what to do based on their mood. In the US, UK and Canada the I Feel London site, which groups activities by participant mood — energetic, sophisticated, hungover — is one such example. hoppit

Taking a similar concept and applying it to restaurants, Hoppit is the first site to provide a dining-out search engine which filters its results based on the ambience of venues.

Based in Manhattan and currently available in 25 cities in the US, each restaurant in the Hoppit database is tagged with one of ten “vibes” or types of atmosphere. These include ‘classy & upscale’, ‘hipster’, ‘romantic’ and ‘cozy & quaint’, among others. Users can manage their search results based on these categories, as well as the type of people they will be dining with – whether friends, family, business associate or date — the food they would like to eat, and the noise volume they would like to experience. Hoppit then displays a list of the nearby restaurants suited to the user’s plans and mood.

The service uses “natural language processing technology and algorithms” to sort its data, which draws on existing online reviews. Search results are complemented by food and drink deals through sites such as Groupon and Gilt City, which are shown beside the restaurant options.

via Site helps users choose restaurants based on atmosphere | Springwise.

Is digital retail a sustainable opportunity?

 for the Guardian Professional Network

I was on a panel this week to launch BT’s Retailtopia, a study event which examines the immense impact that information technology is likely to have on shopping over the next 10 years. On current trends, online shopping will account for over half of all purchases in a decade, with Amazon set to overtake Walmart as the planet’s biggest retailer. And although UK companies are currently world leaders in online and digitally-enabled shopping, I think that very few of the big retail players are really prepared for the scale of the changes to come.

We are likely to see not just more online shopping, but a blurring of the online and physical experience, with shoppers at home able to visit virtual changing rooms and shoppers in store able to access a cloud of information about products.

We are likely to see the arrival of the “internet of things” with every product given a digital identity, every movement mapped, and every preference logged. Information will overlay all areas of our lives. This will produce a rich seam of data to be mined, and analysing – and acting on – those data patterns will be key to retail success.

We are also likely to see a whole load of new players enter the game – peer-to-peer sellers, small independents or online farmers’ markets – as new technologies democratise the market and bring down barriers to entry for smaller players.

When people do visit stores, it will be for entertainment and the leisure experience, so expect to see chef demonstrations, children’s entertainers and food tastings.

What could this all mean for sustainability? On the one hand, people will be presented with more opportunities to consume. By 2020 the store will come to the consumer, via whatever handheld device we are using then, with personalised offers to entice us to spend. There will be few physical, technological or geographical boundaries to making purchases. We certainly won’t need to carry cash. We’ll just click for what we want.

On the other hand, this cluster of new technologies does offer the opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of consumption.

Shopping may become way more efficient. With intelligence embedded in everything, retailers can use that intelligence to cut the waste they produce and reduce energy and water use. Logistics will be smarter, and adjustable in real-time. Retailers will probably start to share more infrastructure. And the higher volume and density of home deliveries should allow for efficiency savings.

Shopping could be dematerialised. There will certainly be fewer journeys to physical shops, as more people buy online. And we can also expect a far greater proportion of the nation’s wealth to be generated digitally rather than physically, with many more goods and services to be provided virtually. Just think about how the MP3 file has almost completely replaced record shops or how the Kindle is currently becoming a serious rival to bookshops.

Shopping could be more informed. The new technologies, and the information that they generate could help customers make wiser choices. There will not only be total transparency around products in terms of their ingredients and provenance; but that information can be packaged and communicated in ways that make sense to the individual shopper. The climate-change conscious could get a carbon score for their weekly shop, with suggested adjustments; people with health issues might receive nudges to ensure their purchases fit their dietary plans; while people who care about fair trade will be able to click to watch a live video feed of the farm or factory on their smart phone before buying.

