Preparing your business for Christmas shoppers

christmas shoppers

Festive shoppers provide many retailers with a much-needed financial boost. During this busy period, companies can see sales soar. However, if you want to make sure your business capitalises on the Christmas shopping frenzy, some savvy planning is required. These top tips should help you to achieve your goal.

 

Improve your in-store experience with free WiFi

One key area to consider is WiFi. Only a few years ago, the notion of providing mobile web access to shoppers was alien to many retailers. However, shrewd companies are increasingly switching onto the benefits of offering their customers free internet. After all, many people now consider their smartphones and tablets to be essential shopping companions. According to a recent report entitled ‘The Wireless Nation’, a quarter of consumers would leave shops if wireless connectivity wasn’t available. Luckily, it’s now straightforward to provide your customers with free WiFi. Public WiFi specialists such as Airangel offer competitively priced solutions.

As well as improving your customers’ in-store experiences, these WiFi solutions can help you to gain valuable insights into consumers’ shopping habits and preferences. By choosing the right package, you can access detailed user data and analytics. In turn, this can help you to tailor your offerings to your target market more effectively.

 christmas laptop readyGet your website ready for the festive season

Given the rising importance of ecommerce, it’s imperative that your website is up-to-scratch too. An increasing number of people are opting to do their shopping online and you may miss out if your site doesn’t meet shoppers’ high expectations.

Think about creating festive landing pages and generating seasonal blog posts. Also, if you’re expecting many more people to visit your website in the run-up to Christmas, get in touch with your hosting company to ensure that your site will be able to handle the rise in activity. The last thing you want is for your website to crash during the busiest time of year.

 Stock up

 Now’s the time to start building up your stock levels too. If all goes to plan over the festive period, your sales will rise and so you must ensure you have enough stock to meet this spike in demand. Think carefully about what is likely to sell well over Christmas. Consider previous years and also pay attention to market trends. There will always be some guesswork involved in deciding how much stock to buy in, but by being measured and tactical in your approach, you can reduce the likelihood of major errors.

 Get creative with your promotions

 Promotions will prove crucial too. You’ll need to prepare in advance for the post-Christmas sales and you might want to begin your promotions early. By offering special deals in the run-up to December 25th, you may be able to steal a march on your competitors. For example, you could give out coupons for the January sales with each purchase or offer buy-one-get-one-free deals on certain items.

If you do run promotions like these, be sure to advertise them online and in your store.

Spend some time on your shop display

 It’s also worth spending some time creating the perfect shop displays. This can entice more consumers through your doors and increase the amount of time people spend in your store. If you’re not the artistic type, pay a specialist to come in and arrange your decorations for you.

As well as crafting appealing displays, think about the positioning of your stock. Make sure your bestsellers are situated in prominent places. Meanwhile, place cheaper items that consumers may buy on impulse near to your paypoint.

By following tips like these in the run-up to Christmas, you stand to make the most of this busy shopping season.

 

 

Spotify Needs A New Design

Spotify is by far my favourite music streaming application, mainly due to the fact that it is so easy to sync through my devices. It has it’s share of mistakes such as the heavy Facebook integration, however it still remains the best web music service in my eyes. Earlier this year, Spotify for iPad was finally released, shortly followed by the new Android update. Both of the applications had a beautiful user interface which begs the question….Why are we still using the boring old Spotify desktop application?

Here’s the new Spotify app for Android and iPad. Both of the applications are in keeping with device’s design template. The dark shaded background we are use to seeing in some of Apple’s products has been heavily used on the iPad, while the Android version is based around the Ice Cream Sandwich Holo theme.

And here’s the Spotify desktop application. It hasn’t received a significant UI update in some time. The design is cluttered and unappealing and would have looked at home on a very old operating system. Spotify have began to look towards the future for their mobile devices and need to do the same for the desktop client.

A quick search around the internet has given me an assortment of opinions from all types of people, but the main feeling seems to be that people are desperate for a Spotify desktop client which uses the same minimality and simplicity to use as the iPad and Android counterpart. Nobody likes a UI which has hundreds of buttons and links to click on in one screen, it may have been cool a few years ago but now it’s all about simplicity. It’s for this reason that Microsoft have changed their entire operating system ideas to reflect a simple design which simply uses tiles to navigate.

Of course, I’m talking about Windows 8. It’s an operating system which I have been using an early build of since September 2011. While I have mixed opinions on having an entire operating system built around minimalism, I love the simple applications available for Windows 8. A user DeviantArt even created a concept log-in screen for his Spotify for Windows 8 concept.

~LuunArt created this little concept a while back. It’s just an idea. A teaser as to what could happen if Spotify decides to opt-in on the upcoming Metro experience.

Below is another concept idea, this time found on the Behance Network. This user feels that while Spotify needs to change it’s design, it also needs to change it’s features. As of writing this, Spotify is lacking a small desktop widget, one that can be compacted from the large desktop view and can be easily opened on top of a video or web page.

