OCTOBER 2016 – Rethinking Retail – Evolving Retail Spaces Across the Globe

This September, the Elecosoft team attended the BCSC Event in Manchester, where 2,500 retail professionals met to learn, connect and share ideas. Of the many fantastic and insightful seminars we attended during the event, we were particularly inspired by a talk by Wayne Hemmingway, member of the Design Council Trustee board and all-round design guru. He spoke about his ideas on how we think about retail spaces, and what they mean to us as social beings.

Hemmingway argues that life is not about shopping – it’s about interacting with each other and creating memories. So retail spaces should be about more than shopping too. The new generation is focusing on communities and creating spaces people want to be in, merging big brands with promising newcomers to create interesting new retail spaces.

Hemmingway went on to mention five up-and-coming retail spaces around the world that are leading the way in placemaking. Here is what we discovered:

New uses for space

Hackney

Hackney town centre has seen a complete overhaul: widened pavements, pedestrian crossings, and removal of guard railings. The result? Streets that are easier to walk down, and experience greater pedestrian traffic. These streets are now easier on the eye too: the 2014 Shopfront Scheme rejuvenated 30 stores on Narrow Road, Clarence Street and Mare street, financed by the London Regeneration fund.

The area has seen a 21% growth in business since 2004. Take Shoreditch, home to London’s greatest number of startups. No stone is being left unturned: Morning Lane houses 12 railway arches, previously unused, however this is now changing.  One is now home to family startup Square Root London, a small batch soda company. Fast forward to 2016, and a designer fashion hub, housing brands such as Nike and Joseph, can now be found beneath the railway. The new generation are finding innovative ways of using space in retail, and it’s working for both household names and up-and-coming brands.

hackney-london

Manhattan:

New York is a pioneer of the place making movement: and with good reason. In a concrete jungle that never sleeps, an urban oasis is a much needed area to catch up with friends and to relax. Take the infamous New York High Line: crowds flock every day to the 2.33 km long retreat. Situated in the cities infamous meatpacking district, the disused rail line faced threat of demolition in 1999. Fought for by Friends of the High Line, it now features planting, water features and seating, leading to its new identity as the “New Yorker’s back garden”. And this just so happens to coincide with 3.5 miles of prime shopping space. Create a space that the community can enjoy, and the businesses in the area are sure to flourish.

new-york-skyline

Rejuvenation and rebranding

Liverpool

Liverpool’s cultural quarter boasts an eclectic mix of galleries, digital agencies, bars and restaurants, juxtaposing the new with the old. Add in the recent development of the Liverpool One shopping centre and it seems to be working: the city centre is now a permeable space, with easy access to other districts and even the water front. 30 individual buildings make up the area, each with its own identity and unique character. A pedestrian “fast lane” is also being trialed, after slow walkers were identified as key annoyance to shoppers. Factor in Chavasse Park, an oasis of green with picnic areas and sheltered seating, and you’ve got a multi-functional space that the community can truly enjoy.  And clearly it’s working: in just 7 years Liverpool has moved from the 15th most visited UK city to the 5th.

Margate

Heading further south, Margate provides another excellent example of placemaking. The total rebranding of the UK’s oldest amusement park, Dreamland, by none other than Hemingway himself has seen a massive influx of tourism and new investment in the area. Since the £10 million refurb of Dreamland into a vintage themed park, the local community has embodied a somewhat “hipster” vibe, with old, unused buildings breathing new life as quirky coffee shops and galleries. Hemingway accredits the renewal of what was once a rundown sea side town to the growing local creative community, who are turning space into place by taking on boarded up buildings, molding the history and spirit of the town into new business.  The eclectic mix of established brands and independent businesses are part of the much wider community, one that will only continue to grow in the future.

Independent boutiques and big name brands

Mitte Distict- Berlin

Translating to “middle”, Mitte embodies the heart and soul of Berlin. Home to iconic landmarks, museums, shopping districts and much more, Mitte is a hub for locals and tourists alike. But it hasn’t always been that way. Following the fall of the Berlin wall in 1992, a complete refurbishment was needed to breathe life back into the area, and the result is a now eclectic mix of galleries, outlets, restaurants- the list goes on. Local designers and farmer’s markets are rife, particularly around Alte and Neue Schonhauser Strasse, making Mitte one of the hippest areas in town. Factor in big name brands including Lee and Pepe Jeans, and the result is a colourful mix of independent boutiques and big name brands. And it works!

The new generation are merging the old with the new, and the industrial with the green, and it’s creating interesting retail spaces that are only going to increase in popularity. Here at Elecosoft, we love to work with pioneering retailers and property professionals, and are always on the lookout for new trends in retail space. Our revolutionary systems have helped 8 of the top 10 retailers in the UK organise their property data, so they can focus on moving with the times in this fast-paced world of retail, where shopping is becoming so much more than just an exchange of money and services. The next thing on our list: visit all of these fantastic locations to keep that inspiration on a high.

