Emmaboda Möbler′s web shop has been around for three years now and it has proven to be a very successful project. 2014 the turnover was 3.5 Million, an increase by 75% since 2013.

According to DIBS annual report ”E-handel i Sverige 2014”, e-commerce has increased by 7% from 2013 to 2014 (the same rate as the year before that). Home decoration (including furniture) constitutes 9% of all purchases.

When launching a completely new web shop it obviously helps if you already have a well-known brand. Emmaboda Möbler has been selling design furniture for over 100 years, but their strongest target group is rich seniors, a group not overrepresented on the web. Another concern was if people were ready to buy expensive products online. It is not uncommon that the best couches cost over 50 000 SEK.

Despite these concerns, Emmaboda Möbler decided to give it a shot. Now looking back, Emmaboda Möbler’s regular customers did not start to do their shopping on the web abandoning the physical shop, instead a new set of customers made their way to the web shop. This meant that the income from the web shop became a bonus of sorts to the normal sales made in the physical shop.

The web shop was set up on one of the first cloud platforms called Heroku. One of the advantages with Heroku is that you can scale the performance seamlessly. For example you might foresee the traffic increasing during a sale, then you just login, slide a control and at once the site is twice as fast. When the sale is over you switch back to normal mode, paying only what is necessary.

Technology is one thing, but even though a site can be terrific in many ways, it does not matter if no one finds it. A strategy involving price comparing sites proved to be very efficient from day one, attracting new users to the site. Still today 21% of all traffic comes from this setup. Yearly AdWords campaigns also boosted the traffic and have proved to grow the number of organic visitors in the long run.

Although the number of visitors is interesting you also need to keep track of the conversion rate. The conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who actually makes a purchase. If you sell more costly products, as in Emmaboda Möbler’s case, the conversion rate is understandably lower than it would be for a shop that sell cheaper products.

2014
Turnover: 3.5 Million
Visitors: 78 000
Conversion: 1.5%

2013
Turnover: 2 Million
Visitors: 55 000
Conversion: 1.2%

From 2013 to 2014 the visitors increased by 42% and the turnover increased by 75%. If the conversion rate had stayed at 2013’s level: 1.2%, the turnover would have only been increased by 40% which translates into 2.8 Million instead of 3.5 Million.

So what created this crucial increase of conversion? It is hard to say for sure, but a big change during the end of 2013 was the release of a responsive version of the site. We saw that traffic from mobiles and tablets was close to 40% and increasing. This was a lot compared to other sites so ayond recommended Emmaboda Möbler to go responsive. Looking back, it does not feel very far-fetched that users that got tired of zooming and squinting now actually went through with their purchases because of the site being responsive and adapted to their device of choice.

E-commerce, Interaction Design, Marketing, Mobile,
With hypes like “Mobile First” and Responsive web you can get the idea that it is a matter of screen size. But a mobile phone is not a small computer, it is something far different – and if realizing this you might find that there is some great potential right in front of you, for you to build better services for your customers, and to build brand.

http://designshack.net/articles/css/mobilefirst/

http://thesiteslinger.com/blog/responsive-design-why-youre-doing-it-wrong/

A mobile phone is so much more different from a computer than only being smaller, with a smaller screen and smaller buttons. In difference to a computer a mobile phone stays with its user almost at all times, in social situations and when dining alone, in good times and in bad times, in all kinds of thrilling, interesting, exciting and dull environments. A mobile phone is a device that easily can be picked up in the middle of a conversation for a party to check something that might help the conversation to continue, to become more interesting, to deepen. A mobile phone is a device that easily can be shared, in order to together understand the details of a map view, or look at someone’s photos. A mobile phone can buzz silently in the pocket. It can be something you pick up in a situation when you want to pass the time or show that you want to be left alone, or to show that you are totally fine with being just that, alone with your phone before a busy conference.

But also a mobile phone holds other technologies than a computer that can be used and make sense and aid its user and even his/her friends in all these thrilling, interesting, exciting and dull environments and situations. Technologies that most companies today do not consider how they potentially can benefit, change and develop their business. There are today a range of innovative Apps that make use of the gyro, the vibration actuator and the camera to track things like movement and sleep patters, pulse, and even blood pressure and a whole range of other things. But a problem with these Apps is that they are not developed, designed and built together with practitioners, such as nurses and doctors. Therefore, these practitioners cannot trust the data collected and produced by these Apps if a user for example wants to show this data when visiting the doctor. Also practitioners like doctors do not today have a work schedule that fit with looking at App data, as it not yet has been a decision coming from their superior to make use of these kinds of technical possibilities and develop these kinds of Apps internally in the health care system.

