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back to article Motorola minimum-wage sheriffs ride in to SAVE the HIGH STREET

Ready to save the high street comes a smart badge from Motorola, promising to turn physical shopping into a connected experience designed to lure back the Amazon generation. The SB1 Smart Badge isn't the only technology Motorola reckons can save physical shopping, but it’s a key component in the push to bring the convenience of …

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Bronze badge

One of my pet peeves about shopping on the high street or in a large store is the muppets who come and irritate me. If they actually knew what they were selling then they'd be able to help, but due to the turnover being above a hundred percent a year, nobody knows anything and are just good at talking shit. This does not encourage me to buy anything from the store.

Most stores would encourage me to visit more if they axed their sales staff. Still, I suppose i'm hardly the typical shopper.

The only place where the sales staff do have any idea is the local maplins, where refreshingly the staff have been around about ten years, and have a good idea of what they are selling or at worst will look up the *correct* answer. These people I don't mind talking to, since they actually do help.

Even if all of their stock is grossly overpriced.

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Bronze badge

Maplins better than nothing.

But their prices ? Jeez !

If in northwest London see instead: http://www.cricklewoodelectronics.com/Cricklewood/home.php

No, I'm just a customer sad to see so many other hobby electronics shops disappear.

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Bronze badge

Re: Maplins better than nothing.

A) Cheap

B) Fast

C) Reliable

Pick two. I consider Maplins to cover B & C and buy online when time allows for A & C. Sometimes you need stuff faster than next day, or "next week" though. (Or next year, if buying from China via eBay)

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h3
Bronze badge

Re: Maplins better than nothing.

You can have it all i.e I go to Farnell use the company my grandfather worked for for the account and then do a cash sale.

It is weird you can buy from Farnell online without an account but not in the shop.

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More tech doesn't fix stupid

This, and the observation that the badge will be used as a stick, are why Motorola will probably make lots of money on this without the brick & mortar shopping experience changing for the better. Management of brick & mortar stores will eat this up, while staying in denial about the real issues that cause customers to go online rather than to the local shop.

True story - I was at Best Buy one day, a US electronics & computer chain. I was just trying to buy a Display Port cable. They are new enough to the market, I couldn't find them at other local stores. I was really trying to give brick & mortar stores a chance, and I wanted to get the cable that day. How hard could it be to buy a cable?

One sales associate had no idea what I wanted & directed me to the wrong area of the store. The other sales associate I talked to wouldn't believe there was such a thing as a DisplayPort cable. He kept asking "Are you sure you don't mean Mini DisplayPort"? These two guys were more a hindrance than a help, causing more stress & wasting my time.

When I got home, it took 10 minutes to browse cables & order the one I wanted from Amazon. As another commenter noted, when you know what you need (and when the sales monkies don't), you're better off ordering online, if you can wait on delivery.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Magic Badge?

Will this badge

1) Make the staff helpful?

2) Make the staff actually talk to me?

3) Stop the hardsell at the other end of the spectrum

4) Cancel the bullshit from the people selling technology? (super fast, better quality picture on your TV, HDMI cables for 100 quid anyone?)

5) Get the physical shops to carry more than 1 or 2 manufacturer?

6) Bring the shops prices in line with what the item should cost?

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In reality

What will happen is that the "managers" will use the badge to set meaningless targets i.e. speak to x number of customers per hour, promote y products etc. and use the data collected to confirm that the staff are doing this; or then (more likely) use non-conformance as a way to avoid paying bonuses, pay rises etc.

They will also probably use it to track where the staff go (4 toilet breaks yesterday; you're drinking too much) or similar.

The problem is that most of the people that end up using the newer technologies don't really understand how it could be used to amke things better; and then fall back on old ways of working. If it is a bad manual process, using new tech will not suddenly make it any better and this will be no different.

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Silver badge

Version II will give a static shock if the wearer stands still for more than 3 minutes :-)

I can see how this seemed like a great idea to the person who developed it and that managers will love being able to see which staff members are taking longer than their mandated 48 second bathroom break or sneaking off for a fag, but honestly isn't this taking micromanaging way too far? They already force staff to bug the hell out of you whilst you shop then plague you with crap at the checkout (seriously officemax, if I wanted a box of paper I'd likely have remembered when I walked past 6 isles of it). Leave the staff the hell alone and more importantly leave the customers alone, if we want help we will ask.

