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January 14. 2016

How to integrate technology into retail to ensure retail survival

Across the world the debate continues about the future of retail shopping.  This year alone there was a twofold increase in the number of Christmas gifts purchased online versus in-store.  

UK retail specialist Mary Porter believes that the Internet has ruined retail shopping for good but here at Item Shark we think the key to the survival of retail is the integration of technology in store.

Statistically nearly 65% of shoppers begin their shopping experience online but a far smaller proportion complete the sale online. So although researching products in store has declined dramatically, purchasing products in store has declined less.  Online shopping removes what was always considered the stressful part of shopping finding the goods in the first place.  With the rise of click and collect retails stores have become conversion tools.  

We have put together the top 5 tips for integrating technology into retail. 

1. One of the benefits of researching online is the comparison element, being able to see reviews and comments from other shoppers has become an increasingly important part of our shopping experience.  Item Shark was built to support online and offline shopping.  Products can be searched for online while in store using the barcode or specific model or brand numbers so that even in store shoppers can compare products and see reviews.

2.   Reviews are important because they give the consumer an impartial and honest view of the product.  In store shop assistants were once the final deciding factor in a sale but these views are not impartial and their influence shows a statistical reduction over the past decade.  John Stine, global director of retail sales at Intel says stores must ensure “that they provide value beyond the presence of salespeople whose knowledge can never compare with the information available online” This might come in the form of printed guides for products or videos from industry experts talking about the product.

3. Sensory experiences particularly for high value items are still considered the top conversion variables.  So although researching is an important part of the sale, the final buying decision in many cases still relies on something, which online cannot offer, touch, smell, sight…   If retail is to continue to be successful it must realize the value of the experience involved in purchasing products and use this to their advantage, knowing offline stores could never replicate it.

4. People still matter, even in a world where technology is becoming a close friend.  Apple has shown that the experience of being supported by “geniuses” can add real value to a product, which is not only purchased online in vast quantities but is itself an online product.  Retail stores can learn from this and create a team and environment where people want to come and spend time.  

5. Integration of social media platforms into store experiences has shown retailers a new way to engage audiences.  Ask people to check in when they visit your store, or use social media on screens in store to show genuine feedback and reviews about your products.   Social media updating in real time can remove the formal sales feeling of a retail store.  

December 7. 2015

Welcome to Item Shark

When the search engines first came into existence they provided us a short cut to our desired websites, they accurately filtered results and led us cleanly to the products and information we required.  Today, data is generated in vast quantities each day; the amount of data gathered from the beginning of time up to 2008, is now gathered every minute.


This absurd volume of data meant, in the most part, that users were once again left to filter their own way through the information, since Google’s kind offer of 18 billion results was hardly within the correct definition of filter.


At Item Shark we wanted more, we deserved more, so we built a platform, which allowed us to filter technology results, in a format that we choose.  In saying the information we now have available is vast, it is not to say that the information is not useful.  Increasingly educated consumers want enough information to be able to sell the product to themselves and we aimed to filter all the relevant information in one place. 


Item Shark listings include technology specifications, item descriptions, pricing from various sources, reviews and a barcode scanner.  Information might be generated online but it filters into our offline lives and we were anxious to ensure that any filtering device we built could be used during offline shopping experiences too.  Item Shark allows users to scan items or enter barcode numbers and find relevant and targeted information about products.


The problem with the search engine is that the collation of data in the search engine in not limited to one subject.  A search for a barcode number or technical specification for a product is likely to be listed amongst telephone directories with similar numbers or manufacturing websites.  Item Shark is filtered before the user filter so the only information we search for is information specifically related to the product in question.  This gives the user a far more accurate and targeted search function when looking for technology product information.


Item Shark is a consumer tool and we ask you to use it and feedback to us about it.  Did you receive the search results you expected?  Is there any more information you would like to see?  Item Shark is for everyone and we aim to be the most comprehensive source of technology information on the web.


October 27. 2015

Top 5 Technology Trends for 2016

Every year Gartner Inc. analysts highlight the top 10 technology trends for the upcoming year and present the findings at the annual Gartner Symposium/ ITxpo.  The findings are defined as the "top technology innovations which will have a significant impact on the organisation".  The conference took place this month in Orlando, Florida and Item Shark has summarised the top 5 trends below.

1. The Device Mesh

As we continue to expand the number of devices we carry and use, analysts predict that there will be an increasing focus on how we can combine the use of all the devices for a better user experience.  While devices have been linked through cloud software and back end systems, the devices themselves have operated largely in isolation.  Gartner predict the expansion of connection models which allows for cooperative interaction.

2. Ambient User Experience

The improved connectivity of devices introduces an ambient user experience, where augmented and virtual reality become real possibilities and the aim becomes a seamless experience across all devices.  This includes not only mobile devices but automobiles and home software.

3. 3D Printing Materials

3D printing has gained increasing traction in the past decade but has yet to trickle down to mainstream society.  Gartner suggested that improved machinery and an expanded list of materials suitable for printing will lead to wider usage.  Already 3D printed materials are being used in the aerospace, automotive, medical and energy sectors with demand steadily increasing year on year.

4. Information of Everything

The device mesh produces an increasing amount of data and information of everything describes a world where data about our lives are captured and stored in vast quantities each day.  Strategies and technology will be required to link and ensure secure usage of all the data and Gartner suggest their will be a competitive market emerge in this area.

5. Advanced Machine Learning

Advance machine learning refers to the evolution of technology to move beyond classic information management to create systems which can autonomously learn to understand the world on their own.  DNNs (Deep Neural Nets) are described as an advanced machine learning used in large datasets, and will be the main driver of the evolution.

October 27. 2015

iPhone 7 - The Story So Far

Despite happily purchasing our iPhone 6/6 plus/6S and enjoying the new features, we now face the possibility that our devices will be overshadowed in the summer of 2016 by the far superior iPhone 7.  Item Shark has outlined what we know so far and what we might expect to see from Apple's new model.

1. Is there a launch date?

Apple have precedence for sticking to a development schedule and there is no reason to assume that this launch would be any different.  That being said the launch of the iPhone 7 is expected towards the end of Summer 2016.  

2. Will there be a new design?

Rumour has it that Apple are going to completely redesign the handset to accommodate the new technology.  The handset is expected to be much thinner than we have seen from Apple in recent years and will expand on the pressure touch technology seen in the iPhone 6S.

3. What are the best rumours so far?

We at Item Shark have two personal favourites so far - that it will be waterproof and that it will have wireless charging.  There has been rumours of waterproof phones before when Apple were found to have lodge a patent for Plasma-Assisted Chemical Vapour Deposition (PACVD) a technique which would coat the internal components and make the waterproof.  Wireless charging seems like an obvious progressions since Samsung consider this a key selling message of their product.

Let us know what you think about the iPhone 7 and what you would hope to see from this latest upgrade.