Moreover, this is not just about a difference between computers and mobile phones. It is about there being a difference between all kinds of screens and devices being used in different settings and scenarios where technology can aid people differently from in another setting and set up.

A screen used in the car, such as the navigation system, is for example not only for the driver to use. Of course we should develop easy to grasp interfaces for the driver when he or she is the user, but it can also be that the screen in the car scenario is turned around and read by the front seat passenger who most likely is another capable driver (though not driving right now) that in this instance have better abilities to read more complicated and detailed information that could help them both in the situation they are in. Not always is it best to shape data in a form that it can be read while driving. Perhaps navigation systems should be possible to rotate and have two modes!? http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2441952

And iPad games or any game for that reason that is used in cars can be shaped to make use of all the exciting data that is in the car to be found, like how the car is driven, how it accelerates, where in the world it is, what other cars that are nearby and what other people that are travelling in those other cars and what they are doing and much much more. This kind of data is what we used when creating three car games aimed at making it more fun for some young children to sit still and as they should and then potentially more safe when in a driving car. One game make use of the forces anything in a driving car is exposed to and invert those forces in a game set up to have the children instead of leaning with the curves, out of their child seat, fight them to gain points by sitting more upright and still. Another game play with how the car gets emotional from how it is driven and has the children mimic these emotions by making use of their small but highly expressive face muscles. This game plays with how children playing this game come to realize how the system is more capable of tracking their expressions if they hold their head upright and still right in front of the camera in use. A third game play with sensations of suspense and has children look out for shadows the car is driving though in which there are ghosts to be found and potentially caught. http://www.mobilelifecentre.org/sites/default/files/Gaming%20to%20Sit%20Safe.pdf

In the world of IoT (http://ayond.se/blogs/internet-of-things-without-people-is-internet-of-nothing/) being asked by various companies where to start and in what direction to head, making better and more interesting use of all the technologies that already are here right in front of us is such ready to hand opportunity. Can we for instance make use of accelerometer data to allow for mobile rehabilitation programs formed by our physiotherapist!? Or can we be allowed to prepare ATM activities on our mobiles and later just execute them via the NFC technology!? Or can we use motor data in the car to judge how environmentally friendly or secure a person is driving and then let that shape his/her tax and insurance costs!?

We can see how for instance Volvo build brand by being first and unique in this new world of IoT (http://www.volvocars.com/intl/sales-services/sales/volvo-on-call/Pages/default.aspx). Not all companies have the budget for this. But if still wanting to be more unique and build better mobile services for your customers, and to build brand, my recommendation would definitely be to consider this range of opportunities your customers already carry with them. What could these technologies potentially bring, targeted to your business and customer needs!?

Business Modelling, Emerging technologies, Innovation, Interaction Design, Marketing, Mobile, Social Media, Trends,
There is right now an enormous buzz around the concept of Internet of Things, Internet of Everything, or M2M that some less human centric like to call it. No matter what it′s called, businesses of all kind should have a plan for how to keep up, or they will stay behind. This, as connected things already are all around.

The concept of IoT stems from the now aging dream of a ubiquitous society that we had already 10-15 years ago where all devices around would be connected and talking to one another. In this vision the car would drive itself to the petrol station when so needed, the umbrella would remind its owner to bring it if the forecast so indicated, the refrigerator would order new milk when so needed, and so forth. This is not where we are today, and many are those who therefore seem to think that we still are waiting for this concept of IoT to arrive. This, while it already here! It is already a reality we are living. It just doesn’t look like what we dreamt of when dreaming of a ubiquitous society. Instead it is here in the form of actuators, sensors, small and grand networks, Internet in some, and in some not, but Internet somewhere. And all this, in a mesh with people! People that do things, share things, brag about things, show off, lie, exaggerate, share their joy, and sometimes also build their own technology, connections and data streams.

But why did the dream of a ubiquitous society then not happen in the way that we predicted!? One obvious reason is the smart phone, a personal, connected device that most of us at all times these days carry with us. A device by which we can connect to things that also are connected. No longer do we need to struggle with Bluetooth, RFID and other short-range technologies in the way we thought when first planning for the ubicomp vision. Also the fridge and other things do no longer need to be equipped with a screen or an interface of its own, as we with the smart phone, in a way, carry this interface with us.

