We haven't lost our Funk…

…y Retail. It’s in Chicago. We’re still catching up on a few events from the past few weeks. Now, Bullseye has definitely become our most popular prototype due to its simplicity and the mere fact that it can be shown without anyone from the Labs team being physically present. Through the success of this approach we have gained confidence to apply the same course of action to other prototypes. In this case our colleagues in Chicago showed Funky Retail at IRCE (Internet Retailer Conference + Exhibition).

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Here’s what Kevin had to say about the event:

“In summary, the show was good and there was interest in the Funky Retail concept. IRCE attracts smaller retailers, many without physical stores, so the there was less traffic compared to NRF. But overall those that did visit the Funky Retail display were very interested. Their number one question was ‘Who is using this?’. And many discussed the possibility of using such an interactive display within their own retail environments or how to put such a display into retailer selling their products.”

Well done, guys! Everybody’s happy!

Just an ordinary trip with Hybris Labs

Our luggage…

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…then a bit of shopping (sweets this time, not wine)…

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…obligatory soldering…

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…followed by testing (behind closed doors with some random objects)…

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…setting up at the event location…

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… and pretending nothing ever happened.

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Okay, there is a bit more to the story. We were invited to the CMO Council Elite Retreat as part of SAP Sapphire Now, where we showed Funky Retail and also Bullseye.

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On top of that we supported the SAP Machine Learning Team.

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They used a slightly modified version of Bullseye to generate some live data for their showcase and to make it more tangible.

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Sweet deep learning with YaaS.

The Funky Saga continues…

New York City, Retail’s Big Show 2016 – first event of the year: check. Piece of cake…NOT! Here’s the story…

The idea: show Funky Retail (on special request renamed ‘Connected Retailer’) at one of the biggest events in the calendar.

The plan (A): ship the Funky Retail EU version from Munich to NYC because the US version was slightly broken. Remember Fort Worth and Miami?

The challenge: realising that one and the same building in New York can have two completely separate entrances and well…shit…plan B… (P.S. Don’t ever try calling USPS or you’ll be in for treatment.)

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Plan B: Since we didn’t know when our beloved prototype would arrive back in Munich and couldn’t be sure it would be in time to send it again or take it along on the plane, we decided to ship the US version to New York, fly in a day earlier, and repair a Funky Retail yet another time. Based on previous experiences we decided to take plenty of spare parts.

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And that was only one of the boxes. (Great luggage when you’re flying to the United States.) We were ready for nearly every eventuality. I think you can guess what happened next. Correct, the Funky Retail EU version arrived back at the Munich office. This gave us new options, so what now? After checking that traveling once around the globe hadn’t done it any harm, we chose to make doubly sure everything would work out in NYC and decided to take Funky Retail along as bulky luggage but still be prepared to repair either of the versions. Oh by the way, the Funky Retail US version was supposed to go to Sao Paulo next, to support our Brazilian colleagues at the local SAP Forum in March… But first things first.

With all that figured out, Anja and Christian were ready to head to the airport. Well, nearly… Unfortunately Christian started feeling unwell over night and wasn’t fit to fly. Luckily Georg was spontaneous enough to take his spot on the same flight. Right, we now had Anja and Georg  in NYC together with Funky Retail (EU), while Funky Retail (US) was waiting there in the hybris office. Next step was testing the Funky Retails. A suitable place to do this would be the office one might think, assuming of course that you’re allowed to take things out of the office after you have finished testing. But in these super-secure ages of humanity you can only leave the building with an item if you have a note permitting you to do so. This also counts for items you bring your self when you enter the site. It being Friday late afternoon this posed to be a trifle difficult. To summarise: Georg and Anja couldn’t pick up the Funky Retail (US) and also weren’t able to test the EU version at the office, because that would have meant leaving it there until Monday which wasn’t an option since the event started on the Sunday. That called for some hotel room action!

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A good old Hybris Labs tradition brought back to life. Only this time it didn’t involve wine bottle re-labeling, but actual prototype testing. Evolution.

After this brief introduction we can now come to the actual event – Retail’s Big Show 2016. It went really well! Quite rewarding after all the hassle.