For more information about our revolutionary IconSystem call 01858 468345, email us at hello@iconuk.net or visit our website http://iconsystem.co.uk

October 2015: How to implement BIM methodologies quickly and easily

Managers of property data who are looking for ways to implement building information modelling (BIM) methodologies in their working practices are likely to know there is an important deadline looming. Next year, the government mandate that all public sector building work will be using Level 2 BIM arrives.

In addition, in highly competitive industries such as retail and construction, the trend for advancement and fast-paced progress is an added pressure. These two reasons alone make it easy to see why it is so important to implement the next level BIM quickly and seamlessly.

Because Level 2 BIM involves collaborative working, mostly with how information is exchanged, it has been noticeable that developments in 3D software modelling have been slow to keep up with demand. From as few as four years ago, there has been a heightened awareness of the need to advance technology and process in the building and construction industries.

In May 2011, the UK Cabinet Office published a Construction Strategy that cemented the future of BIM compliance for good. In addition to stating plans to implement 3D BIM in all projects by 2016, the government’s report set a target of 20% reduction in capital cost and carbon burden from the construction and operation of built environments.

If this new public-sector requirement inadvertently highlighted a need for progress and technological development in a fast moving and growing industry, how can those behind in the commercial world catch up?

Given there is less than four months to meet with government standards, property managers in any industry need to move quickly.

A recent innovation can address implementation concerns. Developed as part of the Autodesk programme in San Francisco, Elecosoft launched a new online 3D model viewer that gives a complete view of over 50 different CAD file formats. In the final stages of beta testing, the innovation called IconOrbit allows users to fly around, explore and interrogate CAD files without fussing over new system or software implementation, and gives instant access.

The software innovation received praise from Autodesk’s Chief Software Architect, Jim Awe, “For far too long, designers have been forced to sync associated data back into the original 3D model where it doesn’t really belong. What Elecosoft has done is an awesome demonstration of the principle of Internet-enabled design data: the data can reside and be managed in the appropriate place, but is still visible and accessible in the context of the model.”

With IconOrbit, there is no need for plug-ins, add-ins or specific device-installed software. Designs of 3D models can be shared without sharing the original model, and users can view live data instead of old information. In short, Orbit means users can implement BIM and meet the government mandate easily, without interruption to existing systems or processes.

IconOrbit is available online now and can be trialled by visiting http://orbit.vision/

August 2015: 6 reasons you need a dynamic information system

Why a document management system falls short of a dynamic database

When it comes to managing and communicating specification information, whether web-based or not, document management systems let the side down in six ways.

1. A manual or user guide must be completed and approved before it can be published.
2. There is considerable potential for duplication and conflict across documents.
3. Content changes introduce page formatting and pagination issues.
4. Document-based information is restrictive as it is presented in one pre-determined way.
5. There is often inconsistency in presentation and style across document types and between authors.
6. Holding large amounts of information in sets of documents created by different authors results in a lack of structure and hierarchy.

Regardless of the document format – PDF, Word and Excel etc.– the problems with a document-based system remain the same. In more detail, these six issues present a strong case for introducing a dynamic database.

1. Specifications are rarely 100% ready for publication
In most cases, a small number of specifications remain outstanding prior to launch. This means that often a manual does not progress from being a draft document. With a dynamic database, a manual can be updated at any point so, most importantly, absence of supporting or additional information should not hold up publication.

2. Duplication and conflict makes work complicated
Often different types of specifications share common data. For instances where this data has to be reproduced for every manual, identifying which information must be maintained and updated can get complicated.

3. Page formatting and pagination causes more work and frustration
Because documents are preset to a page size, with page numbers and breaks, changes and updates to data present the user with a frustrating experience. Substituting the document with a new one causes the user more work too.

4. Fixed layouts don’t allow for flexibility
As information is often presented in a pre-determined format, the user bears the burden of making it consistent, eliminating conflicts and contradictions.

5. The presentation can be inconsistent
Documentation can be disjointed because different users (for example, architects and engineers) often compile aspects of specifications. This creates a need for guidelines and templates, creating more work for the database owner.

6. A lack of ownership and structure
The most common problem with file-based systems is that no single user has a complete picture of what is contained in them. This resulting lack of ownership causes information conflict, duplication and areas with data gaps.

How to solve these issues
With a dynamic information management system, these issues are wholly resolved. Sets of information are stored in individual units, allowing complete confidence in de-duplication, formatting and consistency.

Any outstanding information can be published as and when it is ready, there is only one place to amend any one item of data so replication and duplication is avoided. Plus, automatic formatting is applied to every user’s web browser and printer.

Because the system contains dynamic information, the data source feeds into a number of views consistently. Standard templates ensure consistency of presentation and there is an integral structure for where data is stored. This helps identify where information is missing or lacking.

Of course, if you are able to hold all this information on the internet rather than a local area network, you have access to it anytime, anywhere.