But also, and more importantly, the old dream of a ubiquitous society was not a dream we in the end wanted. And furthermore, we are as people not as rational as we were thought to be in the early ubicomp vision. We do not always want things in the same way as we previously have wanted them. And even if a system was to buy the milk for us the way we most days want it to be done, the day we want it differently we will be sickly annoyed with that system. Some of us might remember the paper clip in the office system. That clip was in fact most times perfectly correct in what it suggested for us, still we hated it! We hated it for the few times it got things wrong, and we thought it was stupid even if it was in fact pretty smart.

We have since the ubicomp vision started to live technology in whole new ways, not all of us, but many. Technology is also for some of us heading away from being just a tool we use to get to information. Some of us are these days building our own technology by the means of Arduino boards, raspberry pies, little hardware and software toolkits and more, for us technology is also a material for design, like many other more traditional materials we work with.

This all creates a messy landscape of technology, data, services and people. A landscape somewhat scary in how no one really seem to be on top of the overall picture and the life style this all might create for us:

“The combination of technology in the home, city, car, on your body, in your mobile, social media and everywhere, all thriving on various data streams allows for such an amazing plethora of interactions. But what happens when all of that is seamlessly integrated with a middle-class lifestyle? What kind of life will that be?”, Kristina Höök, Professor in Interaction Design at KTH.

But at the same time, it is a triggering landscape from the opportunities it allows for in terms of design, new technology and services. Services that might help us live more sustainable, healthy, easy, and not the least, fun and interesting lives.

It is right now, as always, the question of doing the right thing. But right now most important for businesses of all kind is to do anything at all. At ayond we see though that taking the right human centric decision in this evolving time can be the most competitive decision most businesses ever have taken. Simplicity, innovation, trust and transparency will for sure be competitive factors in the years to come.

Business Modelling, Emerging technologies, Innovation, Interaction Design, Mobile, Trends,
Some may think this is crazy, but we think it′s a fun step to combine social media with physical stores.

When visitors to the company’s Facebook page click on the like button for a particular item of clothing, it will be displayed in real time on the garment hanger in the store. In this way, the store employees quickly find out which designs are popular. Doubtful customers get confirmation if it is a “yes” or “no purchase” buy for others who looked at the garment. Likewise, in future, you may be able to post comments about a particular article of clothing.

See also the film that describes the fashion retailer C & A in Brazil working with Fashion Likes

 

E-commerce, Emerging technologies, Innovation, Interaction Design, Marketing, Mobile, Social Media, Trends,
Web Visions is a three day conference in New York that has been held yearly since 2001.

UX people, designers and developers gather to hear about how the future of the web could be like. As their website states “WebVisions explores the future of design, content creation, user experience and business strategy in an event that inspires learning, collaboration and entrepreneurism”.

I will write some posts the coming days about what is happening on the conference. The first day was mostly about responsive design. Jason Cranford Teague gave his best tips on how to plan and execute a good responsive website.

First of all why design for different screens?

Mobile internet users are increasing drastically and with that a multi-screen solution is no longer a luxury but necessity. 15-20% are surfing with mobiles today and the trend is upward while desktop is declining. Some countries including India are primarily surfing on mobile not desktop. At ayond we are seeing some clients that have 50% of their traffic coming from mobile devices. Look how your site looks on different devices at the Responsinator.

Important takeaways for us and our clients

A retrofit (rebuilding a not responsive site) takes longer than if you build the responsive from the beginning. This could be problematic if using agile methodology. If responsive design is a low priority demand, you should still consider whether it should be in the final scope or not since you save time if the developers can prepare for it from the beginning.

Communication between interaction designers, designers and coders are essential since it is no longer about pixel perfect design since elements are floating depending on screen size. This require a knowledge for the designer/interaction designer of what is possible and not possible to do with the code. And possibly a new set of design tools that are more prototype oriented, for example Proty, Adobe Reflow, UX Pin.

If you do this right:

  • Sites are faster to develop – Minimal extra development to support several platforms
  • Code is cheaper to maintain and modify.
  • Pages generally load and work faster.
  • Designs are more versatile with Responsive Design. (Which makes them as future compatible as possible).
  • SEO strategy is easier to maintain since all traffic is coming to the same site.

After having been listening to Jason I still believe that 90% of all sites are best of with responsive design instead of using a separate mobile app (web or native). However, you should never forget to consider where and how the user will be working – the context. If you do, choosing the right mobile strategy is not so hard after all.

