The core web team, including Web Manager Quang Luong and Web Developer Sebastian Salcedo deserve high praise for all the hard work and diligence that’s gone into making Procurement Leaders the Digital Product of the Year. Quang Luong kindly acknowledges Affino’s part in their success:
"Affino provides us with a set of tools and platform enabling us to deliver our award-winning website - recently winning the PPA Independent Publisher Digital Product of the Year 2013"
Most leading magazine publishers have long realised the benefits of delivering their magazines digitally via the Internet or Apps. Many still persist with PDF style / Digitised formats which simply render their hard-copy magazines in digital editions which can be paged through online, but essentially retain the exact same linear structure of the offline equivalent.
The more clever magazine publishers have gone with an enhanced-benefits online-subscription model and have adapted their magazine fully to an interactive website format. I have often cited medical magazine publishers and the unique environment that has evolved for its consumers. For many medical magazines, the key content contributors are also the main members / subscribers - who provide research papers and ’abstracts’ which populate the ’magazine’ and essentially drive the publishing business. The medical magazine business is therefore somewhat self-perpetuating and inwardly driven by its own membership.
YouTube is another classic example of a self-perpetuating, community-driven enterprise. Once again. it is the membership that drives and delivers the content via video submissions / uploads. YouTube incentivises these content contributors by giving them a share of the advertising revenue directly derived from other members watching those contributors’ uploaded videos. In short, most of the traffic on YouTube is for viral videos uploaded by their own membership - this includes relatively recent big hitters Ylvis’s ’The Fox’ and Psy’s ’Gangnam Style’.
There’s lots of examples from online communities which turn into semi-webzines by harnessing their members’ output - football sites like ExtraFootie and Proven Quality. Professional publishers can take more of a leaf out of YouTube’s playbook - in terms of engineering a high quality interface - which works cross-channel and incentivises its membership to contribute towards the sucess of the enterprise.
When I talk about the enhanced benefits of a fully interactive website format, I mean a living magazine with integral comments and contribution channels - which encourage debate and further involvement. All the traditional magazine elements - features, reviews, interviews, advertorials, competitions etc. can be run through the website
The last big step change in publishing was the accelerated transition to digital formats - eBooks, PDFs and the like. In a similar way, the music industry moved from CDs and Vinyl to be largely dominated by digital formats like MP3 and FLAC.
We’ve already heard from academic publishers that Professors and student bodies no longer wish to buy the whole text book, but only the 2-3 most relevant chapters. In publishing we are therefore moving metaphorically from album to single sales - or increasing book granularity.
There are other obvious parallels to be considered though, as Spotify has further shaken up the music industry by giving access to an enormous library on a subscription basis. No doubt Amazon is figuring out how to deliver its own ’Spotify for books’ service via Kindle. It’s a frightening fact in the UK that the average number of books bought per capita is currently less than ’1’ - so any means to drive up book sales should be welcomed.
This then opens up the next evolution and its obvious parallel with music playlists. You can imagine academics being able to set the curriculum by ascribing key chapters (singles) to a specified reading list.
I remember when I was at university, and the constant internal debate about whether to buy the book or borrow from the library or even just browse and absorb in the library on an adhoc basis. Once an academic publisher launches their ’Studify’ portal, it will be as if all students’ dreams have finally come true. They will be attending classes with their tablet of choice / kindle in hand, and can instantly gain access to all the necessary study materials - neatly categorised into Curricula or Reading Lists, and paid for on an affordable monthly subscription.
Don’t think that this won’t impact on consumer book sales either. How many of us have read one or two chapters of a book before realising that said book holds no interest for us - and cursing a failed investment.
Magazine publishers have already taken advantage of the online subscription route, and book publishers need to be aware of the opportunities in that area. With a subscription model we can also see the reintroduction of the old fashioned weekly serial - where you release a chapter at a time, or deliver engaging topical stories like
Many people don’t realise quite how many ways you can have to derive revenues through your online presence. In this article we focus on generating revenues from and through a website and its associated online activities. There are other ancillary monetizing streams like App creation and merchandising, but these typically require additional resources and expertise so they are omitted on this occasion.
We always encourage our solution customers to consider their own consumers’ onsite journeys. Obviously you have several different types of consumer: Suspect > Prospect > Customer > Regular > Advocate - and each will use the website in their own different variety of ways. Early stage consumers are more interested in prospecting, research and validation, whilst latter stage consumers require their own voice and a dialogue / input with the site owners and other site members.
