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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

16 Apr 2014 12:06 PM
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Since last year, we’ve seen very few record stores disappear, as vinyl sales are now tolerably healthy. I myself am buying less vinyl than before, but do still regularly pop into Phonica and Sister Ray, and less frequently into BM, Sounds of the Universe, Reckless Records and Music and Video Exchange - all indicated in the below Map. I highly recommend the two Rough Trade stores also.

 

For Record Store Day (typically 3rd Saturday in April), I always make it a point to support my stores if I’m in town.

 


Soho Stores:

  • Phonica - 51 Poland Street, W1F 7LZ
  • BM Soho (Black Market) - 25 D’Arblay Street, W1F 8EJ
  • Sister Ray - 34 Berwick Street, W1F 8RP
  • Reckless Records - 30 Berwick Street, W1F 8RH
  • Sounds of the Universe - 7 Broadwick Street, W1F 0DA
  • Music & Video Exhange - 95 Berwick Street, W11 3HL

London Others:

  • Rough Trade - 130 Talbot Road, W11 1JA
  • Rough Trade East - 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL

Full list of Record Store Participants [here].

 

Phonica is open from 09:00 on Saturday, and last year there were considerable queues early on, and even more so at Sister Ray. Phonica’s RSD Releases are [here]. And this is [All Record Store Day 2014 Releases].

 

I’ve not yet decided if I want to queue up early, or if I’m better off turning up around lunch time when the queues dissipate.

 

There’s the usual couple of hundreds of exclusives, many of them on coloured or patterned vinyl - I really only buy 10" and 12" formats - and the following are the ones I have my eye on, though I’m not fully decided yet:

  • Disclosure - Apollo (12")
  • Grace Jones - Me! I Disconnect From You (12")
  • Inner Life / Salsoul Orchestra - John Morales M&M Mixes (12")
  • Joey Negro vs Horse Meat Disco - Candidate for Love (12")
  • Katy B - Little Red Remixes (2LP)
  • Little Dragon - Klapp Klapp (12")
  • Pet Shop Boys - Fluorescent (12")
  • Ray Parker Junior - Ghost Busters (10")
  • Razor-N-Tape - Record Store Edits (10")
  • Music Finland / Line of Best Fit - Record Store Day Special (10")
... 2014 Record Store Day on Saturday - support your local store
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

14 Apr 2014 10:20 AM
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This is the 4th time I catch Coachella live courtesy of YouTube, and each time Google has made tiny increments which keep improving the experience. The interface is pretty much perfect now, with a clearer Live Schedule panel and Fan Photo Feed higher up the page - I still sort of prefer having the social updates to the right of the main panel as per the debut version, but overall, the current one has good balance - and I love how the page background changes contemporaneously with the evolving colour of the sky. On the subject of social updates - this year was totally dominated by Tweets - probably 90% of shout-outs were via Twitter, with the remaining 10% being mostly Facebook and a Google+ entry once in a while.

 

Sound and Video streaming quality (HD 1080p) have been excellent throughout and I love the way it’s one continuous redline stream - so that you can dip back into the timeline if you missed something. YouTube is also doing the excellent ’Rebroadcasts’ between programmes also - so you don’t need to stay up to catch the highlights. Versus the BBC, YouTube does not provide quite the width of commentary, nor the individual artist video showreels or highlights - the same criticism I have levelled for previous years. The beauty of having this streamed via YouTube though is that lots of helpful social-minded people record and segment the broadcast - so you can find full Coachella sets by your favourite artists on YouTube away from the official versions.

 

In terms of solid, high quality music coverage, the YouTube Coachella service is currently peerless - with a little more direct artist programme access, I would not mind paying for such a service. I always envisaged that someone like Live Nation would start offering this kind of service, or even start co-ordinating with the cinema chains. The cinemas already play host to Theatre, Opera, Ballet, Exhibitions, Key Concerts and Sporting Events - why not have festival sessions too. With high-quality sound and video on a big screen, and readily available beverages and refreshments - with civilised sanitation on hand - these are perfect social venues for people who don’t want to get too dirty!

 

Highlight of the opening night was suprisingly Girl Talk (Gregg Gillis), who brought out Busta Rhymes, E-40 and Juicy J for cameos during his set. The expected

... YouTube continues to set benchmark for live music streaming with latest Coachella coverage
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

09 Apr 2014 11:36 AM
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Anyone who has visited Iceland knows that the main attraction is its beautiful raw and unfettered natural wonders. We took our colleagues a couple of years ago and visited all the key sites along the south coast of Iceland - as far east as Jökulsárlón - you can see that report [here]. Iceland is very much in vogue at the moment with several major recent Hollywood blockbusters - Prometheus, Oblivion, Thor 2, Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Noah and Game of Thrones all filmed on location in various parts of this nature wonderland (see below).