The technological changes are likely to come thick and fast. The consumer experience will probably be more seamless, more personalised, more ubiquitous. And if these technologies are applied in the right ways, I hope that it might just also be more efficient, more informed, and more sustainable.

via Digital retail: A sustainability opportunity? | Guardian Sustainable Business |

Virtual Stores Prove a Hit

The virtual store wall in a South Korea Metro Station by Tesco/Homeplus was last year big hit. Now the concept has evolved, and World’s first virtual shopping store – using the walls of Seonreung subway station in downtown Seoul – displays over 500 product, ranging from food to tissue papers.

Customers can choose the delivery time and date – for orders placed before 1 p.m delivery can  be effected the same day – and delivery cost is the same as  more traditional online stores.

“A major perk of this concept is that consumers don’t have to be anywhere near the virtual store to place an order. So, if you want to order replacements of a bottle of water that you have in your hand, you don’t have to stop by the subway station’s store. You just have to scan the bottle’s barcode with the Homeplus app., and then the products are delivered later to home or office.”- Quoted Sitch News

We are sure consumers in Far East markets – like Korea and Japan – welcome this kind of technology and are at their ease with mobile barcode scanning and m-payments, but what about all the other markets? Would for istance consumers in France or Spain quickly adopt this kind of purchasing behaviour? What is your opinion about this?

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.

Willing to enter the fastest growing tourism market? Come to the 20th HOSTECH in Istanbul!

Turkey ranked as Eighth Highest tourism earner in the word in 2010 and hosted 28,632,204 foreign tourist in its 3,379 hotels and holiday villages which has 786,453 bed capacity.

hostech by tusid

With its strategic location between Europe & Asia, Turkey offers a trading platform to the world’s hospitality industry players to faciliate the sourcing and selling of global quality products. Here other amazing facts about this fast growing market:

  • Total sales of large cooking appliances is 867 million USD and grow by 10% in retail volume terms and 13 % in current value terms in 2010.
  • Large cooking appliances is expected to grow by a 13 % volume CAGR and a 12 % constant value CAGR over the forecast period.
  • In 2010, durable goods retailers accounted for an 82% share of retail volume sales. Within durable goods retailers, electrical goods retailers independents held a 69% share of sales.
  • Small kitchen appliances (non-cooking) sales increase by 12% in both retail volume and current value terms in 2010 and is expected to grow by a 15% retail volume CAGR over the forecast period

Spanning over an area of 55.000 m2, HOSTECH by TUSİD, taking place fromMarch 28th to  April 1st at Istanbul CNR Expo, is expected to bring together 550 companies from 6 continent with 45,000 professionals mainly from Middle East, (CIS) Commonwealth of Independent States and Western Europe.

Main supporter of the 20th Hospitality Technologies Exhibition will be TUSID -Turkish Food Service, Laundry & Service Equipment Manufacturers and Businessmen Association. Fair also supported by KOSGEB – Small and Medium Sized Industry Development Organization (Turkey) TÜRSAB – Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (Turkey), TUROB – Touristic Hotels and Investors Association (Turkey) and TAFED – The Federation of Turkish Cooks (Turkey), SYRITEL -Societe Syrienne Des Hoteliers (Syria), IHA Israel Hotel Association (Israel) , FIHR – Romanian Hotel Industry Federation (Romania) , BHRA – Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association (Bulgaria) and GHA – Greek Hotels Association (Greece)

As active  member of FCSI, FoodService Consultant Society International, I am glad to invite you to come and visit us at the FCSI booth – please do contact me norman|at|desita|dot|it to schedule a meeting.

A new Kinetic-based tool to track shoppers interactions

Nintendo’s Wii platform has already sparked applications well beyond the world of gaming, so it’s not entirely surprising to see Microsoft’s Kinect do much the same thing. Enter Shopperception, a Kinect-based tracking system that gathers data on shoppers’ interactions with the products on retail shelves.