It’s fascinating to see how Amazon, Apple and Google have evolved their offerings and ramped up their customer bases. If we take Amazon as an example - with its gradual evolution from hard copy to digital formats (eBooks, Music & Video) and the creation of devices (Kindle) to consume those services. Apple and Google have always been digital players so their evolution was much more straight-lined. Although each has come from the opposite side of the spectrum - Apple moving from digital devices (computers initially) into digital services, whilst Google evolved the other way round - from services into devices. All three companies though are highly proficient at monetizing different touchpoints and activity centres.
All website owners should be tuned into a similar mindset - if you are a solid products player, you need to evolve digital offerings as the marketplace is becoming more and more ’mobile-oriented’. As a digital services provider - which category all websites fall into now, you cannot get away from focusing on the mobile devices with which consumers will increasingly consume your products and services.
Most people think of monetizing in terms of either straightforward ecommerce or advertising sponsorship. There are however many more ways to accrue revenues if you have the correct type of website platform. Here are some of the key examples:
Charge for site / area access / membership - e.g. access to
How quickly you can react to market forces is usually the dividing line between success and failure. Every opportunity is fleeting, and rarely are you the only one competing for said opportunity. In marketing, first mover advantage is often the key to seizing the deal. How much you can do in-house at but a moment’s notice is therefore crucial for your success rate.
If you have read ’Maxmising Revenue #1’ - you will know that Gill & Macmillan attribute the ability to create new targeted sites on new domains at will, as a significant cornerstone of their recent success. For BIBA Medical, the ability to take charge and make swift changes has been key to their online growth, as Web Manager David Reekie notes: "The best thing about running BIBA Medical on Affino is that I have total hands-on control over every aspect of our business on the Internet".
When you read the two recently published Case Studies (BIBA Medical and Irish Books Direct), you will see the importance the Web Managers place on being able to do everything themselves. In a forthcoming case study from Human Kinetics, they talk about the significant challenges their web development team faced when running their sites prior to Affino. Every single change, new promotion or campaign had to go through the development team - the support burden was getting to a point of unsustainability. Post Affino transition, Human Kinetics now have category editors empowered through workflows, and marketing personnel who can trigger their own campaigns without needing to bother development. Development can now focus on innovating and delivering a better service with Affino.
’Empowerment’ has always been one of Affino’s core values - the ability of small teams of individuals to take control over vast Affino portals. Affino’s Empowerment is best explained by the 10 following benefits:
Use Affino’s ’Design Centre’ to build, change and evolve page / site look-and-feel at will
Deploy radical changes to site structure using ’Structure Copy’ and ’Restructure’
Use Application Bar and Live Edit to edit Structure, Content and Design on the screen and instantaneously
Use Topic Lists and Granular Keyword assignment for smart Site Taxonomies and Organic SEO
Christmas is a scary time of year for many shoppers as they have to buy gifts for the extended family - some members of which they don’t know particularly well. Even though it’s customary to ask recipients what they would like to receive, there is still usually a plethora of vague messages which leave a heavy burden on the shopper.
There are two ways to help out such shoppers, and usually two quite different types of shoppers actually. The first way is to set up manual recommendations - in terms of simple Bestsellers Lists or Recommended Gifts within fixed themes. I know some of my family members who shop this way - i.e. what’s the most popular within a category. It’s also the lazy way out for both retailers and shoppers alike, and often a surefire way to give someone something they may have already. For Retailers though it is a quick and easy fix, as you can usually create recommended product selections by simply assigning existing products and multi-displaying them into new seasonal categories.
The second route is one in which John Lewis in particular has always excelled at - which is in making recommendations to shoppers based on specified input criteria. If you view the Toys sections of their site for instance, you get to filter by Age, Brand, Character, Type, Boys’ Toys and Girls’ Toys. This is never more important than at Christmas when so many shoppers are venturing out into unknown territory. Most shoppers do care also about what they are giving and would like to be in a position to make the best choices.
The way John Lewis and our own Affino Social Commerce Solution achieve these kinds of recommendations is via careful Topics Assignment, such that every product available on site is assigned defining Topics - gender, age, occasion, theme etc. This allows shoppers to filter products / gifts on precise criteria. Moreover the topics can be used to create ’Topic Landing Pages’ where all products in the same category can be grouped and displayed together for increased impact.
