18 Sep

Visual ID together with Athlone IT and DCU to develop smart product image recognition application for the Grocery Industry

Visual ID have engaged in a €180,000 project together with Athlone IT and DCU to develop a smart stand-alone image recognition application for the grocery industry. This smart image recognition software will revolutionise how trading and marketing departments within brand owner and retail groups manage:

  1. The transfer of trading and marketing Images and data amongst themselves
  2. Streamline the marketing production workflows for print and digital outputs

images

The project is supported by Enterprise Ireland and funded by investment from an EI innovation partnership grant and funding from Visual ID. The timescale to produce a commercially viable application is 15 months with Visual ID confident that a beta version will be available within 12 months.

Visual ID are continuing on their innovative development strategy to assist all companies in the retail sector to operate more efficiently and reduce current operating costs associated with trading and marketing functions.

2 Jun

The Missing Linked

linkedin

Recently, I attended a day course about using LinkedIn for business run by the Local Enterprise Office. This course looked at your personal page and your business page. I am familiar with LinkedIn and have a personal page that I try to keep updated and informative. The company business page does exist but is a little sparse and needs a face lift.

The course looked into building up your friends or connections and how useful these new found “friends” can be. The lecturer, Noel Davidson, stressed that it is not about adding everyone in mass and having thousands of connections but about the type of people you connect with – quality not quantity.

We also looked at joining groups that concern your type of business or your own hobbies. There are two different types of groups – Open and Closed. Closed groups are monitored and you must ask the moderators to join whereas open groups are the opposite and you are free to come and go.Groups can be very useful in business and with personal pages as they can be used for discussions, promotions, jobs (advertising and seeking) and marketing research.

We also spoke about posting and what kind of content to post. This was the part I was very interested in as when you are posting out to the masses under the company name, it needs to be interesting and relevant. Noel spoke about the 80 – 20 rule. 80% general posting and 20% about your business as you don’t want to spam people with “look at us aren’t we wonderful” posts.

This is something that I was not aware of, I understand not to boast about your business but before the course I was convinced I must always be posting about our business and projects we are doing. Noel has found that “Givers Get” and what he means by that is posting interesting articles about general topics makes your more informative and approachable.

LinkedIn can be a great promotional tool. It is free and manned by you. It is very simple to use and is laid out well. Once you have dressed your personal or business profile well you are a “click away from business”. This shows that by representing yourself well online new business could be just around that social media corner.

This is my task – to take on the Business page using my new skills in LinkedIn to make the Visual ID business page into a beacon of Knowledge and Connections!

Challenge accepted.

 

18 May

For Barretstown!

On the 15th of May it was time for Visual ID to get our running shoes on for charity and run/jog/crawl a 5k trail around the business campus in Citywest. The

The Team
The Team

Barretstown Lunchtime 5k is an annual event to raise money for a wonderful charity. Barretstown camp is a place where families who have been affected by serious illness in children can go and act like a regular family. The camps give families a chance to play and have fun outside of a hospital and enjoy life together.

Visual ID were already in a party mood as it was Yvonne’s Birthday! Donned with decorations, Teddy balloons, sparkles, hats and Hawaiian flower necklaces we set off on a days “work”! The office has never looked better (and still does this Monday morning)!

There was a great turnout from many of the different offices on the campus, up to 300 people! Some dressed in their running gear taking it very seriously and then there were some on our level dressed as super heroes and cartoon characters! The heavens threatened to open a few times but it managed to hold off till later in the afternoon (when we were back scoffing pizzas!!)

The event raised more than €15,000 for a wonderful cause and it was a brilliant day for all! You can see the evidence in a few pics attached!

 

P.S I’m still finding party glitter everywhere..

Make a wish
Make a wish

 

 

26 Jan

Pinpointing Ireland

Templemore or Thurles
Templemore or Thurles?

Some time ago, one of our clients asked me to put together a location map for a chain of hardware stores in county Tipperary, to appear on a new website. I was given a bunch of business cards with the relevant contact details. When I finally got around to do some work on the map, I discovered that these details consisted of nothing more than phone numbers and email addresses alongside the name of the town in which each store is located.

Thinking that visitors of the new website might want a slightly more accurate location than Google’s perceived town centre of “Thurles” or “Roscrea”, I asked my client to come back with an actual address for each store. This time, I was given a list with addresses such as “Cahir Road, Cashel” and “Templemore Road, Thurles”.

Looking at Google’s map of Cashel, I see that the Cahir Road stretches for 1.5 kilometres from the centre of town to the M8 motorway on the outskirts, hardly a pinpoint location. Asking Google to find the Templemore Road in Thurles proves even more elusive, when one of those red markers is firmly planted in the centre of the Thurles Road in Templemore (spot the difference of around 14 kilometers).