 

This year however there has been a significant change in the Icelandic tourism landscape, as the landowners at 3 key sites have started to charge for access. 2 of the sites are part of the ’Golden Circle’ tour near the capital - dormant volcanic crater Kerið and the spouting hot springs of Geysir, the third is Dettifoss waterfall in the north-east. Enshrined within Iceland’s constitution is the unassailable right of the Icelandic People to freely wander across every part of its landscape. Moreover, the main Geysir area is in fact a national park, albeit that it sits within a landowner’s larger territory. The feeling is that what’s happening at Geysir for sure is not entirely ’legal’.

 

There have been all manner of debates since the ticketing operations appeared - landowners are claiming that increased tourism has meant more money needs to be spent in maintaining the environment - at Kerið and Dettifoss there are no facilities really to speak of, certainly nothing approaching sanitation, and the latter is accessed via a very coarse gravel road which is impassable at certain times of the year. In fact the vast majority of natural beauty spots in Iceland have little more than a guide-rope and the most rudimentary of pathways. Some of the more popular ones have proper facilities - a cafeteria of some sort, giftshop and proper toilet facilities - most though have next to nothing.

 

It’s kind of ironic that the most inhospitable environment is charging the most - Dettifoss at 800Kr (roughly £4), Kerið is 350Kr (£1.75) and Geysir is 600Kr (£3). If every landowner in Iceland decides to get in on this action, it will soon become ridiculous. The government of Iceland is instead recommending a Nature Pass scheme,

... Iceland's Nature Pass Dilemma
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

07 Apr 2014 10:29 AM
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On March 21, the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) brought together a panel of leading-edge technology providers to discuss the challenges, opportunities and trends - chiefly on the subject of how best to monetize digital content. The Digital Leaders Network will be convened periodically to confer on the best way forward for the publishing industry.

 

After helping Procurement Leaders win 3 PPA awards last year, including ’PPA Independent Publisher Digital Product of the Year’- Markus had plenty to share with the panel on how we at Affino help publishing companies achieve their online potential.

 

Which digital platform you choose to run your online business on, and how flexible and capable that platform is, is obviously a key concern for future success.

 

Publishing is still in the throes of a major step-change in the move to digital technologies, and most publishing companies’ futures are at stake - the right choice of approach and platform to the forthcoming challenges will decide which companies thrive, and which wither and fade away...

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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

02 Apr 2014 9:22 PM
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Tim Waterstone, who founded the bookshop chain of the same name in 1982, argues that traditional books will see off the eBook revolution, and in fact that eBooks are already on their way into decline. About the only thing I do agree with Tim on is that traditional books will endure.

 

In literary nation Iceland, it is still fashionable to give and receive books at Christmas, and for the most part that industry is still reasonably healthy - pending of course publishing sensations and the availability / arrival of popular works. Relatively recent years have seen publishing sensations - Harry Potter, The Davinci Code and of course Fifty Shades of Grey. It is the latecomer of these though which is most indicative of future trends, as Amazon’s figures indicate that it sold 6 times as many Kindle eBook versions as traditional book formats - but this did vary across different sales territories. A big part of the 50 Shades revolution is that several readers were much more at ease purchasing a saucy book relatively anonymously as an eBook than face-to-face in-store. Since Fifty Shades, book sales have generally been down overall, as nothing new has come anywhere close to achieving those 100 million sales. Harry Potter still has the overall record for book sales with 450+ million sold for the series.

 

There are all kinds of recent indicators in book retail as to how the industry is doing overall, and what the future trends are. I still recall the downfall of the Borders chain, which was one of my favourite book sellers in London - walking down Oxford Street and book-central - Charing Cross Road, you can see what’s happened to the publishing industry, much like you can see by the number of record stores currently on Oxford Street - what’s happened to the music retail industry. Both indicate a significant decline in traditional forms of retail, as the number of retail outlets has dwindled visibly. My old hometown of Barnstaple at one time had 4 bookshops, now it’s down to a WHSmiths and a Waterstones - many town centres have only the former remaining; others have seen the growth of outlet / discount book-stores.

 

I am still a fan of both formats - traditional and eBook, and use each for different purposes. My younger brother though has almost entirely ditched physical books as he does not have the physical space for them.

... Why Waterstones founder is wrong about eBooks
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

26 Mar 2014 11:23 AM
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Ah well - ’Awesome’, ’Amazing’, ’Fantastic’, ’Magnificent’, ’Life-Changing’ etc. all these words are somewhat overused these days, very much a victim of their own sensationalist success. It seems that everyone these days is writing ’Tabloid-style’ headlines - in an attempt to attract more traffic to their site/s. It’s not surprising really, considering that for Mashable and Buzzfeed, this is pretty much their entire reason for being. You can’t avoid it truly - open up any Social Media app - and the top 10 highlights will most likely be from the school of Clickbaiting.

