A fashionable metal fruit

iMacs by Apple

iMacs by Apple

Search for “orange iMac” on the internet and you will find an array of cool Apple products that are orange. It’s small wonder the brand has dominated and continues to dominate the technology scene.

The technical side of an Apple device attracts most people who purchase it, but the fact that this device is enclosed in a visually appealing cover calls on an entire other sector of the population which may not have been looking to obtain the piece of machine previously.

According to John Maeda in his post on Linkedin, “Design has always been about the substantive and the superficial at the same time. It’s what makes its relationship with technology enigmatic, integral and seductive. Over time, we have seen the two ebb and flow, each taking their turn in the driver’s seat.”

The key to the design aspect versus the technological aspect is for it to develop alongside the technical, to present a product with increased worth and uniqueness in all ways possible. The “look” of an Apple product is also a perfect example of how a device can become part of a person’s identity, changing the way others see this person in a social scene. And yet, the latest models continue to keep up with the latest features that have become a “necessity” of the modern everyday life, making them an indispensible companion.

So how far should these companies go to try to make a piece of technology fashionable? As far as possible, because the days of large old rusty computers and gadgets is over and the 21st century has brought us into a world of fast-paced computerized every-day functions.

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A “plus” opportunity

Nordstrom sizing chart

Nordstrom sizing chart

Women’s sizes in clothing currently range from 0 to 24. The grading between these sizes isn’t a simple matter, however, and is one of the reasons why it is difficult to convert a style in a size 6 to the same style in a size 22, for instance.

The making of a larger size can also represent an increased cost for the manufacturer due to the additional amount of fabrics and trims required, resulting in a potentially more expensive garment, which may not be easily accepted by its consumer.

According to an article on the matter on the Spokesman Review, however, the greater challenges faced by plus-size retailers and their respective consumers may still be related to a more social issue: a stereotypical belief that larger women do not want to dress fashionably, which in turn discourages these women from spending more on clothes.

As it (obviously) turns out, the exact opposite is true: plus-sized women like all other women do want to look fashionable. So why not spend a little more time developing fashion design expertise for a larger grade and investing in additional materials to offer more style variations for these women?

Many companies are now beginning to offer a range for both ends of the sizing spectrum and there is a potential for anyone interested in joining the plus-size industry to increase their market capacity.

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Haute technology

Photo on 2013-11-22 at 14.54 _2

So what? Shirts light up, fabrics change color and threads move back to their original place to fix holes, automatically. But what about combining everyday clothing with everyday functions?

Take Marks & Spencer’s iPod suit, for instance. For just $350, you can have a suit with a smart-fabric, touchpad lapel that has a five-button electronic control panel. This pad is attached to a cable that runs under the lining of the jacket to plug into an iPod held in an inside pocket.

When the time comes to charge the iPod, you head to the beach and sunbathe for an hour while your solar shorts or solar bikini by New Yorker Andrew Schneider charges the iPod using 40 flexible photovoltaic panels that feed into a USB connection.

As the day comes to an end, you decide to go for a jog. Your smart running shoes by Nike can tell you how far you’ve run and how many calories you’ve burnt through a tiny transmitter that sends information to your now-charged iPod.

It will be interesting to see how far people will take this merge between fashion pieces and technological functions. Have a look at some other interesting ideas at:

http://303magazine.com/2012/10/hybrid-future-fashion-meets-technology/

 

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POS system advantages

image

While surfing the fashion software demo site, I began to wonder how many fashion companies have failed due to the lack of an integrated POS system in their businesses. It is difficult to imagine a successful fashion label these days that doesn’t have some sort of inventory management and POS solution.

Similar to my previous post on E-Commerce, a POS system also has its advantages when it comes to running a retail business.

With a large amount of staff managing sales and an increasingly fast retail environment where several transactions can occur simultaneously,  an efficient system that records sales and automatically updates inventory figures in the back-end has become invaluable to any physical and/or online fashion business, which is what the POS side of a software manages.

Benefits that can result from having a proper POS system include: control of inventory and sales figures, managing discounts with applicable items, ensuring a connection between stock at multiple locations of the same company, and more efficient use of time and personnel.

In the fashion industry especially, the difference between having a POS system and not having one can mean the success of one fashion company and failure of another that offers a very similar product. This is why fashion software such as that of Niche is very much sought after, since it provides a POS solution specifically tailored to the fashion industry.

There are online demos that permit you to try using a POS management system if you are not already familiar with it. Check out the Niche demo site for a fashion-related POS experience: http://www.nicheweb.com.au

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To E-Commerce or not to E-Commerce?

keyboard with shopping cartOne would think that E-Commerce is the way forward for anyone selling anything. Turns out this is not yet the case for Australian manufacturing and wholesale distribution sectors who currently hold only 10% of online E-Commerce presence.

I was sent an article about this “lag in E-Commerce adoption” from a colleague and asked myself, “why such a low take up?”

As it turns out, according to a Net Suite study on the matter, despite 75% of businesses in manufacturing and wholesale distribution displaying strong optimism regarding their prospects in growing the e-commerce channel, many are still unprepared to face the challenges.