Again, this designer has decided that a minimal UI is the best choice for a music player.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of Spotify’s green house-style. It looks absolutely great on white and textured backgrounds but it looks boring on the design of the desktop application which is currently used. One Behance Network user obviously feels that Spotify needs an overhaul rather than a minor change, and has changed the entire client right down to the icon.

This isn’t the best idea in my opinion. The green house-style can now be easily recognised as Spotify and changing it to blue now would be silly. I’m not crazy about changing the UI to be heavily Apple based, but the rest of the design looks like a very solid and easy to use experience.

To conclude, I want to make it clear once again that I am a big fan of Spotify and everything it offers. I love the applications on both Android and iOS and think that they are easily contenders for my most used apps. Having a poor UI isn’t a deal-breaker for me, it’s just an annoyance. But I fail to see how a company with a design team capable of created amazing applications and a marketing team who can create simple but attractive adverts like this, can be happy allowing their valuable customers to use a very outdated client.

The New BlackBerry 10 OS

Since the BlackBerry keynote yesterday (May 2nd) revealing the BlackBerry 10 OS I have been scouring the internet trying to learn all I can about what is to come. I love BlackBerry’s and have been a fan ever since the Pearl rolled out in 2008. Although there were some things I was saddened to learn, BlackBerry has held my fandom with some amazing new features.

Of course, this is all the OS, so when it all comes out on actual phones some things will be different from model to model.

There are a few unfortunate things for my fellow BlackBerry fans. Current phones will not be able to update to the new OS, and they’re going to make us wait until August for a phone with the new OS to even be revealed. It seems as though it will be worth the wait.

The New Keyboard

Unfortunately, BlackBerry is following the trend to have an on-screen keyboard. Fortunately, it seems to be the best of the lot. The keyboard is as large as can be managed on the screen. There are all sorts of swipe features that have been added. For instance, you can swipe to the left in order to delete. You can swipe down to switch to the numbers and symbols page. The prediction text has the words appear over the letter that the words begin with and you can simply swipe up to float the words up into the text. I love the idea of swiping to make everything go more quickly.

The Camera

The camera seems as though it will be wonderful. It has automatic face detection, and you take a picture by touching anywhere. My favorite part is the “miss the moment” feature. If someone blinks or sneezes or moves when you take the photo, you don’t need to retake the photo. You simply select their face and scroll back in time (several seconds are available) to a moment when they look better and it auto ‘shops the face from that moment into the photo. This is a feature I am really looking forward to.

Crysis 3

Here on Geeks Have Landed, I have tried to keep away from the gaming articles. They often lack the style and presentation abilities that I look to go for on the site. However, I have decided that instead of being tempted to do gaming news etc, I will occasionally post articles highlighting the game, kind of  like a showcase. After I mention the game once, I doubt it will be mentioned here again, unless I decide to do video game reviews later down the line.

This is the first (of hopefully many) showcase articles I intend to write, this one focusing on the recently revealed Crysis 3.

 

By now, most of us are aware of how the game was revealed. Heck, 2-3 weeks ago we had just about no idea that there would be a third instalment, especially as it’s predecessor was released just over a year ago. Crysis 3 made it’s first appearance the the public in the form of a banner on Origin, EA’s own gaming network. An odd place for a title to be leaked, but this remains the case and shortly after, EA confirmed the upcoming title.

So what can we expect from the game? Well, CROSSBOW! That’s what the hype seems to be around right now. In the last two games, you character was bound to boring old guns and melee, with the occasional  joy of throwing a car or massive baked goods at the enemy. But in the third instalment, the protagonist’s main weapon would appear to be a crossbow, and a beastly one at that.

Early gameplay footage of the game shows that guns will be similar to the ones in Crysis 3, loud and with advanced scopes and attachments to make it feel like you really are in the near future.

The 'Nanodome' encasing New York City

Another feature which remains from the previous title is the setting – New York City, with one major difference being that it’s now covered in a jungle environment. The first Crysis was in a jungle, the second in New York, now Crytek have combined the two to make one super awesome looking jungle/city environment. Why has the city been transformed you say? Well the official story (on EA’s website) reveals that the city has been encased in a giant dome (do’h), and within it is 7 distinct environments.

Crytek have been pretty open about what to expect out of Crysis 3, something which is quite surprising this early on in the reveal. They have even listed the basic plot, read below;

There was a time that you had compatriots. You had team mates who you trusted with your life. It wasn’t so long ago that you were fighting for your country and the human race. Now you fight for the fallen. Now you get your revenge.

In the wake of the alien invasion, New York lies covered by a giant nanodome, hidden from the rest of the world A secretive military faction has set up shop in the ruins of the city. What do they want? Who are they? What have they found? Uncover their true motives and bring them down from the inside out. But as bad as they might be, they might be the least of your worries. The extraterrestrial threat still looms large over New York. The last time humanity tangled with this enemy they caught us with our guard down, but this time we’re ready. Stalk the canyons of the abandoned, ruined city in relentless pursuit of your prey.