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We had a very nice setup and not only did everything work, we also got lots of traffic and received plenty of good feedback. The demo was part of an integrated SAP story – from a tweet to the store. After three hard days of presenting (For all of you thinking we just travel to fancy places and have a good time: you’re welcome to have a go! Try standing at a booth all day. For beginners we recommend a one day event.) it was time to pack up. “Where is the Funky Retail case?” – “In storage.” – “Can we have it please.” – “Oh, that could take up to 8 hours.” – “Aaarrrggghhh!” …

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At least we now know that Funky Retail fits into 3 blue bags. Repacking into the actual case was a hotel job again. The trip was coming to an end but the unfixed Funky Retail (US) was still at the hybris office. Only this time Anja and Georg had a note!

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With the plane taking off a few hours later there was no other option but to bring it home to Munich for inspection.

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[bulky luggage]², but everyone and everything got back safe. What an odyssey. Let’s see how we get this baby to Brazil…

Funky Beach – Part 5 of the increasingly inaccurately named Customer Days Trilogy

Why is this part 5, you might ask? This event had nothing to do with the hybris Americas Customer Days, neither B2B Game Plan, nor did it take place in the same venue in Fort Worth. The SAP Retail Forum we’re talking about was located in Miami Beach. But we’re still in the same week! Funky Retail, the repaired Funky Retail, was dismantled on Tuesday evening, traveled to Miami on Wednesday morning and had to be set up again that same day. How’s that for a tight schedule?! And when we opened up the case, we found this:

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Yippieh, Skippy! As if we hadn’t suffered enough already! But let’s not be too dramatic. It seems the TSA was gentle with our Prototype. All systems were up and running before bedtime without any further obstructions.

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Next morning we could finally get back to business as usual. To round things off we made a slight enhancement to our branding…

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As a reward Scott got some camera time again.

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hybris Americas Customer Days, part 1 – Bringing back the Funk

There was so much going at this year’s hybris Americas Customer Days 2015, we’ll make trilogy out of the story. In part 1, ‘Bringing back the Funk’, we’ll talk about the setting up of our demos. Not a piece of cake this time…

Upon arrival in Fort Worth, Texas everything looked fine. Our booth was being set up according to our wishes. “This goes there please”, “power here please”, “a hole in that wall please”, “Ethernet here, here and here please”, “WiFi please”, “more WiFi please”, “more faster WiFi please”,… the usual stuff. Totally new to us was the needlessness of wine bottle re-labelling. Very confusing, because that usually was the first action item after checking into an hotel in the US. The schedule looked comfortable, since we had arrived on the Sunday afternoon with the event not starting until Monday evening.

Monday morning: firing up and testing the demos. Moto, The Changing Room and Funky Retail were the prototypes on the list. It was the latter that caused us serious headaches this time. The photos tell the story…

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Yes, we had to re-solder everything from top to bottom. Just to find out that the short circuit that had caused the damage, had also fried the Arduino. Unlike pressure and proximity sensors, this isn’t a spare part we carry around with us. Ironic isn’t it? We’re always talking about simplifying e-commerce, but in this case the only option we had was to get into taxi and drive an hour to the next suitable shop. Unfortunately we only found an inferior replacement. At the end, Georg and Lars managed to get three of the five Funky Boxes up and running. Average time to set up Funky Retail: 30 min; set up time in Fort Worth: 27 h…

Oh, we also showed The Changing Room and Moto. They worked though. Eventually… To be absolutely honest, there was a period of time during which none of the labs prototypes was working. Let’s call this ‘exciting’…

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Where are we? No details, just tell me which country…

Paris, mon ami. Surely it must get a bit confusing for Scott at some stage. Last week he was in New York City with Max (presenting Funky Retail) and this week he was in Paris with Anja (presenting Funky Retail…). We are worrying about a developing schizophrenia, because all of a sudden it’s Scott who’s setting up the demo!

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Either that, or he was just fed up with things going wrong (like in NYC) and decided to take over. If you want something done properly you’d better do it yourself! (Sorry Max…) The thing is though, everything worked fine this time… But to be fair, the Funky Retail version in Paris is a different one. We’ll have to face it: France 1 – USA 0.

