A Digital Hallmark For Online Jewellery Shoppers Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 Edinburgh Assay Office will launch the world’s first consumer online assurance scheme for jewellery – Assay Assured – today at Somerset House in London. Retailers already signed up to Assay Assured include: Links of London, Ortak, Monica Vinader and Clogau Gold. The hallmark is the oldest form of consumer protection and this announcement marks a significant moment in its history as the hallmark goes digital. Over the last five years the online sale of fake jewellery has seen a sharp rise with scam sites and rogue traders on auction sites springing up faster than they can be closed down. As shoppers cannot inspect the goods they buy online Assay Assured aims to offer the consumer protection against the risk of buying unhallmarked as well as counterfeit branded jewellery. While more and more people shop online, trust is still one of the biggest barriers to trade. Research by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has shown that shoppers are far more likely to shop from sites they know and trust rather than small independent sites or auction sites. It was the same lack of trust that first led to the introduction of hallmarking 700 years ago as a way to prove the precious metal content of an item. Scott Walter, CEO of Edinburgh Assay Office explains: “It is not possible to detect by sight or by touch the precious metal content of an item. UK Hallmarks have provided consumer protection for hundreds of years by guaranteeing the precious metal content in a piece of jewellery. Today online shoppers have no way of checking whether a piece of jewellery is hallmarked or not. Assay Assured is a digital solution to an ancient problem and we believe it will provide the protection consumers need online.” It is a legal requirement that all gold, silver, platinum and palladium jewellery sold in the UK must be hallmarked by one of four independent Assay Offices in Edinburgh, London, Sheffield and Birmingham. Precious metals are rarely used in their purest form but are alloyed with lesser metals to achieve the desired strength, durability and colour. Edinburgh Assay Office has been testing and hallmarking for 550 years. Today it is the fastest growing Assay Office in Europe, working with some of the world’s premier jewellery brands. Trustmarks are a well established solution to the issue of consumer trust online with research showing that consumers are more likely to buy from a site with a trust mark as Andy Mulcahy, of the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) explains: “Trust remains one of the key elements that determine whether a consumer will shop with an online retailer. The Assay Assured scheme will greatly improve confidence in jewellery sites by communicating to consumers that the retailer is compliant with a code of conduct that ensures the products advertised meet industry standards. Increasing trust in retail sites is particularly important at the moment as cross-border trade is really opening up, and making a purchase from a site based in another country is highly dependent on reassurance that the retailer is genuine and compliant with standards.” The Assay Assured scheme will be underpinned by a strict code of conduct for online jewellery sales, in compliance with the Hallmarking Act and also covering the sale of counterfeit branded jewellery. Before accrediting a site Assay Assured will first carry out an audit of the online retailer and their website. Only if they meet the requirements they will be asked to sign up to Assay Assured jewellery retailer’s agreement. The agreement will authorise the retailer to carry the Assay Assured jewellery retailer logo on their website. The logo will link directly to a unique secure certificate, which will confirm their authenticity as an Assay Assured retailer. Within the certificate the consumer will be able to link to a consumer focused landing page giving details about the scheme and UK hallmarking. Although consumers will, in the first instance be encouraged to report any queries relating to the code of conduct to the retailer, the certificate and the landing page will also allow consumers to report a query to Assay Assured about a product, should they fail to resolve their query with the retailer. Assay Assurance will provide an independent arbitration service for retailers and consumers if a product is suspected of being in breach of the code, if the dispute cannot first be resolved between the retailer and the consumer. To find out more about Assay Assured visit: www.assayassured.co.uk For more information contact Sarah Lee. Tags: Assay Assured, digital, online shopping, retail Posted in blog, news | Comments Off on A Digital Hallmark For Online Jewellery Shoppers Web App Allows People To Explore Eyewitness News Across Social Media Networks

iWitness, a revolutionary new web application for the aggregation of eyewitness news from social media platforms, launches today.  Developed by New Context in partnership with designers of the application, Adaptive Path, the free web app allows people to explore content from social media services such as Flickr and Twitter by time and place.

iWitness uses geolocation data shared by users to pinpoint the location where a post, photo, or video originated. It allows users to see content from a particular location in real time or by specifying a time range.  It is expected that this will be particularly valuable during emergencies when people look to share eyewitness news across social media channels.

Designed to be easy to use by anyone, if a user knows when and where something happened or is happening, iWitness will show first-person photos, videos, and messages from people there on the spot, integrating diverse media types in one interface.

The web app was beta tested live during development by the news desks of five US national and regional newspapers. Reporters used iWitness in their daily reporting – identifying what was useful, what was not and what else was needed.  New Context worked closely with Adaptive Path to synthesize that feedback and incorporate it into the design, adding new features and shaping the final design.

“iWitness could be one of the most important tools during a breaking news event. Newsrooms are always turning to Twitter to find initial reports from the scene of breaking news and iWitness lets you find those key tweets and photos,” said Sona Patel, social media producer for The Seattle Times.

iWitness was designed and built with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation after Adaptive Path submitted the idea for iWitness to the Knight News Challenge, an open competition for media innovation projects.

Adaptive Path brought New Context in to work on the project because of their track record in balancing the latest technologies with proven methodologies. New Context combines elements of extreme programming with behavior driven development to produce high quality, low defect output.

“New Context was an enormously valuable partner for us on this project,” said Jesse James Garrett, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Adaptive Path, and project lead for iWitness. “Their agile approach enabled us to quickly evolve the design of iWitness to best meet the needs of our users, and their technical savvy helped me realize my vision for the product.”

New Context developed iWitness as an open source application using Ember, a JavaScript framework.  This agile development process rapidly produces functionality with a minimum of waste.  Starting with a series of exercises New Context agreed the domain language, key concepts and features before turning the requirements into a discrete set of user stories.  Each user story representing a distinct requirement that could be understood or developed in isolation.

Mike Doel of New Context explains:  “This has been a fascinating project to work on and we are very excited to see how it will start to influence the news agendas and news reporting.  By using agile methods we have been able to work closely with Adaptive Path and the end user to ensure that iWitness does exactly what they need it to do.”

These agile methods follow short bursts of work that allow for rapid feedback and evaluation.  Developing in two week cycles or iterations at the end of the cycle New Context review the stories developed during the iteration before getting sign off from Adaptive Path.

New Context is an agile company specializing in rapid sustainable development of mobile and web applications.  Since its launch, New Context has specialized in the development of mobile and web applications for both startups and Fortune 500 companies.

Adaptive Path was one of the first design firms focused on user experience and over ten years has worked at the frontier of UX design, working with hundreds of organizations to define experiences for new products and services, strategically evolve existing ones and integrate experiences across channels.  Drawn to complex ambiguous challenges that defy known approaches and best practices.

For more information about the iWitness project, visit www.adaptivepath.com/iwitness.

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