New Summer Tech Rolls On

Stylish Shopify card-readers, AR wild animals and cool garments for ladies who code – this week’s [retail bytes] dives into summer 2017 and its fabulous new techy trends. Who needs exotic holidays when you can see a baby elephant in the comfort of your own home?

Disney Magic 2.0: A few mojitos too many and you’re likely to see a pink elephant or two. Now you can really meet one! ‘Magic bench’, a delightful Augmented Reality experience from Disney, lets you share a wooden bench with a virtual baby elephant or a dancing giraffe with an umbrella. The kick is that unlike your usual Saturday night, you’ll not be the only one seeing dancing elephants! Disney is creating a setup where your friends on the bench can see the same AR creatures and share the illusion. For a shop setup, your group would then  be able to see virtual clothes visualised, without having to pick them from the hangers or stockroom. Just snap your fingers and the objects will pop out right at the bench, and quietly sit next to yours. AR has arrived.

Needle in the eBay haystack: Finding anything useful on eBay is like trying to find a needle in a haystack of 1.1bn items in the world’s biggest marketplace. However, a new, picture-based visual product search has been created to replace word-based searching. From September you’ll be able to upload an image of what you’re looking for and let the Visual Recognition algorithms find something similar near you. This is perfect for fashion, lingerie or fantasy figures, as typing text into the search box is only successful if you know exactly what you need. We recommend that Facebook Marketplace use this as well, as at the moment an originally good idea for a shared FB trading zone is sliding into a goulash of unwanted backyard clearance stuff with no tags on them. Come on FB people: surely you can afford a Convolutional Neural Network or two to help us find just the right Jimmy Choo pre-loved bag?

Wear a cloak of mystery for your Google search: 63.9% of the search engine market is firmly owned by Google, but the remaining 36.1% is split between Bing (about 15%) and a bunch of smaller companies that offer very specialised products. DuckDuckGo is the search engine to use if you need privacy and find Google’s snooping just too invasive. does not censor results (you have been warned), while is so pro-privacy that it doesn’t even store cookies and your IP is never recorded. You can set preferences to allow some personalisation of searches but they will be wiped out in 90 days. It’s bliss for the customers who are increasingly sick of the in-your-face-nosy-parker Google. Be brave and go beyond Google: it’s liberating!

For ladies who code: If mystery is what you’re after, (odd name for us Brits!) has a fashion collection that lets you wear your software code work on your body. Working on some JavaScript? It makes a lovely pattern on a pencil skirt or yoga pants and makes a break from the usual floral prints. Keep Calm and Code On is also a good Women In Tech Tee option from Zazzle, just the garment to sport on your last week before your new e-commerce platform goes live!

Swipe in style: Setting up a pop-up? You’ll need a swipe card reader, and one which is preferably rugged and good-looking, as it is customer-facing equipment after all. The new swipe reader from Shopify ticks all the boxes and has gotten a good reception from the London pop-up brigade. It was a good move to include all third-party payments, which makes life easier, as well as instant stock updates with each product sale. We’re impressed.