Gamification, Innovation, Interaction Design, Mobile, Trends,
This spring ayond sponsored a high school student Erik Levin to go on a one week visit to China as part of his final year project. This is Erik’s report:

“After an eight hour flight we landed in a surprisingly cold Beijing. Cold and tired we decided to have a look at the classic tourist attractions as our schedule for coming days was tightly packed. With some quick peeks at people’s mobile phones in town I soon came to see that Apple hadn’t been able to get a grip on the market here in the same way they have done in Western Europe and the US.

We then visited Sony’s factory and talked with them about their view on the future of applications. They saw the application’s future as something very positive, the possibilities with applications are endless and the only thing stopping us is where our imagination stops. Not only can we see this in the wide selection on the market but also in with functions integrated like Google’s voice command and Apple’s AI Siri. As they see it the development of applications is growing align with the usage of them, especially applications for social media and instant messaging.

 

china2

The next day we all went to visit Yew Chung International School of Beijing were I got the chance to speak with the students about common applications they used in their everyday life. Just as they said at Sony the students were using more and more application for social media, instant messaging and even for making calls. These applications were important for them as they made it much easier for them to stay in contact with friends at different schools in other countries.

The fact that they used mostly other brands on their mobile phones in China was something I found rather puzzling. As one might understand smartphones are common in China just like the rest of the world, but unlike other countries they have their own brands such as Huawei. The question I then asked myself is way hasn’t terminals such as Huawei spread more internationally, is it because China has closed of the market for them or is it just a time question.

I found the usage of applications very similar in China compared to how it is in Sweden. This is rather logical as students are often looking for the same uses be it computers or a mobile phone.

The application market is something I find very fascinating, and I know I’m not alone in this. With the help of applications we will star synchronising all our digital media and not too far in the future we will all be have our storage in the clouds.”

 

 

Marketing, Mobile,
Geo-location services and navigational aid have been a major success among consumers and device manufacturers alike.

There is just one catch: GPS does not work indoors. And even if we want to convince ourselves that we never/rarely need any navigational assistance when under a roof, in the following situations it would surely be of value:

  • Trying to find that x-ray ward in the huge hospital building.
  • Catching breath while trying to find the way to platform 12 to catch that Berlin-bound train leaving in 3 minutes.
  • In the supermarket, department store or shopping mall, trying to find the shelf with my favorite brand of product. (Or minimizing the time I have to spend in the shopping mall by analyzing my shopping list and then give me the shortest distance route in order to pick up all my goods)
  • Guided audio tours in (art) museums, automatically offering info about the exhibit in front of me
  • Finding the right entrance and exits in the subway (being able to combine outdoor and underground route guidance)
  • Reporting a faulty printer in a obscure room in the major office building could not be easier: bring out your indoor enabled smart phone, take a picture and send it to the attendance: the location of the printer is automatically embedded in the error report.
  • Airport navigation
  • Finding the right exhibitor in large exhibition/fair halls
  • Finding your seat in that huge football/hockey arena
  • Navigational support for indoor environment with the help of speaking smart-phones would also surely be welcomed by the visually impaired.

In conclusion: the value for end consumers is there and thus also the commercial potential. Offering indoor navigation for the visitors of a building, however, has been an expensive adventure: radio hardware has to be installed (and maintained), in addition to providing visitors with handsets. Recently, however, a number of platforms have emerged exploiting existing infrastructure of GSM/3G and wifi-routers that can pinpoint smart phones in an indoor environment (e.g. Qubulus, Ericsson, Google maps Indoor, and Skyhook wireless). Since smart-phones are now/soon in the hands of the common man, and are equipped with compass, large-screens and sound playing capabilities, property owners now have the opportunity to offer indoor positioning services with a reasonable price tag.

As application developers line up for work, it will be interesting to see how the gap between the raw position data and the specific user experience on the application level will be filled. As these services become more popular, will they adopt the navigation interface style and methods used by map-based navigational tools for outdoors environments? Or will indoor pedestrians in shopping malls, hospitals, airports, travel centers and fair halls, have different needs, requiring a new style of interface design?

Also, as the examples of indoor positioning applications IRL still are counted by the fingers of the hand, it will be interesting to see if the technology offers granularity and robustness required. How serious errors can consumers endure before they abandon the service (1m, 3m, 10m) ? And what happens to the position accuracy of an indoor environment when wifi-routers are moved, shut down of replaced by new hardware?

Surely these are exiting times in the new era of indoor positioning! To be in the know, make sure to check back with us soon, as we will keep reporting on those pilot projects in Sweden and elsewhere.

Further reading:

Innovation, Interaction Design, Mobile, Trends,
We will see much more of different embedded services e.g. in different types of widgets. These will perform specific functions - not just “banner like” links - but more advanced services, that can be included in web, mobile or social context.