Smaller retailers can compete with the likes of John Lewis by applying their Topics criteria more finely, and more creatively - by using personal knowledge to highlight specific categories of products which are not specified in such a way on other retail sites. If there is a big Christmas movie for
This post was prompted by an email we received last week stating - "How much do you lose to cart abandonment?" - from a certain something company offering a very specific solution for spotting, analysing and dealing with abandoned shopping carts. This highlights two very different approaches to eCommerce sites in general - most of the sites out there are what we would determine fragmented ’bolt-ons’ - i.e. a core eCommerce / checkout system with lots of 3rd party integrations - difficult to set-up, manage or evolve. The Affino Social Commerce Solution is a much more holistic approach, as all the essential tools and utilities are included and built into the very core of the system.
Most people don’t realise quite how much is available on-tap in Affino, so here follow some of the less obvious included elements - which very much sit within the areas of Sales and Marketing Automation and Social Utilities, all of these of course help with maximising revenues, improving customer retention and generating repeat sales:
Abandoned Cart Notifications
This is simply one of the many triggers within Affino’s Messaging solution - others include: Purchase, Login, Birthday and Conversion Event - all despatched fully automatically to incentivise customers
Part of Affino’s Customer Ladder solution, there are currently 42 trigger types with subsets, including: Cancelled Purchase, Friend Bought from Invite, Item added to Basket, Item added to Wishlist and of course Purchase - these can auto-despatch a variety of messages, or trigger coupons, discounts, store credits or other rewards
You can assign any Conversion Event to a Lead Generation Profile, which logs resultant leads and sends notifications to the appointed Leads Manager/s
Another essential Conversion Event utility, where any conversion even can trigger a content subscription - such that customers get notification whenever a new product is added to a specified category
Based on topics assignment and registered user preferences / likes, Affino recommends content, media, products, contacts and events - so customers get more of what they like - and so do you
Active Shopping Basket Management
Track and manage active Shopping Baskets - help customers through
An interesting piece on Econsultancy indicates the key reasons for Shopping Basket abandonment, which Experian estimates is costing UK retailers £1bn+ each year. In an online survey conducted by Econsultancy and TolunaQuick, 44% of customers indicated that they had abandoned a purchase, and cited high delivery charges as the key reason.
Results and key questions as follows:
After adding items to your basket, what would make you abandon your purchase?
77% - High delivery charges
55% - Technical problems
49% - Prices too high
26% - Needing to register before buying
Once you are in the checkout process, what would deter you from completing the purchase?
71% - Hidden charges
58% - Concerns about payment security
44% - Technical problems or slow loading pages
37% - The process takes too long
33% - Lack of contact details
26% - Difficulty filling in forms
23% - Security features such as Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode
How to combat the key causes of Shopping Basket Abandonment
No surprises! Be upfront and transparent about all charges
Always try to give at least 2 delivery options, e.g. cheaper normal post and more expensive express courier
Always try to give at least 2 payment options, e.g. PayPal and Credit Cards
Have an SSL Certificate on Checkout, Registration and Login - most shoppers will be reassured by HTTPS designation in browser
Belong to a relevant retail association - e.g.ABTA or Internet Shopping is Safe
Sign up to Trustpilot for unbiased customer reviews
Use a Single Page Checkout - everything simply laid out on a single screen means faster and easier checkout
Allow shoppers to buy with PayPal - without needing to register or logon
Ensure business address is clearly visible - shoppers are far happier doing business with someone they can place geographically
Have a named customer service representative with picture and contact details on site - shoppers are even happier doing business with someone they can put a face to
Our Social Commerce Solution Affino has been engineered to tackle all the key points indicated above - Contact our Business Development Director Marcus Svensson on email@example.com for further insights on Affino’s revenue generating abilities.
We were somewhat surprised to find that the majority of eCommerce platforms cannot easily be set up or extended for Multi-domain Delivery. By this I mean the ability to target different market segments - whether geographic or other specialisation, by adjusting settings on the same site licence.
