Aldi charges £0.49 for their store finder iPhone app

January 7th, 2011

Just to reiterate: Aldi charges £0.49 for their store finder iPhone app. Wonder if they have researched pay TV to show Aldi TV ads?

Big brands have screwed up their retail channels

January 6th, 2011

Here is an experience which illustrates the future potential direction of physical retail and why big brands have borked channel integration & in-person CRM:

“I went shopping to see if there were any sales. I walked past JD Sports and saw the brightest pair of trainers I had seen for a while (oh yes) and thought I buy them. Full price – not in the sale. I went into the shop and then waited for 10 minutes before someone would attend me. I asked for the shoe in a 9. About another 10 minutes later they eventually arrived. They didn’t fit but it was clear that the next size up was going to be perfect. I asked for the next size up to be told that they didn’t have any in stock. K THX BAI.”

What should have happened? They process the transaction and have the next size up delivered. The shoe is available in that size on the website. I can even use a cash back service to get a 6% discount with free delivery. Is this hard? No – not at all but it indicates that physical retail is struggling to come to terms with it’s future.

The future of physical retail is about experience. It’s about shopping being a pleasure:

  • as I walk in store I treated well or even recognised and addressed
  • staff are friendly, knowledgeable, empathic and brand representatives
  • my loyalty (or lack of it) is recognised
  • my purchase history lets staff know where to direct me
  • I am asked of I want to take my purchases with me (instant gratification sated) or have my purchases delivered (because who really wants to continue shopping with bags of purchases not needed for days/weeks?)
  • I get a voucher for a local eatery as I leave

All of the above could be done today for a reasonably low tech investment. Being met with a blank stare when I ask for a different size is not an option.

Microsoft is killing windows phone 7 before it lived

December 16th, 2010

Microsoft is dangerously close to killing the WinPho7 despite a pretty good product. Here’s some subjective opinion and experiences that tell you why

1. No devices in stock

In central London I found 1 in 5 shops that actually had the product a month after release

2. No demo devices

1 in 20 of these shops would let me play with the product. The others would only let me play with the product only if I bought it i.e. only 1 in 20 had a demo handset. Every single one of these shops had a demo iPhone 4.

3. No promotion in store

The WinPho7 is hidden amongst the other devices. iPhone has a nice promo booth.

4. No staff promotion

Not one member of staff was positive about the product. This despite the fact most of them admitted to not having used it.

5. No staff product knowledge

The 1 demo version I played with was shown to me by someone who didn’t know how to use the product.

6. Uncompetitive pricing

The product is priced higher than Android devices with the same tech spec. Microsoft may feel it offers more but in reality this is hard to communicate but pricing talks loudly.

7. No additional incentives

No incentives are being offered to mitigate more powerful app stores. Why don’t Microsoft offer me some free song downloads and some free apps? If I move platforms I will have to repurchase some key apps – make that switch cheaper.

8. No developer love

Not one developer I know was given a device. Huge numbers were given Android devices.

Sorry Microsoft but this launch is not working.

Building mobile web sites: QA

December 10th, 2010

QA on mobile is a monumental headache. Think it was a pain to support IE6 and constantly have to make Microsoft-specific hacks in your CSS & HTML? Welcome to some real fragmentation.

I previously covered our methods and processes for device detection. Having done this we were left with very specific profiles and about 14,000 handsets which fitted these. Our first inclination was to test natively where we had the handsets and then emulate – this did not work.

My least favourite emulators are Blackberry (I couldn’t even get BREW to work in my environment although allegedly one of our developers achieved this feat). Blackberry emulators are massive. They suck up your CPU and manage to crash your machine on a regular basis but that’s not the worst bit. Installing all of the add ons, extensions, plug ins and other nefarious rubbish takes an age. Android was reasonably easy while Apple was very easy but you have to pay for the SDK and run it on a MAC box which is pricey if you are not that way inclined.

Once you have installed your emulator and have successfully pulled up your target test site you find your bugs, make your fixes and assume that life is good. Then you test it on a a real handset of the emulation and realise that you have just wasted a heap of time as the two do not resemble each other in any way.

So what do we do?

- We have at least two handset for each of our test profiles.

- We test in Chrome first. Chrome best matches Android mobile browser and iPhone’s native browser.

- We emulate sparingly – good use cases include device screen size queries in Android.

- Every opportunity we get we load our sites in other people’s handsets.

- We review historical activity and look for sessions with strange looking activity and try to spot handset patterns. This allowed us to spot a series of Android bugs.

- We update software versions on some phones but not all – running several versions of iOS and Android is safer.

- We try to design to minimise layout issues.