Widget mania
With this technology you can out-source part of your web/mobile/social pages to other companies.
Case example: Kundo is a digital community for companies and their customers. Their platform helps customers utilize the commitment and knowledge of the customer’s customers for streamlining customer service and to gather important opinions and suggestions from users.

Wisdom of the crowd
If you haven’t started yet, now is the time to use and embrace customers’ and users’ view on you services. Open up your systems and do not fear criticism. Start using combinations of social media and IRL and use “gamifications” techniques to attract users to participate in sharing and commenting.
Case example: the Silicon Valley pizza restaurant where customer’s twitter comments on the food and the restaurant is shown on a big screen in the restaurant.

The new intranet
One question that needs to be answered during 2012 is; “What things does staff want on their mobile devices?” The “Intranet in your pocket” trend will be enhanced by an increasing number Windows mobile smart phones enabling the access to corporate/enterprise systems that today are Microsoft-based. New types of functions in Intranets will appear that will be based on knowledge management and sharing through chat and interactive use like Facebook “liking” and commenting.
Case example: companies that used a secret Facebook group as intranet to share both cooperate information/documents and enable chat/gossip between employees.

Cloud gets real, sack the IT-department
Technology choices get more and more uninteresting, cloud based services put focus on service deliverance rather than technology. Why keep an internal IT-department – perhaps you should instead employ a data scientist?
The over-sized, centralized IT department of 2001 is a relic that will never come back. IT departments need to prepare for the decentralized IT reality of the future in which companies are going to have smaller IT departments and focus their IT resources on software, the cloud and mobile devices.
Case example: Brian Hardee, CIO at Oxford Industries, reduced his already small IT department from 35 to 14 persons to be able to direct IT development in new directions.

Social Commerce
The e-commerce will move into social media. Recommendations from friends are considered to more than twice as reliable as anonymous recommendations. E-commerce is both about marketing and helping customers in finding and liking your products as well as about actual web-shops in Facebook.
The venture capitalists’ interest in companies within the eco-system for e-commerce and social commerce clearly shows that the money guys see big opportunities here.
Case: Lacoste’s very successful Christmas shop on Facebook

E-commerce, Emerging technologies, Innovation, Mobile, Social Media, Trends,
Together with our partner Savantic, ayond is entering the interesting field of Augmented Reality (AR) combined with image/video analysis in mobile apps.

Together with our partner Savantic, ayond is entering the interesting field of Augmented Reality (AR) combined with image/video analysis in mobile apps. Augmented Reality is a technology to enhance perception of reality by adding virtual information or objects. An example could be looking through your iPhone screen on a soccer game seeing the actual game at the same time as an application analyzes the number on the players shirts and connects various data about the player to be represented digitally on the screen.

Unlike Virtual Reality (VR) where everything is simulated, Augmented Reality only simulates parts. To cite AR researcher Alex Olwal from KTH “We already live in a high resolution version of the real world, why not use it”.

With image/video analysis we can identify elements in an image and connect them to a certain function. For example face recognition, where the different elements of the face, nose, ears, cheeks etc. is identified to further use this mapping to perhaps experiment how you would look like with a mustache or different color of your eyes.

What makes ayond different from most companies in the business is that we combine the highly technical skills needed to create high quality AR and image analysis algorithms with the expertise within app development and usability.

Some interesting examples using AR and/or image analysis:

Sekai camera
Sekai lets you upload information in many ways and tag it to a location making it visible to users of the Sekai app, as can be sen in the video snippet below.

Layar
AR layers on top of the reality through your mobile screen. Read more on http://www.layar.com/


Layar screenshot
Pop-up store
Airwalk used an augmented reality app to launch invisible pop-up stores which sold a limited edition of the Jim shoe in New York and L.A. To access the invisible store, customers had to use the app to locate virtual Jim shoes at dedicated locations and take a photo of the shoe to gain a pass code to the Airwark e-commerce site. Since the release of the app, Airwalk reported, the e-commerce site witnessed a traffic boost unprecedented in the entire history of the company.

Try on clothes
H&M created an app enabling shoppers in New York to virtually try on the clothes featured in its store windows. In this way , consumers gained a discount code and the possibility to share their looks with Facebook friends.

Streetmuseum
The Museum of London created a mobile app overlaying specific locations around London with historical photographs. The app guides the user to these locations with the use of map or GPS.

iButterly
Catch augmented butterflies.

 

 

Feel free to add your favorite AR/image analysis examples in a comment.

Augmented Reality, Innovation, Mobile,