The Affino Social Commerce Solution offers just such an ability out-of-the-box; we call it a ’Zone’. You can set up numerous Zones on your Affino site licence - all with different URLs or domain subsets and all with unique design and content. Affino further has built-in tools like ’Structure Copy’, ’Restructure’ and ’Design Smart Copy’ to make it easier for you to adapt existing content, structure and look-and-feel - to create new targeted derivations.
In this way you can create the absolute optimal experience for each of your key target audiences, without any need for compromise. All retailers agree that you get the best results when you are able to provide each customer segment with their own optimised, dedicated retail environment.
When Gill & Macmillan first deployed Affino, they used their site licence for a single site - their eLearning platfrom eTest.ie. The various Gill and Macmillan sites were spread across several different systems, which meant no resource / content sharing and a much larger management overhead for the admin team. The last few years have seen Gill & Macmillan implement a program whereby all the key sites now run on the same Affino licence; these include:
"At Gill & Macmillan, we have many different parts to our business, so it is essential for us to be able to run multiple stores effectively. Affino allows us to easily set up new stores which we can segregate and tailor exactly to our customers’ needs"
Stuart Bannon, Webmaster, Gill & Macmillan
Affino Multi-domain delivery can best be defined by the 5 following benefits:
When Affino was first launched back in 2000, the central focus was always for the site owners to have full hands-on control over their online retail environments. Affino has always been developed with a view to being a holistic Social Commerce Platform - combining Online Retail with core CMS, Community and Deep Analysis.
Here are some of the essential facets of the Affino Social Commerce Solution which give Affino users more control:
Structure - Set up, copy and adapt multiple nested or fully independent content / product hierarchies. By utilising separate ’Zones’ you can build a Multi-Channel and Multi-Brand Platform with ease
Design Centre - Affino’s Design Centre is still as revolutionary today as it was when first introduced in 2002 - DIY Design Implementation via currently 86 Design Element Widgets, Design Styles, Menus, Frames, Design Objects and Skins, with advanced CSS customisation options available for those who have the skills
Personalisation - Using a combination of Affino’s Granular Security and Assignable Topics with configurable Design Elements, you can set up highly targetted shop fronts with distinct customer journeys
Application Bar / Control Centre - Total control over everything you see onscreen - Affino has extensive settings profiles to give admin users enormous scope for making instant changes
Live Edit / Design Edit - Edit Content, Text Labels and Design Element Settings on the live Display Screen
Sell Almost Anything - Affino has extensive selling abilities, mixing up standard Product Catalogues with Digital Media, Events, Saleable Articles and Memberships - via Granular Security assignment you can pretty much put a price on any of your site activities
Social CRM + Customer Ladder - Have complete oversight over every activity your site users engage in, track them, incentivise and reward them
Instant Analysis - Affino has several bulit-in dedicated Social Commerce analytics tools as well as the wholly configurable Customer Ladder Conversion Events Analysis, and Configurable Analysis Dashboard with 19 dedicated Commerce widgets
Shopping Basket Management - Track and assist customers with their purchases
Core vs Integrated - Affino contains everything you need to run several high level, socially-enhanced stores in a single solution, but it also integrates with 3rd party solutions including
Since it’s origin as an American online bookseller in 1994, Amazon has gone on to conquer the world. In most regions where it is active, it is the pre-eminent Internet Retailer, and now covers near enough every conceivable area of shopping, albeit not equally in every territory.
I’ve been an Amazon Prime Member for some time now, and alongside the Ocado Smart Pass, consider this an everyday essential service! I love the ease at looking something up, and fire and forget ordering with next-day noon delivery in almost all cases - even Sunday to Monday ordering on occasion.
There are many reasons how and why Amazon still maintains its lead:
Range - The Range of goods on Amazon is without equal
Price - In most cases (certainly not all though) Amazon has one of the lowest price points available - particularly for Books / Music / Video / Games
Stock - Amazon typically has a larger stock, so it’s less likely to sell out of the item/s you want
Delivery - Plenty of delivery options including same and next day delivery, even with the option of secure lockers and 3rd party location pick-up points
Reliability - You have to be a little careful with Amazon Marketplace, but with a bit of reading between the lines you can usually spot the right moves, pretty much everything I order gets delivered the next day or two
Returns - Amazon uses the Yodel service to pick up packages from customers’ doorsteps - I have used it several times and it works brilliantly
Reviews - Even though there is a slight proliferatin of semi-dodgy reviews, by-and-large you get a good indication of suitablity of product from customer reviews
Recommendations - Every area you browse on the site you get sent recommendations via email, not always wholly relevant, but very cool and frequently useful nonetheless
ListMania - Top 10 / 20 lists of customer favourites help you spot new products that are likely to appeal
Wishlists - The ability to file away preferred products for later purchase, great as a reminder for future releases
Amazon is usually my preferred retailer on the basis of a combination of range, cost and service, there are certain areas though that would benefit from improvements.