For more information on a dynamic system that saves users time, resource and budget, contact Elecosoft at hello@iconuk.net

JULY 2015: 3 major trends in retail technology

At the start of this year, Google – under its ‘thinkwithGoogle’ banner – shared an article authored by Peter Fitzgerald that described seven key insights into digital trends for retail.

A recap of the trends highlighted by Fitzgerald:

1. Seamless touchpoints
Retailers that allow consumers to move seamlessly between devices such as mobile, tablet and laptop, will come out on top.

2. Retail is now borderless
More retailers will test and learn in new markets, so competition in the UK and abroad is crucial.

3. Delivery and the new WWW
WWW now stands for “what I want, when I want and where I want it”.

4. Personalisation
Retailers should make consumer information relevant and useful to the individual, and humanise it.

5. The new extras – service and experience
By going beyond what’s offered by others, retailers can become the “go-to solution”.

6. The store revolution
Retail space is being transformed into experiences (such as theatrical or digital), so it’s becoming about much more than visiting a store.

7. Social commerce
Some retailers, to increase access and popularity, are leveraging Vloggers.

Now, at the halfway point in the year, how far have these trends been realised?

While we agree all of these still have relevance and are continuing trends, there are three that stand out as more important to UK retailers. Arguably, the top three retail technology trends that are particularly relevant today are:

1. Seamless touchpoints
Back in January, Fitzgerald highlighted that the average British person was using 3.1 ‘connected devices’. In April, The Guardian reported that the average British household owns 7.4 internet devices – smartphones being the most commonly internet-enabled.

With these kinds of statistics, it’s hard to ignore the relevance and importance of this trend for retailers. Most users now expect a seamless approach across all devices.

Look at Net-a-Porter.com founder Natalie Massenet’s approach to making luxury fashion even more seamless and accessible. Now, with the launch of the new app Net Set, she takes online shopping one step further by making every item in an image uploaded on her social app instantly shopable on mobile and tablet. So when one user follows another, they can click on the clothes and accessories they are wearing and view a selection of products they can purchase.

2. The new extras
More and more retail experiences are reliant on technology in order to offer an extended scope – better and faster than the competition. As Fitzgerald pointed out, smart retailers see the value in offering beyond just the ‘basics’.

It could be argued that this trend includes another of Fitzgerald’s key insights: personalisation. Personalisation is often used to offer another extra in service and experience. From personalising products, to Next’s service example – where customers can find a store close by for collection, consumers expect retailers to offer a little more that suits them.

3. The store revolution
From retailers that use iPads in store to stock-check, order and fulfil payments, to John Lewis’ ‘At Home’ outlets that use touch screens to order for delivery to shop or home, service in-store has evolved. And it is technology that is delivering this ‘revolution’.

Another fine example of this in retail space comes from Audi, who introduced a Digital Car Showroom – where screens show cars instead of the real thing. Ideal for its Audi City dealership, space is no longer an issue. Customers are able to walk in, view and choose features for their new car without even needing to sit in a vehicle.

So what do these trends mean to our retail clients?
Seamless access is one of the main reasons (in addition to convenience) Elecosoft developed its app. With instant access and the same information available across computer, laptop, tablet and mobile, it allows a smooth view of data on all platforms.

Translating a difficult experience managing data into one that offers retail property data managers convenience, simplicity and service extras also supports this thinking. And as our strapline suggests, our system offers an evolved experience as it flexes and adapts with the client’s in-store revolution.

Read Fitzgerald’s article here: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-gb/article/seven-must-know-digital-trends-for-retail-in-2015/

Find out how Elecosoft offers retailers more from its technology here: http://iconsystem.co.uk/case-studies/

MAY 2015: 3 easy steps to leading retail technology

Keeping at the forefront of technology is no mean feat. We share how to invest in your future.

A well referenced spreadsheet or storage software like Dropbox might seem like enough to store your data, but as your property portfolio begins to grow it becomes almost impossible to track whether the right people are receiving the right information. An easy-to-use system is essential in ensuring everyone from project managers to merchandisers have the latest data to complete their projects correctly.

1. Consolidate your existing information by investing in a seamless, integrated property data solution.
Once you hold all your existing data in one place, you will discover ways of streamlining your processes and communication through system features.

2. Seek expert advice on technology influencing the property development cycle.
Experts advise that improvements in smartphones and tablets have hugely impacted the speed and efficiency of industries such as retail and construction. Those who failed to keep up saw their trade suffer.

3. With BIM playing such a huge part in retail property, keep investing in developments to stay ahead of this intensely competitive industry.
With a government mandate arriving in 2016 stating government building will be using Level 2 BIM, it seems even more relevant for retailers who rely so heavily on their property management.

As technology progresses and the pace of retail quickens, it is vital that retailers adopt a system with the capability of using BIM technology, to make sure they stay ahead in an increasingly competitive industry. For more information, call 01858 468345 or email helpdesk@iconuk.net.