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assuming anyone uses instore wifi

the price comparisom scenario depends on customers accepting instore wifi,

i know i never will due to the snooping etc that can and does go on, but surely as is already known burying a clause about " you agree to be monitored" in the small print of T's and C's does not constitute "informed consent" and the EU already made that clear regard BT's contract changes to try and make phorm legal

also you have the issue "same as phorm" about website content being used for commercial gain as the website such as amazon has not given permission for their data to be intercepted and used against them in a competitive market

and yes i agree with the poster above, the badges are more likely to be used as a stick to beat the employee with rather than drive up customer service as they are design to do

all the time you go in pc world with there carefully layed out mechandise with cheapest on the left and more expensive on the right and the sales person is paid commision you will not get good advise for the customer, only good advise for the sales person commission and rarely are the two the same

problem is more and more people are becoming tech savy, or take someone tech savvy with them and the BS spouted by the sales team leads to a loss of confidence of the customer and a lost sale

i have corrected sales people in various stores and even been asked to leave after one lost a sale of several thousand because i exposed the lies he was telling the customer, good fun though

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Anonymous Coward

Re: assuming anyone uses instore wifi

That is why I like John Leiws, the staff as helpful, usually know their stuff AND do not get paid commission, so they are not trying to sell you the item with the highest commission

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Silver badge

Yeah! That'll get me back into stores!

Not prices, customer service, or even a clean and pleasant place to shop.

A gimmicky little badge! That's what will have me racing to the shops with my wallet in hand!

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FAIL

Re-inventing....

...the pager. How very motorola. How sad.

Still, the things people are working on for your phone, yes you, the customer, are much sillier...

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min wage is where it will be

Lately it seems that these ideas turn the shop into a showroom where you then have to order what you really want. The workers in there are only there to keep you from swiping the display models. No more, no less. They're incapable of doing anything else.

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Looks like a gimmick to me.

Anyone want a touchscreen fridge? Or a talking toaster?

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Happy

Re: Looks like a gimmick to me.

Talking toaster count me in:

I mean, the whole purpose of my existence is to serve you with hot, buttered, scrummy toast. If you don't want any, then my existence is meaningless.

See http://www.geocities.ws/danhiggins3/toastcontent/dwarftoast.html for full extract ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Barcodes are not expensive

Retailers can and do buy Global Trade Item Numbers in bulk from their national arm of GS1. You get a company prefix, from which you then allocate numbers to products. The fee scale (for the UK) is at http://www.gs1uk.org/about-us/Pages/Become-a-member.aspx and is based on company turnover, and how many barcodes you want.

Frankly, if you’re using up to 1,000 numbers, and making up to £500k turnover, £107 joining fee + £117 annual licence fee is not that expensive. Sell 1,000 items - just 1,000 units of the same code - and it's less than a penny per item. The paper label costs more than the code! RFID tags are still very expensive in comparison, and I actually don't see retailers needing to tell the difference between one pink shirt, 16" collar, long body, and another.

If you’re only selling products in your own stores, you don’t even need to buy Global Trade Item Numbers. The 200-299 range of prefixes is reserved for private use (http://www.gs1.org/barcodes/support/prefix_list says ‘Restricted distribution’). At least one large retailer I’ve worked with uses 200 prefixes for all their own stock.

Other retailers use different symbologies entirely. The symbology is how the pattern of dark and light areas are mapped to a character set, and the tech specs of the pattern, and there are at least 10 in common use. I’ve worked with retailers that used ‘Interleaved 2 of 5’ (aka ITF) or ‘Code 128’ in their businesses.

Motorola’s problem now is that smartphone cameras are good enough, with open-source software (Zebra Crossing, aka ZXing, for example), to recognize all 1D and 2D barcodes very quickly – you don’t need a specialist device to do it. For bulk scanning I would still use a proper barcode scanner, as they’re even quicker, but for occasional scans the smartphone can do the job.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Just another way of flogging underpaid staff

While it doesn't improve my shopping experience, I fully expect people working for minimum wage to slack off, maybe smoke a doobie in the parking lot, etc. It's not a living wage and the job has no other perks in most cases. If you're going to make some poor barely-employable kid's life miserable by forcing them to wear one of these, where they can be tracked every second, sent mostly pointless instructions for busy work, and generally tracked more than a federal prisoner, at least pay them more or give them some incentive to be a mindless robot. God forbid you treat the staff like human beings and offer training and incentives for intelligent behavior.

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