 

From my own experience, some of my own more popular articles over the years have followed some of the parameters of clickbaiting, however unintentionally. Most consumers these days are strapped for time, and possibly have issues on concentrating on any task for more than a couple of minutess. The essence of Clickbaiting thus is a snappy headline - followed by bitesize-style content. Often peppered with pictures, and never more text per item / picture than you might see in the most involved of graphic novel text panels.

 

I’ve tried to distil down to the 10 most common types of clickbaiting articles:

 


List (Top 10 of almost anything)

 

We love lists - ’10 Best Cities to live in’, ’All Time Top 10 Grossing Movies’ etc. - it’s a straight line-in for debate on certain topics, or can consists of absolute hard facts for others (statistically speaking). If you are in retail, charts are one of key motivators - everyone wants to know what the bestsellers are. And being at the top of the charts stimulates sell-on like nothing else - a number one hit single will sell a significant follow-on portion just because it’s number one!

 


Guide / Instructions (How to be a millionaire in 7 days / 7 steps)

 

Simple stepped guides are the essence of clear instructions - Lego and IKEA do it in one way, but there are several different types of instructional guides from very strict process-oriented ones to more chatty suggestive ones. Consumers love having things simplified for them, and if you can break it down into a few simple steps, so much the better.

 


Hyperbole (The best most amazing ever X)

 

It’s always amused me when I

... 10 amazing ways Clickbaiting can ramp up your site traffic
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

24 Mar 2014 11:02 PM
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A number of recent architectural programs on the BBC (e.g ’The Brits who Built the Modern World’) have cited the influence and inspiration Lego has had on many of our leading architects. However, some of those same architects criticised the move in emphasis from free-form bricks to planned boxed sets. As a child - we had a large wooden Lego box of primary-coloured chunky pieces - nowhere near the range or flexibility of the current 250+ shapes in 40+ colours (near enough 1600 different elements now - obviously not all shapes in all colours). In my youth therefore, Lego was as boxy as a 70’s Volvo, and most buildings we created looked like some kind of square warehouse or storage / industrial facility.

 

Our British architect friends are forgetting that you can still buy the old-fashioned free-form building sets - as well as any combination of bricks / pieces from the ’Pick a Brick’ facility of the Lego Shop; adults can even purchase the Lego Architecture Studio - all in white - to plan and conceive the most pristine of modern buildings.

 

I contend though that it is in building the various boxed set buildings, that you learn the most about the structural integrity of buildings. And only once you have completed a few instructed builds, are you in a position to truly build successfully on a free-form scale. I love building the larger Lego sets mostly because of the insights into the ingenious design process of the set’s designers. Lego is a great example of an applied art, where planned structures and objects need to be streamlined and honed - so that they can be built from the existing 254 shaped elements.

 

When I build a Lego set, I experience a tiny part of the creative development process into how a certain section came to be devised to overcome the limitations of Lego, as well as make the most of its inherent attributes. When you build complex sets you learn about a number of different key considerations which can be applied equally to real-world building engineering.

 


Here are my top 12:

 


Lamination

 

Often when constructing a modular Lego element, you can feel that the structure is quite fragile really until you finally apply the top layer of ’fixing-bricks’ usually in the form of thin slivers (Lego plates + tiles) - these lock the components together and make

... 12 Useful Building Engineering Lessons from Lego
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

18 Mar 2014 12:27 AM
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For hundreds of years everything was individual and bespoke, and made-to-order. Then came mass-manufacturing and off-the-peg retail (prêt-à-porter) - which allowed more consumers to buy reasonable quality products, and moreover take their wares home with them on the same day. For the wealthiest echelons of society, made-to-order is still used regularly to deliver unique and individual products, but the majority of consumers want lower cost products which are available sooner.

 

Customisation as such is nothing new really, made-to-order customers had their initials embroidered onto their garments to denote quality and exclusivity when manufactured shirts first arrived, but then the mass-manufacturers started to offer the same monogramming service - one of the earliest examples of mass-market customisation - meaning that tailors had to increasingly rely on more visible luxury trims and finishes to give them an edge.

 

Where we are today really is that customers increasingly want to be able to stamp their individuality onto a particular product, but they don’t wish to pay over the odds for the privilege, nor do they wish to wait overly long to receive their goods. There’s quite a number of generic customisation services - like for instance mobile phone case specialists - who allow you to bling up and create your own unique phone case.