OK, so I deploy some common sense and trace this road in the direction of Thurles, hoping that we will see the expected exchange between the name of the town and that of the road. No such luck. According to Google, when the N62 coming from Templemore reaches Thurles, it is called the Brittas Road — the Templemore Road simply does not exist, other than in local folklore, maybe. Or maybe Google’s got it wrong, horribile dictu.

Eventually I had no other choice than to take a virtual trip on Google Streetview down the various Main and other Streets of county Tipperary — ultimately pinpointing all of the listed hardware stores. Happy days.

This is not the first time I’ve struggled trying to find a precise location on Irish soil. Every other week or so, I may receive a text message from my daughter’s coach telling us that the next match is against Such-and-Such in Somebody’s Park. Invariably I have no clue as to how I might get to the relevant grounds, and rely once again on Google to help me out.

A match in Hermitage Park landed a Google Maps marker in the middle of a housing estate in Rathfarnham. Alongside the “Park”, there’s a Drive, Court, Grove and a host of other examples of how to avoid using the word Street — but no sign of a sports field. Of course Google is blissfully unaware that locals (and GAA veterans) refer to the sports grounds in nearby St. Enda’s Park as, you’ve guessed it: Hermitage Park.

None of this would be a problem if Ireland had post codes like the rest of Europe, or maybe even the Rest Of The World. Combined with a house number, the average post code will translate into a GPS-friendly point on the map that leaves little room for confusion — or maybe that’s just my utopian view. As it stands, Dublin is the only city in Ireland to use primitive postal districts, carving the city up in 22 chunks, with odd numbers for the northside, even for the south, and a lone alphanumeric 6W for the posh.

On his website, a South Dublin solicitor states his address as “DX 225 002 Clonskeagh”. It’s a mystery where this cryptic pseudo-postcode comes from, but its progressiveness has to be admired. There are currently several unofficial postcode systems deployed in Ireland, such as GeoDirectory, GoCode and Loc8 Code — but these would be largely unfamiliar to the average punter, and the codes they produce don’t look anything like the one displayed by our solicitor. In fact, their codes appear to be shortcuts to geographic coordinates supplied by Google, and so my front garden would have a different code than my back garden.

Playing with their iPhone apps, I discover that our office is in Dublin L66 CTF1 (GoCode) — or maybe that should be Dublin NS4-30-N13 (Loc8 Code). Either way, these codes point to our office in Citywest, and then tell us that it’s in Dublin 24, Co. Dublin, Ireland  — compliments of Google.

Over the past decade, there has been plenty of talk by various ministers about plans to introduce post codes in Ireland. It seems that this project has so far been assigned to the category of perpetual procrastination, along with electronic voting and the rail link to the airport. I’d hate to guess how many millions have already been spent on coming up with suggestions that the post code format should be “memorable” and “alpha-numeric”.

Confusion in Clonskeagh

For now, it seems that we will have to make do without postcodes for the forseeable future. Finding addresses such as St. James’s Terrace in Clonskeagh will therefore remain a challenge when relying on Google, ending up in Dolphin’s Barn instead. Of course we can’t really blame Google when no. 2 St. James’s Terrace, Clonskeagh, is the exact same building as no. 4 Clonskeagh Road. So that’s St. James’s Terrace, Dublin 8. No wait, 6. It’s in Dublin, somewhere.

13 Jan

The impact of “Showrooming” on the retail sector

I read an article on this topic recently by Jeff Weidauer onscreen-promotion

http://theshelfedge.com.

The term “Showrooming” has been coined as a way to describe the activities of consumers checking out what is on offer in retail stores and then making their purchase online (sometimes while still standing in the shop).

A couple of years ago, it was suggested that showrooming would be the end of the retail store.  Fortunately, the reality is very different.

In his article, Jeff Weidauer says “solving the biggest problem that results in showrooming isn’t really that complex. Showrooming is primarily a price-related activity; a direct result of consumers checking online pricing, comparing that to what is on the shelf, and finding a huge disparity. Simply removing, or at least reducing that disparity has let most of the air out of showrooming.”

He goes on to say that “a greater opportunity remains for bricks and mortar retail, along with a greater challenge. The challenge is to run stores with lower margins dictated by online price matching, and to figure out where costs can be cut and the margins recaptured to support the overhead cost structure. Real-world retail is more expensive than online, so the model has to work long-term……..

Slaying the showrooming dragon for good will take a full commitment to making the bricks and mortar shopping experience better overall than shopping online.”

This positive experience needs to be built on three pillars –

i)                    the staff in the shop,

ii)                  the visual and sensorial experience for the shopper from the moment they enter the shop, and

iii)                the competitive value of the goods on offer.

In Visual ID we help our clients achieve this positive experience for their consumers.  If you want to know more then visit us at www.visualid.com.

 

25 Nov

Signs as marketing

This article is taken from the website of the International Sign Association.Mount-Merrion-Front

www.signs.org

It deals with the importance of business signs in particular, but the main points could apply to all types of signage.

Signs

Signs are so widespread we hardly notice them. That is until we’re looking for one and then we only note that in passing. We don’t realize their effect on us, which is one reason why they’re so effective.