Areas Amazon could Improve Service:
Packaging - A lot of the packaging is not particularly re-useable for returning goods in - why do Amazon
In Britain, the ’Internet Shopping Capital of the World’ (q.v.), sales for September 2013 rose 13% from August, like-for-like comparison with September 2012 saw a rise of 20% between years (IMRG / Capgemini).
Clothing, especially lingerie and undergarments, saw strong increases on the success of sites like ASOS.com.
Mobile devices, including smartphones from Apple and Samsung saw a rise of 150% compared with 2012 - which directly impacts on shopping via mobile devices also.
Experts say that online sales have been boosted in particular by rapid delivery options, such as same-day delivery offered by companies like Amazon, ASOS, Dixons and Next. The September 2013 figures see the fastest increase per month since the e-Retail Sales Index was set up 13 years ago.
Over 10% of all UK Retail Sales are now online, with the ratio predicted to rise to 20%+ by 2020.
21% of UK families shop online for food and groceries compared to under 10% for the rest of the world. EU research shows that 82% of British Internet users regularly shop online, which is the highest figure within the 28 member states:
..1: UK 82% =2: Denmark 79% =2: Sweden 79% ..4: Germany 77% ..5: Luxembourg 73% ..6: Finland 72%
-------------------------- =26: Italy 29% =26: Estonia 29% ..28: Romania 11%
UK leads the EU for online purchases of clothing and food, Sweden is top for travel, and Luxembourg is top for books (perhaps something to do with Amazon European HQ?)
UK Shoppers are more active than US as online food and grocery retail has not taken off to the same extent in America.
Like for like comparisons with September 2012 in the UK see clothing up 18%, lingerie 30%, accessories 20% and footwear 20%.
Current trends seem to indicate a likely strong Christmas season for online retailers - time to get all your ducks in a row then ...
We’re very pleased to welcome Marcus Svensson to the Comrz team. He comes to us with over 14 years of experience with a wide range of eCommerce and CRM technologies across all delivery models.
He brings a strong background in business development and is an experienced entrepreneur in his own right. He’s lived and worked in Europe, the Middle East and the US, and is a polyglot.
We like him a great deal and feel that he’s going to be a key addition to the team. His role will be focused on establishing Comrz as the go-to provider for Social Commerce solutions. This means leading our business development initiatives and helping Comrz to build a great rapport with the wider Social Commerce market.
Their rivals for the business brand awards this year read like the who’s who of UK business publishing and include: Haymarket, Reed Business, Bauer, Centaur and Emap.
We’re especially thrilled as we know just how much Sigaria are pushing forward digital publishing with the Procurement Leaders site, which has evolved more over the past 24 months than most sites evolve over a decade.
It’s been a pleasure working with Sigaria from the outset, and it was great to hear from Quang Luong, Sigaria’s Web Manager:
"Huge thanks to Markus and the team at Comrz for their ongoing innovation, support and great platform that distinguishes it above all others to support our business needs." - Quang Luong
We look forward to the great developments lined up for Procurement leaders over the coming months and hope to assist Sigaria’s phenomenal growth rate over the coming years.
I have had two run-ins with BT this year, both so unsavoury that I thought it best to share the experience to encourage BT to sort itself out for once and for all.
The first episode started in March of this year.
After Talk Talk discontinued their Broadband TV service, I decided to switch back to BT. There had been a problem with line quality throughout that contract - with Talk Talk blaming BT for service failures and vice versa (typically issues with connectivity, speed and packet loss). A complete move to BT would have seemed to have been the answer - as there would be a single party responsible for the service.
On March 6th I phoned up and ordered Unlimited Broadband plus Unlimited TV from BT - I had to obtain a MAC Code (service transfer code) from Talk Talk and put in and order to have a digital aerial installed. BT guaranteed a switchover / activation date of March 26th (circa 3 weeks later).