This time we hunt them.

The graphics are certainly something that is going to be the main talking point in Crysis 3. Although they haven’t changed much since the previous Crysis, it’s still a game which other games are struggling to beat graphically, at least on console. By now you are probably beginning to realise that I have mentioned that there is a lot of things similar to the previous Crysis. This is because, after viewing the gameplay trailer, it looks like not a lot has changed. The gameplay seems the same, the graphics seem hardly improved, and it’s more of a follow up story than a brand new game. That said, this excites me. I loved the Crysis 2 campaign, and was disappointed when I completed it. To think that Crytek have expanded the story with the same amazing gameplay is something which I greatly look forward to playing.

Crysis 3 is due for release in Spring 2013, and we can expect to see a lot more gameplay footage until then. I won’t be doing any more articles on this particular game, but I will be giving my thoughts on new trailers on our Twitter page.

 

Google Announce Project Glass, My Thoughts – UPDATED

Earlier this week, Google announced Project Glass, which aims to bring a new form of augmented reality and build it right into your glasses, staying with you throughout the day. It’s had a lot of media attention and hype surrounding it since a video was released on YouTube showing Google’s plans, which is great. But I’d like to share my thoughts.

So Google+ exists in the future? Google obviously thinks so.

I’m all for the progress of technology. I have a friend (he knows who he is) who believes that technology can’t progress any further, that we’ve hit the most advanced point in technology and that things are so smart, there is no way it can get any better. To this, I show him the original iPhone announcement in 2007, where the audience let out a small cheer at the sight of Steve Jobs scrolling through music, something we think of as a standard feature in modern phones. That was a mere 5 years ago, and phones have increased in design and features a HUGE amount.

I bring this up because, while I am a firm believer that technology is increasing in quality almost every day, the ‘Project Glass’ proposed by Google might just be taking things a little too far. I’d hate to be the one to ruin the party, but it seems that people are getting extremely hyped up for something which, according to how technology is currently progressing, would take at least 10 years to become believable.

So much for discreet

Google know what they are doing, which is why I find it quite surprising that they decided to release this video. They haven’t mentioned any year, decade or century they envision this launching, but based on the icons used and the locations seen in the video, it appears they might want this to come sooner than later. For a while, I was under the impression that this was a rather late April Fools joke, one that’s slightly less funny than the numerous pranks they pulled this year.

To me, it seems like an almost exact replica project to what we saw back in 2009 from Nokia. The video below was released by the Research Labs there, and since the upload we have heard next to nothing. The difference behind the two videos being that Nokia listed the project as a ‘vision’, whereas Google claim they are working on it.

Now let me share my thoughts on what I think about the product, if it was to release to the general public. Well, firstly it would be amazing. Even the idea of Project Glass just oozes sci-fi style technology, and to have that in our everyday lives, would be pretty amazing.

That being said, we have to look at how it would affect our lives. Just because it gets released doesn’t mean it will become an essential part of our lives like the video depicts. In fact a few hours of searching forums around the internet gives me the impression that most people are uneasy about having the interactivity with them for so long during the day. I’m not so sure on why people think this way. The general view is that they are horrified by Google watching them as they live their lives. If that was how the product would work, it would struggle to be launched, or at least would be met with its fair share of criticism upon its release. So I’m not too bothered about the impact this would have, after all, I don’t think Google will be able to do much with the information that I do nothing everyday :).

Now how often would it be used? Google, as shown in the video, think it will be used just about all the time. I can’t really comment on this until we know when it will be released. One of the key points of the product is that you can share just about everything you do with people in your circles on Google+. Now staying away from the idea of Google+ not being a huge social network just yet, the product could be released in a time when social networks have come and gone, and been replaced by something completely different. At the moment, the idea of social networks dying out is an extremely difficult idea to swallow, but there is always something around the corner which will either change the way social networks work, or will end them completely.

So in my eyes, the glasses won’t be used for sharing to social networks. And this could be a good thing. Maybe the iPhone auto-corrects of the future will be that you accidentally uploaded your day for all of your friends to see. It’s just an idea, but with the small information about the glasses we have, anything like this is possible. Don’t forget that it also can be a very big privacy threat, as it seems like you could take a photo of just about anything or anybody and save it, without that person knowing. It’s slightly less obvious than taking out a camera.

I’m in no doubt that using the glasses to find the location of your friends, send and receive texts and video call people is a very exciting idea. But surely this makes it more of a gimmick? In sci-fi films, items similar to the glasses are used all the time. But in reality they would only be able to do what a mobile already does, only in a smaller and slightly more nerdy looking form.

To me, it seems like an almost exact replica project to what we saw back in 2009 from Nokia. The video below was released by the Research Labs there, and since the upload we have heard next to nothing. The difference behind the two videos being that Nokia listed the project as a ‘vision’, whereas Google claim they are working on it.

I do hope this product is released, and I hope it is sooner rather than later. However being realistic, I can’t see this happening in the next 10-15 years.

What do you think? Please let me know in the comments below.