Archive for January, 2008

Tilt-Shift Photography

Now for something a little lighter. The below photograph was captured though a process known as tilt-shift photography; which basically makes things look like miniature models.

That’s about the extent of my knowledge on the subject. More examples can be viewed here and here.

Mini City

 Tags: Random   Published: 27th January '08

Groceries 2.0

Whilst not a frequent user, I’m nonetheless pretty darn impressed by Tesco’s online grocery delivery service. Retailing an inventory of tens of thousands of items online is a complex endeavourer and they’ve done an outstanding job of providing a fairly painless user experience.

An e-commerce store faces several interesting challenges in comparison to its physical store counterpart. A store layout systematically guides the consumer, but online, they’re presented with a blank canvas. Tesco relieves this problem its Clubcard members, allowing them to view items recently purchased in-store so that they can quickly add the items they typically purchase. Moreover, repeat orders become increasingly more simple, with a generally improved familiarity with the site and the simplicity of adding your frequently purchased items.

This streamlined process increasing works against Tesco. The shopping experience is reduced to a 10-minute chore, and crucially the consumer is consequently less likely to be lured into making impulse purchases – the bread and butter of driving revenue for a supermarket. There is no snazzy point-of-sale displays and promotions. Eye-grabbing packaging looses it’s effectiveness. It’s now far easier to add previously purchases items than it is to experiment with something new. And the ease of scanning prices creates more rational decision making.

However, I propose that there is great potential for Tesco to capitalize on unique cross-selling opportunities that aren’t otherwise possible. In a traditional store, it’s necessary for items to be separated based on their category (fresh, frozen, dairy and so on), even if they’re complimentary. Online however, there is scope to use data and algorithms to drive cross-selling through recommending complimentary products.

In the hypothetical scenario shown below, I’ve added burgers and burger buns to my shopping basket. Using data-driven knowledge of items frequently purchased together, I’m now presented with a message suggesting that I might also be interested in purchasing some tomato ketchup or some onions. The user can easily ignore the message and proceed on, or they might just think “shucks, I am getting pretty low on ketchup, so I ought to get a bottle. Gee, thanks for reminding me Tesco”. Okay, I embellished it a little – but I’m sure that most users wouldn’t find this to be overly intrusive, but instead adding genuine value.

Tesco Cross Selling

(This is a mockup of how the UI might not, it’s not a screenshot of the current design).

The opportunities are endless: peppercorn sauce with your steak; Naan bred with your curry, and so on. The concept isn’t new and I dig up few related patents that are are rather interesting, such as “Collaborative recommendations using item-to-item similarity mappings”.

Tesco could take a leaf out of the book from the master of e-commerce; Amazon – and discover other ways to utilise transaction data to boost revenue. Possibilities include allowing users to provide product ratings and feedback, view popular items, and see other products purchased by other users with similar tastes.

Update: Since drafting this post, have updated their site; adding some additional functionality and improving the design. They’ve not added any of the features I describe, but they’ve done a great job at improving the usability by making it even more clear what steps the user needs to take.

 Tags: Business, Ideas, Internet   Published: 27th January '08

Wonderful World of Dreams

I have a great interest in dreaming and believe it can play a really important role in our waking lives. On the path to lucid dreaming (a truly fascinating topic) I must first actively complete a dream diary. This entails scribbling down notes as soon as I wake up from each and every dream, even if it’s 4 in the morning.

Fearing possible libel suits, I shall not be posting the entries online this time around. However, you can still read the posts from the diary I created 3-years ago on my old blog. Reading back these posts, I can practically remember them as vividly as if they were aged memories from my waking life.

Here are some examples of the wonderful and often just plain weird entries:

Attacking Rats:

I was walking home, going past Edward’s house. I looked up into the trees and saw what I believed to be rats, although they looked more like beavers with a menacing open mouth. One of them lunged from the tree and quickly ran up to me and bit into my trainers. I noticed that I was wearing no socks but instead had a sock in my hand which was full of something. I then hit the creature with the sock and woke up.

Fruit market on another world:

I had somehow been given a special telescope with the ability to see great distances, seeing planets with great detail. I however needed to be in the sea to use the telescope. I ran around in a computer game fashion trying to find a big red circle checkpoint. I found a boat docked by a wooden pier with two people manning it. I joked around with one guy then got in a boat and haggled with the woman owner who I believe was Australian and who had a really bad attitude.Next, I remember looking through the telescope randomly at a star. As I focused, I actually found myself gliding towards where I was focusing until I was actually physically present there. The sky was rapidly moving and dark blue in colour. The beach was made up of layers of fruit, many exotic (I can remember Pineapple) although I recall no smell. I then was firmly landed in between a row of fruit where a woman was sorting through the fruit like a librarian.I then had a vision of three other woman entering the planet through a lift, and I had the feeling that they had the intention of bringing me back to Earth. I grabbed the lady (who I noticed had a tattoo underneath her belly button) and decided to use the lift myself.

Update: For those who’ve told me that they don’t dream, or cannot recall them, check out this guide to remembering your dreams.

 Tags: Dreams   Published: 17th January '08

2008 Resolutions

For the concluding part of my triple-whammy blog update, I thought I’d share some of my 2008 resolutions; or at least the ones that are shareable.

  • Read more.
  • Consume less sugar.
  • Travel to more exotic places.
  • Restart my dream diary.
  • Do some daring things.
  • Be more focused.
  • Become illustriousness for something.
  • Embark on building a virtual real estate empire.
 Tags: Random   Published: 11th January '08

In the ‘Press’

Midascode, a blog about buying and selling websites, picked up on my posts about Just Pooh and asked for an interview about my experiences.

It was an interesting experience and I’ve benefited from a nice chunk of additional visitors. The transcript was published on Boxing Day and can be viewed on their blog.

Here is a snippet to lure you in:

Keith, thank you so much for your time….. this has far exceeded my expectations, and there are some real gems of information here.

 Tags: Blog   Published: 11th January '08

Blog Redesign

The blog has received a well needed makeover today, with a custom made WordPress theme that I’ve dubbed ‘Squeezed Lime’.

I need to experiment with different colour schemes and make a few other tweaks, but I’m otherwise pretty happy with it – it’s slick, lightweight, and unique. Howoever, this may change if I decide to give back to the WordPress community and release the theme under a Creative Commons license.

Thanks to the guys at Artua for transforming my design into a functional theme.

Update: I’ve updated the look from Squeezed Lime to Squashed Blueberry. Better?

 Tags: Blog   Published: 11th January '08