Two days before this date, the BT aerial install engineer sent an SMS to confirm that he would be there on the morning of the 26th. On the actual day of the 26th, I became concerned when no engineer had turned up in the AM, so I phoned BT to find out what had happened to my order. "Your order has been cancelled" they said - "because of an unspecified internal systems error" - "we need to put you through to ’Order Management’". ’Order Management’ happens to be based in India, and I was informed there that Order Management were indeed cancelling my order and that I needed to phone up BT Sales to place my order again.
I spent half the day on the phone - talking to nearly a dozen individuals, before finally being passed through to a Monica Price - who took ownership and guaranteed that I would have an install on the 4th of April now. I had to explain my whole story to every single of the nearly dozen individuals I spoke to, as there were no notes on the system. And since my order had been cancelled, BT had no way of knowing what I had ordered initially - so I was read through the terms etc. several times again, and was made to repeat my specifics ad nauseam.
Two days before the install was due, I was again contacted by an aerial engineer who told me he would be there on the morning of the switchower. The 4th rolled up, as did a quite superb aerial engineer who got HD Digital TV working
You’ll notice on Comrz.com some subtle changes to how it looks and works. This is the result of it running the Alpha version of the upcoming Responsive Design Affino release. All the key component updates are now all in place, and we have split the Classic Design components fully from the new responsive ones.
Responsive Skins are now possible in Affino, but it is early days and much remains to be done before the public release. As often happens when we work through a major project, we will be using the opportunity to completely restructure the way we work on display-side code. We’re moving to an object oriented approach which is far more robust, secure and faster.
It really does mean through that we will be reviewing and rewriting every single line of display-side code in Affino which is a vast project. It means all the underlying layout and styling attributes, Design Elements, applications and templates need reworking. As will core management tools including the Live Editor and the App Bar.
It means that the new Responsive Design capabilities will be released in phases, prioritised around the new sites and projects that are being rolled out. It also means that if you have many Affino customisations then there’s a 100% likelihood that they will need updating for your responsive designs.
Here’s a heads up on where we are, and the key milestones for Responsive Designs:
New Object Orientated Display Architecture
The core architecture of the new object oriented responsive Skins is now in place. There are still key elements being ironed out and dozens (possibly hundreds) of new functions which need to be created. We have working responsive designs working though, so mostly this is just a great deal of detail work.
Key to the new page design rendering is that we will be able to roll out much more intelligence on how we build up and cache page designs. In particular we will be loading much more of the core design styles into the application memory, or simply pre-render the CSS. In fact the whole page rendering process should be significantly speeded up and be more scalable as a result.
Did we mention that the display code will be optimised, I’m pretty sure we have. The good news is that for the elements we have already worked on, it’s clear
I had the misfortune today of stepping inside the new HMV Flagship Store at 363 Oxford Street.
As a long-term loyal and fairly high-spending customer of HMV since my mid-teens, I have long loved the incumbent 150 Oxford Street Flagship. I have watched the introduction of various new departments, and experienced the store evolving and changing to fit its ever-shifting retail environments. Some changes have been better than others, but the beautifully laid-out 3 floor store has always been an enjoyable shopping destination for me. Even after Hilco took over, some beneficial changes were made to the shop-floor displays and layout - even though product stocks never recovered.
The only chance HMV has versus stores like Amazon and Apple iTunes or even Spotify and Netflix, is to retain customers like myself, who still number among the few to buy physical products. For me to want to shop in HMV, the environment and experience needs to be a pleasant one.
Alas, the new 363 Oxford Street store is a total abomination - a little like the British Navy having a pedalo for its flagship. So what is wrong with the store?
Let me count the ways!:
Entrance is narrow and cramped with confusing and cluttered displays - far from welcoming
Building interior feels like barely a 1/4 of the size of its predecessor and is very cramped
Ceilings are very low and induce claustrophobia
The actual product displays / merchandising units are cheap quality, confusingly labelled, and difficult to navigate
Décor looks cheap and tatty - use of white floor tiles to make low ceiling height less obvious just makes the whole thing look cheap
New signage would not look out of place in a pound shop
Store layout is totally disorienting
I found it nigh on impossible to locate different genres of films and the latest releases for each
Seemed like too many members of staff - there were one or two pretty much blocking every aisle, and a gaggle of them blocking the main entrance
If 150 Oxford Street rates a ’10’, HMV in Selfridges would be a 5, and the new one rates a 3 on the same scale of overall attractiveness and retail experience
It is as if the designers of the store have forgotten anything and everything that Apple taught us about store design when their Regent Street flagship opened back in 2004 - this was the new wave of how
We have had the Affino Feature Request forum since we launched the Affino forums. Over that time hundreds of requests have been made for new features and two out of three features requested are now in Affino. Today the Feature Request forum takes a big step forward and will make it much easier for you to have a say in Affino’s future direction.