Some of these challenges include the loss of direct relationships with B2B customers, system integration issues and feeling the pressure to lower online prices. This linking of customer orders to integrated systems is probably the key to success, reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

The Niche fashion software solution is a good example of this. Clients already on the Niche platform have access to a B2B and B2C module which fully integrates back into the ERP. Only a handful of systems can provide this service, and the advantage of Niche is that it caters specifically to any sort of company – suppliers, retailers, wholesalers, etc. – in the fashion industry.

Niche handles both Indent and Stock modes, which means that during a season the retailer can check and see what stock availability there is for any style without having to contact the supplier. Even though they are not speaking directly to a rep, there is the added convenience of browsing and placing orders at any time.

Although moving online does result in a loss of intimacy in dealing directly with the customer, face-to-face, both ends benefit from the growing time and cost-effective online presence. And what’s more, this service is almost as good as face-to-face with today’s video/chat/phone communication options! Say a retailer places an order. Once confirmed, this retailer can view the order before accepting, and call a sales person to obtain other relevant information before making a decision.

It really is just a matter of getting organized in the back-end, and arranging for efficient transfers of information between computer and multiple outlets (retail, wholesale, etc) on the internet. Once initial installation and integration barriers are surpassed, I believe the growth of an online E-Commerce presence for manufacturers, distributors and everyone else offering a product or service will be exponential. Just wait and see..

Read more: http://www.powerretail.com.au/multichannel/netsuite-study-manufacturers-lag-in-e-commerce/#ixzz2jwHkHVj5

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Are you a victim of Retargeting?

arrow-on-targetWithout knowing, have you noticed that the same advertisements keep popping up as you visit websites? If so – you are the victim of retargeting.

The concept is relatively simple, you visit a website, but you don’t buy, so the website places a little tracker into your browser (a cookie). When you leave the website and visit others, ones with paid advertising you will notice ads coming from the very same companies that you just visited.

Initially I did not know of retargeting but I became really suspicious when I looked at a coffee table from a website, visited another and low and behold there is an ad for it. The table was not on special but it was bundled with other items I had also looked at from the previous vendor. Crikey, what’s going on here?? Then I looked at the entire page I was on and looked at all the ad’s around the page top, bottom, to the side and then realised that the ads being displayed are of site that I have visited in the past months.

Then I realised I have been a victim of – Retargeting.

I was not amused simply because the same ads kept appearing, I was thinking these companies must be doing a global push but no, the ads where following me around like a bad smell. So after attending a retail fair I heard the word retargeting and low and behold this was what was happening to me. I read up on how it works which is by using cookies – which are not dangerous, so I simply cleared my cookies and presto ads are gone – now I am getting a set of new ads – phew much happier now – well for the moment.

What does this mean, it means you live in a filtered world, like a bubble where ads and new information are being filtered for you without your knowing. This filtering can make you think and believe something is not quite what it seems. Filtering is not new, newspapers do it all the time. However Newspapers had journalists doing the filtering a person with some emotion, intelligence, empathy. Now this filtering is done via algorithms, smart machines, predictive technology. My concern is what information am I really missing what is not being showed to me. A computer is deciding this and not necessarily with the correct intentions.

Website analytics, if you have ever used google analytics have you noticed how true the results look. Well this is because google analytics hides your true hits. It does not tell you how many time bots have trawled your site, nor the number of hits by malicious people either. It hides the underground of what is really going on.

News.com.au when you click on an article the url changes just for a split second and you can see a redirection to outbrain. Your reading is being tracked, why so they can deliver articles to you that it believes are more engaging. Personally I am not sure what to make of this, other than all the big media players are doing this. Similarly don’t think Google gives you unbiased results. It tries to give you results based on previous search history. So next time you type the word Egypt, does it give you news or travel advise – there is a ted talk on this. http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html

Now for the last and most scariest of all is Facebook. Facebook has made recommendation for friends which I have only had contact via phone or email. These are people that I have met professionally, I am not in any of their photos, nor do I have any other correspondence outside work. Yet facebook made a link, I was very scared, so much so I almost shut down my account. I didn’t because I would lose lots of connections but also I actually don’t put much on it anyhow.

Retargeting, filtering, snooping these corporations know a lot about you. They collect lots of data about what you do, where you shop, eat, visit etc. They would even know places that you have been and not even taken a photo as you may have accidently appeared in some other persons random one. Personally I am not opposed but I am concerned when you do not have access to this. It is a privacy issue, where most people say we live in a public world so be public, yet when it comes to discuss items such as salary and medical people become very private. So for me it becomes a choice of being able to opt in and out. If that means Facebook will charge me some fee each year to not collect information – would I pay – most likely, If I was guaranteed that information collected is mine and not theirs. However the question becomes how can we live in an unfiltered world, the simple answer to that is you never will. The only choice you have is to try and open your sources not just to one but many. Also be careful of sites such as flip book if you want to have an unbiased view. These are great for being dished content, however sometimes you also need to see what else is out there.

If you have read this article then you know there is some hope.  Back to the kitchen to find that tin foil to cover my head.

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Pink and Gold

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