The brainchild of Argentinian development company Agile Route, Shopperception uses Kinect sensors to bring 3D spatial recognition capabilities to market research applications that have traditionally relied on costly and error-prone human observers. Brands, researchers and retailers can then continuously monitor the way shoppers interact with the products on the shelves, including metrics such as how long they spend, which products they touch, which are put back and which are ultimately purchased. They can also use the technology to compare the success of competing shelf layouts or point-of-sale promotions, for example. “Heat map” reports, meanwhile, are available to depict consumers’ interest in different products or shelves. The video below demonstrates Shopperception in action:

One would be hard-pressed to think of a better way to study consumer behavior than by unobtrusively tracking real-world shoppers in a natural retail setting. Brands, retailers and researchers: one to get involved in!

via In retail stores, research tool uses Kinect to track shoppers’ behavior | Springwise.

Using Social Networks to Improve Operations

For decades the mystery shopper was the main way retailers assessed operations from a customer’s point of view. By sending in a fake shopper, typically once a month, an individual store essentially was buying a dozen performance snapshots per year.

Then telephone surveys began to supplement mystery shopping. Today, digital technologies are supplanting both, with online customer surveys providing an exponentially greater number of performance snapshots per day.

A well-managed loop that links customer experience feedback with recommendations on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp, can boost service quality and operational performance, increase traffic and create more happy customers — people who crow about a retailer online for free, turning their friends into new customers too.

A new mini-industry has emerged using these techniques, known as “customer experience management,” or CEM. Our company, Empathica — as well as a number of competitors — are providing customer feedback to operations, while partnering with “web-scraping” companies to listen to random chatter online.

Now we’re turning attention to linking operations to marketing through “social CEM.” The aim is not to drive online advertising impressions, but to explicitly and transparently drive the behavior of customers, front line service staff and retail managers. The aim is to create a true dialogue, not simply a listening post for customer kudos and complaints. And by doing so, this loop can drive meaningful operations and customer satisfaction gains.

An example: At Debenhams, a major international department store chain based in London, a customer complained through an online survey about a poor meal they received at the store’s restaurant. “Ordered turkey dinner. Very dried out. Overcooked vegetables in greasy, cold gravy.” The store manager called the customer that night, apologized, and sent a coupon for two free meals. The customer was invited to post their happiness with the problem’s resolution on Facebook, and did. The store manager made sure the kitchen turned out better turkey dinners. The result: a satisfied customer, better kitchen operations, and free social network advertising. Debenham’s effectively took what would have been a one-off customer experience problem and turned that customer into an Debenham’s advocate online and improved its operations to reduce the possibility of future disgruntled customers.

A social network feedback loop starts with information gleaned from customer surveys conducted online. Those survey-takers are then linked directly to social networks like Facebook through a link on the survey.

So how many customers will actually bother to move from surveys to socializing their experience? We have some data that suggests a healthy amount. We conducted 25 million surveys last year; more than 80 percent of respondents said they’d recommend the brand they were being quizzed about. We’ve then seen 10 to 20 percent of customers follow through with social network postings after the survey.

Some recommendations for retailers considering tying together their feedback, social, and operations loops: Customers need some nudging: incentives like coupons do the job. At 100 Boston Market restaurants, customer advocates got $3 coupons for a recommendation. In a three-month period, Boston Market received 100,000 Facebook newsfeed recommendations; advocates redeemed more than 4,000 coupons.

Finding customer advocates isn’t the only goal. Unhappy customers need to be channeled through a “customer rescue” process to help solve problems and mend relationships, and provide feedback on problems for operations to solve.

At Citibank branches in New York City, for example, every customer who completes a survey receives a call back from their bank manager within one to two days. The manager uses survey feedback and software intelligence to determine whether complaints need resolution or whether the manager should provide a simple “thank you” to reinforce the local branch’s commitment to customer service — like old fashioned retail and small local banks or credit unions still do.

The advocate process is proving far more powerful than regular social network advertising. The key is authenticity: we listen to our friends and colleagues for advice and recommendations. So while retailers and restaurant owners can buy social media advertising, the real place to drive growth is on the consumer newsfeeds. Not only are those kinds of clickthroughs more numerous. They are also more powerful. Beyond simple word of mouth advertising, poor-performing outlets get suggestions for improvement, which they use to guide better operational performance.

via Using Social Networks to Improve Operations – Gary Edwards and Mike Amos – Harvard Business Review.