It is now possible to vote up (or down) any request made, so vote for the functionality you want to see in Affino and encourage others to back yours. The more people who back your feature the more likely it will be rolled out and the sooner you will get to see it.
It’s the time of year where it’s good to review how far we’ve come with Affino’s development since we set out the 2013 Priorities. The big picture is that we’ve wrapped up one of the two biggest initiatives this year which was to re-architect Affino for super-scaling.
It took us half the year to get there, but we’re now seeing great up-time figures across the board for Affino’s SaaS services. There are still more refinements to do, but Affino has been transformed in it’s ability to be auto-scaled.
The next major performance update is coming with the advent of the new Responsive Skins in Affino. We are completely re-working how all public facing pages are being served, which means serving many more elements from memory for a faster response time. We’re also re-architecting Affino to make the pages fundamentally more stable, secure and to reduce the chance of bugs arising.
The Responsive Skins themselves will also be fundamentally faster across all devices with the new code compression, new toolkits, JS and CSS structure and fully CSS driven page designs and styling. All of this will be in place by the year-end.
The second major initiative is now well and truly underway, namely the new Responsive Design roll out. We have split off the old design centre to become the Classic Design Centre and are busy rolling out the new Responsive one. We’ve hit the first major milestone, namely the core framework for the new Object Designer. The new Object Designer will be much more solid than any of the previous versions, especially as we’re now working more directly with core CSS.
One example of the improvements coming is that we have built in full undo / redo in the Object Designer from the outset, both for layout and content. This is a great development and will make it much easier to experiment with designs in Affino in the future. It is just one example of how the new architecture is a big step forward.
A great win with the new Design Centre has been our ability to retain all the core concepts we have in the Affino Design Centre, updating some and introducing just one new element: the Breakpoint Profile which will allow you to evolve your Breakpoints over time. Everything else is an evolution of what&
In trying to toe the line of one EU Directive, Lloyds Bank has in fact breeched a number of fundamental consumer rights. I feel like I’ve been subjected to banking apartheid.
As stated in a previous blog post, I have been a customer of Lloyds Bank for 25 years, and at the time of writing am still supposedly a Lloyds TSB Platinum Account holder. I signed up to Lloyds when I joined Aston University in 1988 - I believe there were 4 branches on campus - Barclays, Lloyds, Midland and NatWest. I unequivocally chose to sign up with Lloyds, and have been a good and loyal customer since then. The Aston University Branch was merged with the Lloyds Priory Branch some years later, and is now set to become a TSB outlet. I have lived in London for the last 15 years, and have used my local Lloyds Branch on Edgware Road - I have had no physical connection or contact with the Priory branch for nearly two decades.
This June, I was sent a letter from my bank - from a certain Catherine Kehoe (Director, Brands and Marketing) to inform me that my account had been one of those singled out to join TSB (on account of the Priory Branch switch). There were some other communiques about being able to request to stay with Lloyds.
I of course rang up immediately - informing my bank that I vehemently opposed the transfer of my account to another independent bank, and would like to stay with my original contracted bank - Lloyds. A return letter received on June 13th (ref AK273) confirmed my intentions to stay with Lloyds - and had some text including the header ’Staying with Lloyds TSB’. Over the last few months I have had a number of conversations with Lloyds personnel, who assured me that my request was being processed, and I would receive confirmation by the end of August. In the intervening weeks, I received several unsolicited calls from TSB - trying to sell me loans and other financial services. I informed said representatives that my intentions were to stay with Lloyds and they should surely have that recorded on their system somewhere.
In all my conversations with Lloyds personnel - never was it indicated that I could / would have no choice in any of these proceedings, that in fact my account would be moved automatically regardless of my personal choice or vehement opposition. Something I view as a unilateral unauthorised