Archive by Author | thereminion

The Near Future of Retail – bridging physical and digital worlds

According to EuroCis 2015 “customers are looking for the ultimate customer journey across all channels”. The 4.0 shopping experience looks “smart, convenient and fully networked” from “at home or at store, off or online”(1). At the end of February 2015 trade visitors from over 60 countries gathered at Düsseldorf in Germany to fetch information from 318 exhibitors on the latest solutions, trends and products in retail information technologies. Myself, I participated the EuroCis event on Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th. Past year I visited their related event Euroshop 2014, which is also about retail but with a wider theme.

A Tour of EuroCis2015

According to Bell Pottinger Digital (3) trends which will shape our world in 2015 are for example technological such as: Near field communication, Internet of things and beacons, and behavioral such as ‘real-time’, meaning for example real-time marketing. For those who don’t know,’beacons’ are small technical devices designed to “attract attention to a specific location(4)”. Bridging digital and physical in retail context provides a great challenge. I dare to say we have only seen a scratch of a surface on this field. There is room for innovations and innovative thinking. For example beacons can be used in various fields of business and design in a creative way. Let’s team up for futures thinking!

As a setting, the idea of bridging physical and digital worlds, sounds inviting, but according to IBM’s Institute of Business Value survey, explored in news feed of WGSN.com (2) retailers fail to meet customer’s digital expectations. WGSN has interviewed Kali Klena who led the IBM study, according to Klena: “Consumers are having rich digital experiences and their expectations are rising.” Consumers are for example requiring inventory visibility and a personalised communication with a retailer when they are online (48% of the shoppers according to study). 44% of the shoppers wanted on-demand communication while being in the store.

3 service design challenges in retail

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Helsinki Service Design Jam – Case study: Ice to the eskimos

Jamming is about forming teams, developing ideas, prototyping and sharing them with the world. (1) It’s also about “improvising e.g. dancing around the idea”, as our guest lecturer Jani Turku, put it on Saturday morning. And at the end, a new piece of art is born, co-created by all the team members. As a part time musician, I’m familiar with a word ‘jamming’ in terms of music. Helsinki Jam was my first service design jam and based on this experience, jamming services is not so different from playing music.

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Left: Jamming is also about rubber chickens and (right) eating, but more about this later

In music, jam sessions may be based on a theme or a chord, or they may be fully improvisational. Likewise, our service design jam had a secret theme, which was revealed on Friday evening. A lot happens between revealing a theme on Friday and pitching a project on Sunday. Teams form a problem, they go out on a research trip to find out if the problem is worth solving, they question their project, they built a prototype, and finally they pitch their end results to an audience. In this particular jam session, our team created a prototype ‘Ice to the Eskimos – How to become a sales person of your dreams’. An app for retail, to help with the process of inducting new staff members to organization. The app gamifies information flow and it can be used both for educational and social purposes. So, how did we end up here?

Doing not talking

Friday night opened with welcome words by two speakers: Håkan Mitts and Minna-Kaarina Forssén from Aalto University. Followed by the presentation of futures thinking by futures specialists Anu K. Nousiainen and Minna Koskelo from Helsinki Futures Thinking network and was closed with practical issues presented by Mikko Heiskala and Jaakko Porokuokka. The secret theme was introduced (you can watch it from the link below)

Based on the rebus, we were asked to write down eight problems, which were then to be developed further in teams. Our team: Annina Antinranta(myself), Emma Dahl, Mira Kirvesmäki and Xiang Ye (and Katja Stolt who was present on Friday) discussed first about subjects such as safety issues, finding information, written versus visual information etc. Finally we narrowed down our problem to safety instructions. Our initial question was:‘ Do people know what to do in a case of an emergency?’

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In Jams, multidisciplinary teams work under a statement: Doing, not talking. Instead of talking about something to come, one should show a prototype and test it. According to Håkan Mitts,  when teams go out and start doing research, their problem usually transforms to something else. This happened to our team as well.

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Wrapping up the “New Service Development and innovative service systems” course

During this fall, we have been introduced to various business related topics. In the “New Service Development and innovative services systems” course, we have learned the basics of blueprinting and how to create a business model canvas. Course objectives include; students can create a plan for developing a service concept and also evaluate and improve an organisation’s service development process. Each of us had prepared a blueprint and a canvas for one service and on thursday 12th of December we gathered together to present our assignments to the class and to workshop our ideas further together.

In the morning we had some extra topics in the schedule. First we got introduced to our upcoming final thesis and got a little pre-assignment for the first official thesis workshop in January. Then we had a presentation of the Service Design Global Conference 2013, Our fellow student Katrin Mathis attended the conference and presented her key findings to the rest of the class. Accompanied with comments from another attender, our fellow student Itziar Pobes, the rest of the group got good insights into the event. Katrin’s excellent blog post about the SDN conference can be found here.

The Blueprints and canvases

For our blueprint and canvas -presentations, we were divided into smaller groups. Each student presented his/her project to the group, and together each group chose one project to be developed further in the afternoon workshop. I presented my fictional plan for e-commerce and retail and my idea of the personalised e-shop customer experience was chosen for further development with a help of CoCo tool kit.

CoCo Toolkit

CoCo tool kit is created in co-operation between Laurea University of Applied Sciences and the University of Cambridge. It was a parallel project to VTTs (Technical Research Centre of Finland) ServChange project. Authors include: Krista Keränen, Bernhard Dusch and Katri Ojasalo. We got a special introduction to the topic, since one of the authors Katri Ojasalo is also our teacher on this course.

The tool kit is a collection of five tools and a workbook. And it is designed to help businesses in their challenges in co-creation activities. You can read more about the tool kit here.

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On the left: The Co-creation workbook found in the box. On the right: CoCo author, our teacher Katri Ojasalo (on the left side), presenting tools and toolkit to our group. Antti Kytö and Nanda Kumar (on the right side) are listening.

Re-inventing Retail and other presentations

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