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And with all systems up and running nice and smoothly, Anja and Scott could focus more on the actual event. E-Commerce Paris has become the biggest international cross-channel event to take place in Europe. It is also a nice place to meet some familiar faces. Look who Anja and Scott bumped into:

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Goetz Pfeifferling and Larry Arnstein from Impinj, our partners in crime when it comes to building prototypes with RFID technology. We love their stuff!

Sneaky smuggling and secret soldering

It was the launch of SAP’s Beyond CRM campaign. A big PR event. New York City. The Yankee Stadium. So obviously something was bound to go wrong with demo, wasn’t it? Welcome to the next episode of “Oh dear…”. Take a look at the photo below and interpret the expression on Scott’s face for yourself.

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But let’s rewind. For a number of events that are coming up in the US, we needed another version of our Funky Retail prototype. We had the hardware built in the States and prepared the electronics here in Munich. All that was left to be done, was putting the parts together. You can guess where this is going. Perhaps there was a deviation while converting from the metric to the imperial system, who knows… In any case, the distance sensors didn’t fit and Max had to apply heavy machinery.

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Problem solved? Yes. All problems? No. Of course not. Somehow one of the pressure sensors didn’t survive the transport. Let’s see, whom can we blame for that? Since Max carried the electronics in his bag… Well, he’s the one who had to fix it again anyway… But he required some spare parts. Now time became an issue, resulting in the fact that Max had to do the repairs inside the Yankee Stadium. Did you know that a climbing helmet (one of our Funky Retail products) is regarded to be a potential assault weapon? Max and Scott certainly didn’t until they were kindly informed by a security guard as they were trying to enter the Yankee Stadium. Somehow Scott managed to convince this friendly gentleman that he they were not planning to commit any sort of crime with this 430 gram heavy object. But for some reason Max decided not to mention the soldering iron he was carrying with him (naughty boy!). Neither did he ask where he hypothetically could go to use it if he had one. Instead the two of them sneaked into a room, and while Scott was guarding the door… perhaps this is already more than you need to know… A miracle! When Scott and Max set up the demo at the booth, everything worked! Some problems just solder…. solve themselves. From then on, everything went fine. For a few minutes…

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Scott managed to present Funky Retail to the media. After that one of the boxes stopped working. For the first time a slight feeling of resignation came up. Always remember: we build prototypes, not products! Perhaps our slogan “Everybody’s happy!” doesn’t apply quite so well in this case, but in the end…

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Funky Relevance

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“Bleiben Sie relevant für Ihre Kunden!” – Remain relevant to your customers! Before you condemn this to be just another cheesy marketing phrase, let’s take a look at the definition. ‘Relevance – The quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate.’   You see, now we’re talking. We like connecting things. But not only on a technological level. While designing Funky Retail we were also thinking about we could connect to customers in the physical retail space emotionally. This is part of what in professional terms is referred to as Customer Relation Management (CRM). Our Exhibit Space Manager, Andreas Kopp, took Funky Retail along to the Swiss CRM Forum in Zurich, and brought back some good feedback. Well, actually he’s not back yet. That’s just an assumption based on the Champagne-photo…

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Funky Love from Munich

Did we catch you with that title? Then you might as well read the rest of this article or at least look at the pictures…

It may have gotten a little quiet in the last few weeks, but we’ll be picking up speed very soon! In the coming 40 days we’ll be attending events in Zurich, Munich, New York City, Cologne, Paris, Stuttgart, Philadelphia, Berlin, Munich, Munich, Dallas, Dallas, and Miami. 13 different events in the listed order. The result of this being that we had to rebuild Funky Retail. Again. Twice. Here’s Sven and Max checking the insides…

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Please don’t get us wrong, of course it makes us very happy that our prototypes are requested for so many events. But up to this moment in time, we have built Funky Retail 5 times. This puts our small labs team into a bit of a dilemma. The reproduction of prototypes uses up resources that we would like to use on developing cool new stuff. This isn’t a complaint, it’s just to describe which ’problems’ (everybody likes our stuff and wants to have it) we’re confronted with. Don’t worry, we’ll find a solution.

Until then…

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