However, it is precisely because they are so commonplace that many merchants take them for granted. Obviously, most small business owners know they need a sign but they think of them as merely a marker identifying the business. As a result they are unaware of and underutilize the earning potential of signage.

The ABC’s of signage

At a minimum, your sign should attract new customers, Brand the business and Create impulse sales.

Attract New Customers

Research indicates that 85% of your customers live or work within a five-mile radius of your business. But in the U.S. for example, over 18% of the population relocates annually.

Which means every year you’re losing customers that you must replace with new customers, just to break even. If you only want to grow your business, you must increase your customer base. The quickest, easiest and most economical way to attract new customers is with signage.

Brand the Business

When your business is the first one that comes to mind as a place to find a product or service, you have achieved what is called “top-of-mind awareness.” Top-of-mind awareness is built and reinforced through repetition.

As mentioned, 85% of your customers live or work within a five-mile radius of your business. When driving to and from work, school and shopping, they pass your location some 50 to 60 times a month. Your sign should be designed so that it commands their attention every time they pass.

Create Impulse Sales

Even though many of today’s consumers have the financial ability to spend money, few have the time in which to do that spending. They’re certainly too busy to search for you or wander around comparison-shopping. They are more likely to stop at the first convenient place they see that seems to be selling what they need.

Who hasn’t been driving down the street, stopped at a store and made a purchase, merely because they saw the sign?

Best Buy discovered that about 17% of its customers were people who did not intend to stop there but did so specifically because they saw the sign.

Marketing to your Customers

Different types of businesses have different signage needs because they serve different purposes and reach out to different customers. To make sure your signage is specifically marketing to your customers you must first determine your category of business.

At one end of the business category spectrum are companies that satisfy specific and infrequent customer needs. At the other end are businesses that fulfil general and frequent needs.

Infrequent needs branding sites

Businesses that offer products or services that meet specialized or infrequent needs must develop top-of-mind awareness so people remember the business when those needs arise. Examples of this kind of business include veterinary practices, appliance and electronics stores, locksmiths, medical and dental offices, real estate offices, and accounting and bookkeeping firms.

These businesses must focus on branding their site. To reinforce this effort, the signage itself must be designed to project the right image for the business and have that image be recalled.

Frequent or Impulse Needs

Businesses designed to meet frequent or impulse needs must reach out and pull people in on the spot. Examples of these include grocery stores, petrol stations, hotels, video stores, restaurants, convenience stores, and car washes.

Many of these business’s customers need to make a quick decision to stop. Therefore, their signage should be eye-catching with a brief, simple message that can be read and understood quickly. The businesses must be noticed and recognized at precisely the right time by those ready to buy. If your sign is going to convince the impulse customer to stop at your business, it must be designed so that the important information is easily recognized at a glance. Because we read from the top down and left to right, the key word, graphic, or logo should be located at the top of the sign and read from left to right. Otherwise, the reader can get confused and take longer to understand the sign’s message. This delay can mean the person who is seeing the sign for the first time is unable to read and react to it before driving past your business.

 

14 Nov

Using Face Book Pages to Promote to your Consumers:

Social Media today has to be adopted by all businesses in one way or another. The uses of social media differ considerably whether you are in Business to Business or Business to consumer. Not wanting to jump into the whole area of advertising and pay for clicks, generating likes and shares on social media I’m just going to talk about my opinions on posting to your Social media sites be they Facebook Twitter Linked in or You Tube.

In Business to business content the tendency is to talk about your product in detail and in most instances this is the wrong approach. If someone needs product information they should go to your website. Social media for business is to impart useful related or in some instances unrelated information that your customer base may find useful. We tend to post industry newsworthy articles that deal with advancements in Digital media and the future of the industry, along with some totally zany local and interesting posts that we see as fun and interesting. Who wants to read boring tec talk all the time!!

Business to consumer is a different approach you have the opportunity to increase sales using you posts. Our retail clients use our product to seamlessly deliver promotional posts to their Facebook pages to promote anything from a lunch time meal offer to a new financial product. In retail or advisory business you have access to a waiting audience i.e. your shoppers, Customers, Members etc. These are the first people that you can target and increase sales organically by using targeted daily weekly and monthly campaigns to this audience.

Simple examples are:

Convenience retail customer: Posts a new lunch offer at 10.30 every morning to his Facebook members offering a money off a coffee or drink if they give the code on the Facebook post for that day. This encourages people to like and share the post and is targeted at the retailer’s followers who shop daily in the store.

Financial services client: Deadlines for Pension investment and management is at this time of year. This client uses among other things their social media platforms to encourage their clients to book a review well in advance of the deadline. This keeps the financial services client involved with their customer base and gives a percentage return on renewed connection and an opportunity to sell more financial products to their existing customer base.

This may be very simple examples of constructive use of social media but of  course if you don’t have a following then this is the first thing you need to address, but that is a whole different blog!!