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Month: June 2006

Internet Retailer editorial

Internet Retailer is now uncloaked and is gradually taking on its own life. It’s remarkably exciting seeing the subscriber numbers notch up and the press releases and leads start arriving at the ever-open editor’s inbox.

Selectivity is an issue since many of the releases I’m getting are just “something to do with the internet or technology” and don’t really address the specific concerns of ‘internet retailers’ or etailers. There are already some excellent forums and publications which focus on individual specialisms (eg retail technology, or fashion, or catalogue retail, or online security…). Internet Retailer though is focusing on the intersection of these skills and interests.

I’ve also published the first editorial – I’ve reproduced it in full after the jump – but it’s interesting to see from a catchup of my RSS subscriptions that there are very different interpretations of Google’s new Checkout and its impact on etail. My view is that it’ll be welcomed by consumers (who don’t trust retailers for the most part) and it’ll pose a challenge to the survival of weak retail brands as Google become the shop front for the digital consumer. It’s worth having a look at the comment on Techcrunch to see a totally different view.

In the meantime let me know what you think of Internet Retailer, good or bad. Oh, and don’t forget to mail me with any tips, leads and suggestions.

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Scoopt Words: we blog, they sell

Scoopt Words – sell your blog content to the media…

Interesting development here by the Scoopt folk. Best known as an aggregator of ‘citizen journalism’ (ie you send them your MMS ‘scoops’ and they’ll sell them). They now offer a service which links bloggers’ content with editors’ desire for content.

This is less “pop will eat itself” than “media will feed itself”. Ideal for journalist wishes to fill space, balance debates and troll for ideas, and also for the quirky, excellent, knowledgeable and hip to get an even wider circulation for their wordage.

This marks another turn of the wheel in the age-old (dis)intermediation debate: no sooner is mainstream media exploded into the atoms of user-generated content sources than a ‘new aggregator’ arises – whether a rating system (eg Technorati) or a marketplace/exchange.

Nowadays, we may all be authors and digital media producers, but every author needs both a publisher and an audience. Even in the land of ‘content/publishing/web/other 2.0’.

Jog4John: Sponsor my run!


As you’ll all know I hate:

  • running
  • sponsored events.

However, I have been brought out of “retirement” and ‘de-grumped’ to do a sponsored 5-mile run in – erk – a fortnight. That’s exactly less than no time to reverse the ravages of Tubby Time and run for the first time since 1997.

The run is to raise money for John (our “back door neighbour”) who was diagnosed with leukaemia four years ago, just before the birth of his daughter, Dolly. He has been fighting the condition since then with a rigorous health regime, all while being a deputy head at a school in Tower Hamlets (hardly opting for the easy life there!). Our girls sit on the back wall and pester Barney (their boy) and distract Dolly from her bath/supper/whatever, and Vicky climbs over the wall for coffees and chats with Carolyn. Having them as neighbours is a major part of the enjoyment we derive from living in our ‘hood.

John’s treatment is massively expensive and a family friend of theirs, Lorraine, came up with the idea to hold a sponsored run to raise money to help with the medical bills. I’ve copied the bulk of her note after the jump and it puts the position well. 

Running is a no-brainer and sponsoring me is of course also a necessity!

You can donate/sponsor by paypal. Click the link and give more than 50p (to cover the costs etc). There’s clearly no maximum. In return I’ll post some photos of me in my running kit (eek – may not be appropriate to view in the workplace or with young children) as well as a list of donors.

Don’t delay, make payment today – the run’s on 15 July.

International readers may like to know that 5miles is approximately 8km, or the equivalent of a full marathon distance (when I tell the tale in the bar later 😉 ). 

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BumpTop: 3D desktop prototype

I’ve always said that the perfect GUI is a screen the size of a large desk upon which you can make piles of paper! Seems I’m not alone in this and the people at Bumptop have a (more scientific, UI) approach that’s very well demonstrated in the attached movie. Well worth a look for GUI fans, looking for the next paradigm beyond folders and hierarchical taxonomies. [via Lifehacker]

Internet Retailer magazine, online and conference: launch

I’m pleased to be able to announce my small involvement in an interesting new venture to support the development of eCommerce and ‘internet retailing’.

eCommerce is so interesting because it’s the point where marketing and engineering collide – with some vigour –  and the challenge to businesses old and new is to align the many traditional skills (marketing, commercial, IT, logistics, buying, contact centres, fulfilment, outsourcing, procurement…) and capabilities in a way that’s relevant to the new, demanding internet customer. While there are many resources for the eCommerce professional they tend to fall into two camps: the online marketing folk (with great resources at e-consultancy, for example, NMA, Revolution, etc) or IT (where software capabilities and services still drive much of the eCommerce agenda). 

Mark Pigou, founder of RetailEvents (a trade, conference/exhibition company, specialising in retail, but also branching into other areas – eg Blogging4business) has recognised the opportunity to bring the many professionals together and has created a conference called Internet Retailer. Building from this Mark is also planning to launch a tightly-integrated print magazine and an online service.