 


Here follows a brief list of some of the better examples of companies offering customised products:

 

NIKEiD - Create your own version of the Free / Flyknit trainer

 

Build a Bear Workshop - Choose your base model cuddly toy; e.g. dog, then select colour / characteristcs and outfits

 

MakieLab - Design your own doll

 

Brick Brigade - Customised Lego kits and minifigs

 

Evisu - Customised Jeans

 

Swarovski Crystallized (now defunct) - Make your own jewellery from Swarovski crystal elements

 

Prada & Fendi - Both these brands pioneered handbag ornaments (artsy characters / motifs) attached by keyring / key chain - sometimes the ornaments cost as much as the original bag!

 


Swarovski Crystallized was a great idea, but has proven to be too much choice for the consumer - that is to say that consumers are far more comfortable with making smaller design changes, than actually specifying or making something too much from scratch. I

... Customisation is the future of Retail!
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

13 Mar 2014 9:23 AM
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I am very fortunate to live in London from a retail standpoint - there are some really great examples of Destination Stores which continue to push the envelope of creativity and possibility. I’m going to reference 4 different examples - three current, and one recently defunct; with the purpose of showing what Online Retailers could be doing to bring more engagement and excitement into online retail.

 


Selfridges Oxford Street

 

Selfridges almost floundered in the late 80’s, but has largely consistently built on the crowd-pleasing exhibitions and stunts pioneered by founder Harry Selfridge - with fine examples such as cross-channel hero’s Louis Blériot’s monoplane exhibited in-store in 1909. I have attended many a wonderful themed event in the last 15 years - Japanese Days, Brazilian Days with a carnival atmosphere and even the most recent ’Festival of Imagination’ with its ’Imaginarium’ auditorium. All these events have a singular universal theme in common - which is supported by stylised window displays and matching interior decorations - as well as the majority of departments carrying through the theme to their merchandising displays. Selfridges knows it has plenty of competition - Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Liberty, House of Fraser, Bond Street and of course the Internet. They continue to find innovative ways to inspire and motivate their customers to come to the store - enjoy the atmosphere of the latest event, and be more pliable to making purchases. No one does the integrated event experience better than Selfridges - and they keep innovating to maintain the interest of their customers - online retailers could learn much from them, but more of that later.

 


Westfield White City

 

Compared to Selfridges, Westfield is a slightly different proposition - not so thematically or theatrically integrated and innovative, yet undoubtedly a prime destination for shopping. Westfield benefits from a number of smart dynamics - of course we have the myriad of facilities - restaurants, restrooms, seating areas and leisure amenities including multiplex cinema and health club. We also have a kind of street-market-like feel with numerous small stalls / booths on every aisle - selling all manner of trinkets, snacks, ice creams, milkshakes etc. The small stalls which pepper the mall make a big

... Destination Stores have yet to be fully realised online
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

06 Mar 2014 11:19 PM
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First we need to define ’Social Retail’ and detail how it is different to what most companies consider Social Commerce to be. In its simplest form, Social Retail derives from an Integrated Community Space - with proper Facebook-like User Profiles and multiple channels of communication and participation for consumers. Most Social Commerce which you see on the web today is in the form of rather superficial social plugins, most typically - Social Media Sharing and Comments and Ratings.

 

Social Retail creates a vibrant community hub with relevant incentives - to encourage consumers to own and promote their own space within that brand’s larger retail community. The retailers get much better records and understanding of their consumers’ increased activities - as well as more word-of-mouth recommendations, and the consumers in turn get a much more rewarding experience from the retailer. Social Retail is a connected experience - bridging the onlne store with the local stores and local communities.


Here follows what we believe to be the key components of Social Retail.

 


The Bridge

 

On an Ecommerce website, the emphasis has to be on adding to basket and checkout - you cannot disrupt or distract from that process, or the retailer is likely to suffer diminished returns / conversion rates. Thus the best way to connect with the consumer is from the Sales Confirmation Screen. They have just made a purchase, and the screen presents them with sharing options - ’I just bought Red Coat from B-Boutique’ etc. much like Amazon does. On the same screen you would see links / buttons to Community Registration - with a list of incentives. A key part of Social Retail is rewarding consumers for their various online activities - so you present a brief case for how consumers accumulate reward points / store credits from their purchases and online social activities.

 


Registration

 

A Social Registration needs a few more details than the regular Ecommerce Registration, which is why it is important that the incentives listed on the Sales Confirmation Screen are repeated on the Registration Screen. It works well to have a rolling ticker of ’Recently registered members’ too for added motivation - try and keep it simple though. Successful Communties need Profile Pics and user Nicknames, so these features

... Why all High Street Retailers need a Social Retail Solution
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