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I won’t stop TILL I’ve got them all: Collect UK highstreet technology before it all disappears!

It’s always great to read about someone that openly flaunts their own obsessive behaviours to the global media. Kind of puts my own idiosyncrasies into the “nothing-to-be-ashamed-of” box. But something about the article “I won’t stop TILL I’ve got them all: The collector who photographs UK’s cash registers” (Yahoo! News – Fri 30th November) resonated with me.

I also spend many years growing up close to one of IBM’s signature buildings, but this one was based just on the outskirts of Portsmouth, at their North Harbour site. I always saw this behemoth site as an architectural masterpiece and it was one of the reasons I wanted to design and work so closely with technology.

Getting back to the article and as a brief summary, Leila Johnston grew up near IBM’s Scottish plant in Inverclyde, which sparked her interest in everyday life technology. Nowadays she is a technology writer who has regular columns for the likes of WIRED UK and BBC Comedy. She also has the somewhat unusual hobby of photographing and geo-tagging cash tills (cash registers for our American brethren) specifically IBM tills.

Intrigued by her hobby I visited her site, where she has already posted a newsflash pertaining to the article, effectively saying that she was not a fanatic, and that the article contained some incorrect details. But all this aside it got me thinking…

In this modern world, where the bustling high-streets have been replaced by the dusty tumble-weed towns of “Westworld” how easy will it be to find treasures such as the IBM till. As more shopping is moved online and Ecommerce continues to replace the traditional shopping experience and its accompanying paraphernalia where does that leave people like Leila, who have nostalgic links to these everyday technology masterpieces?

I recently witnessed the fall of another iconic UK retail establishment by popping along to my local Comet (RIP) that was in the midst of its closing down sale, and as I stood outside I had a genuine feeling of sadness. This feeling was quickly replaced by disgust as I entered through the door and into the frenzy that I can only describe as circling vultures above beaten and battered carcasses! How different a store looks when it’s stripped of its glory and honour by a raging horde of tech pirates. But my question is what happens to this treasure as these establishments diminish? Can we expect to find fossilised tech in several thousand years? Will the next evolution of the Indiana Jones character actually be set in the future spending his time dodging ion blasts from mechanised villains whilst hunting desperately for the “Golden Till”.

Jesting aside, things change, technology improves and remoulds the experience. Do I really think the high-street is dead? The answer plain and simply is no, but it will need to change. The experience needs constant innovation to ensure that it progresses. Here at Sparkstone we create storefronts and back-office systems for online shopping, and a range of epos and sales order processing systems for offline stores, but in both types of project we ensure that the customer journey and experience is carefully crafted.

One comment on “I won’t stop TILL I’ve got them all: Collect UK highstreet technology before it all disappears!

  1. Laura Williams
    December 11, 2012

    Great article, I too was very upset to see the demise of the tech chain that played such a prominent part in my youth. I agree that developing innovative solutions is imperative for retailers wanting to keep ‘streets ahead’ of the ecommerce giants.

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This entry was posted on December 7, 2012 by in ecommerce, epos, High street retail and tagged , , .

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