Having met Mark and talked through the ideas, I’ve agreed that I’ll be the ‘launch editor’ of the online service, writing a combination of news, analysis, interviews and features at I’ll be working on this until the conference in September and subject to growth we’ll probably bring on dedicated editorial resource from there. We’ll see, but for the meantime I’m really excited to get “IR” up and running and to tap into the interest and enthusiasm we’ve already received in the pre-launch discussions.

If you have any information you wish to give us  please feel free to  email editor a-t with general comments, questions or story ideas (or ‘scoops’ of course!). Please use press@ for announcements and other release information. Embargoes respected, Chatham House rules understood, confidentiality is my middle name so I’m looking forward to hearing from people – the inboxes are up and running!


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Giles Turnbull: Rising, not so slowly

rising slowly – here is the weather

A photo on Flickr

Bravo to Giles Turnbull for resuscitating the Rising Slowly ‘weather blog’. Most interesting though is the fashion of its revival: a pared-down and flickr feed. Brilliant.

Why spend time rewriting content snippets when a pity one-liner and the link itself will suffice. It’s quick, simple, elegant and with such a low cost of time it must be a profitworthy activity (although one suspects a) that Giles is plain obsessed by weather and b) that sales aren’t his main motivation – spot the disarmingly geek-chic anti-sales message:

Supporting Rising Slowly

Not terribly sure what to put here yet. Something about Paypal
maybe? Or buying stuff on a wishlist? Or just sending me some happy
email? Dunno.

Of course, if you want to advertise on RS, you could do that too. If you like.

I never was much of a salesman.

Wonderful. Let’s see what the blog networks make of this radical, pared-down approach.

Moleskine: CityGuide is Web2.0 for paper?

I want one NOW! I’ve tried to create this sort of thing many times, using either Moleskins, pocket-sized filofaxes… This looks like a neat implementation: part journal of record, part updateable working book. Either way these will become prized travelogues and journals in the hands of commited, capable writers. I’ll just buy them because I love the idea of being such a writer 😉

Interesting though how this is a DIY guidebook. To fully make this ‘web2.0 on paper’ you should be able to upload your tips/experiences, tag them and of course ‘subscribe’ to a feed from other travellers. It’d be neat if Moleskin offered a printer ‘plug in’ or a print on demand ability so that you could obtain and carry with you the condensed experience of rated contributors… Oops – I just realised that I’ve described “BookTailor”, a neat Bertellsman-funded POD travel book company that sadly folded in 2001. Surely the time is right for that idea to be re-appraised?

Stunning ‘online’ customer service:

Two things came together: hearing Peter Ahl (MD and founder of speak at ‘What’s New in Online Marketing‘ and really enjoying hearing about their pragmatic ajaxing (as well as their having grown to 5% market share of the floral business in the UK) and my mum staying with us for a week as we got to grips with our newborn.

The time was ripe to ‘say it with flowers’, as the phrase goes, so I gave SerenataFlowers  a quick whirl. Sadly, I was a little too quich and while wibbling between a white thingy and a pink thingy I accidentally added both, then checked out with rapidity not noticing I’d bought both. Doh. While I was a bit miffed at the checkout not having really, really checked that I didn’t want both (!) I wrote this off to experience and consoled myself with the thought of a happy mum.

I was surprised therefore to get a call from the delightfully-helpful “Jeff” in their call centre today, ringing to check that I’d really meant to order two. I admitted that I’d made a mistake, but also that I was happy to live with it. He said it was no problem, that these things happen, that it was their practice to ring and check in cases of double quantities and as I spoke he refunded my card and cancelled the extra plant.

Now, I just don’t see how things get better than this. Slick web interface; good service; good standard operating procedures; humanoids who call you and can make decisions; and a focus on treating the customer well. While I hadn’t held my mistake against Serenata you can be sure that I’ll remember this customer service and will use the service again. Bravo.

e-consultancy event doodles: Ian Jindal

Well, this sure beats filling in the feedback form! “Desperate Dad” attended the e-consultancy event last week and sketched the speakers. His summary of my presentation is largely spot on and my only gripe is that his pencil has given me a jowly look. Mind you, I normally use the “UnFatten” plugin in Photoshop for all my photos, so maybe I shouldn’t complain… 😉 Still, I also flatter myself that I resemble the (much slimmer) Mike Butcher here.

“Tertius” Jindal – arrives at last!

So, here we have the result of Project Tertius, or “Tershey” as he’s been known for months in utero…

Quick facts (more later for doting family etc):

Born: 3 June 2006, 10.30pm by caesarean after 18 hours of labour.

He was a doughty 10lbs 11oz and he and Vicky are both doing well – back from hospital late on Tuesday.

We’ve called him Aneirin Michael Alexander.

Aneirin‘s work is the oldest poetry in the British Isles – a Welshman before there was a Wales; Michael was Vicky’s father and Alexander my grandfather.

Aneirin (pronounced “an-AY-rin”, not “an-EYE-rin”) seems very good natured but that’s based upon a short acquaintance, during which time he (or I) have been sleeping or eating. Sometimes both.

Manon and Alice have been in turns very sweet and then bored with him: he doesn’t have a very high ‘play factor’ for them at present!