I shall write a long post to make up for the past 3 weeks that I haven’t written for.
DIP product launch and Recess week
DIP is long over but the effort that everyone had put in is still remembered. For those ALP students who were involved in DIP, the DIP product launch was quite significant since it marked the end of DIP and design thinking, as well as the arrival of the long-awaited recess week.
DIP product launch was a success and an impressive one. All the hard work put in by the ALP and DIP students were showcased to the large audiences. It was especially heartening to hear that there were people who loved my DIP’s idea and even wanted to buy our product.
My DIP team together with the Prof and TAs
For recess week, I mainly stayed in the school campus while others were out of Hangzhou to travel within China. The weather in Hangzhou was unpredictable and it rained on many days, which affected some of the plans I had for the recess week, but I managed to go to West Lake and Hefangjie.
CAMPUS Asia Design workshop
This week was an eventful week for me as I had the privilege to participate in the CAMPUS Asia Design Workshop conducted by Alibaba UED. It had been a great experience for me, meeting people with different nationalities and learning more about the Chinese culture too (My group consists of people from Korea, Japan, China, Indonesia and Singapore).
Tour in Alibaba Xixi Campus and ‘More Mall’ 亲橙里购物中心
As part of the 1programme, we went for a field trip to 亲橙里购物中心and Alibaba Xixi Campus.
The shopping center is Alibaba first ever offline shopping mall, which is equipped with many retail technologies. We were first brought around 盒马鲜生 supermarket. The most interesting part was the overhead grocery bag transportation system. From my understanding, the store receives online order, then the bag moves around the supermarket and the respective people at their station will put in the order accordingly. This would help to reduce manpower cost, since they would not need so many people to pick up the items. Another interesting thing was that the shelves have sensors that detect the movement of the shoppers, like how long we touch the item on the shelf, whether we put the items back etc. They can use this information to find out the consumers’ behaviour and provide recommendation for other consumers. The seafood in the mart is very fresh, as they are kept in tanks with controlled temperature and conditions, to ensure optimal freshness.
Other than the supermarket, we also toured around other shops in the mall. Other interesting technologies that I saw was the display screen that shows the product information when the shopper removes the item from the shelf, a machine in the clothing store which scans your face and allow you to adjust your body size to try out clothes virtually and other interactives to gamify offline shopping experiences.
Afterwards, we went into Alibaba Xixi Campus. It is called a ‘campus’ because the company is like a town/school, which is a place to stay, to eat, to work etc and one does not need to get out of the campus at all.
We went into an unmanned souvenir shop which requires us to scan our face and Taobao account to enter. There were many cameras on top of the shop, which apparently performs face recognition. When we exit, we had to scan our face again and the system automatically detects what you have purchased.
Many cameras on the ceiling, quite creepy…
We sadly did not have access to Alibaba’s working zone though I was interested in the working environment of the employees. However, I got to know from my group leader that although Alibaba has long working hours (typically 9am-9pm) and stressful working environment, many people still want to work there due to the attractive worker’s benefits. Also, Alibaba has long service gift for its employees for working for 1,3,5 years respectively and the fifth-year gift being a ring. From the board that I saw in Alibaba, ‘accepting the ring is a promise they make to themselves to keep strong regardless endless challenges and frustrated moments.’
Another interesting thing about Alibaba employees is that they all have a nickname, though I’m not sure of its purpose. They also have cool work pass in which the photo is a casual one and not the formal one (like a typical passport photo).
We were split into different themes and we had to propose a solution for the problem we have chosen. My group was under the theme ‘luxury retail’ and we decided to tackle luxury new retail – connecting online and offline shopping experience. We had to use design thinking skills that we have learnt before – scoping and redefining problems, creating user journey map etc. In the end, my group proposed a VIP service club, which uses big data to make online and offline shopping experience into a seamless one. I had my first try at creating UI (user interface) and also using the skills I learnt from the design fiction – shooting and video editing using premiere pro. My group’s progress was a pretty smooth one, with some language barrier which we mitigated through hand gestures and drawings.
On the last day, we went back to Alibaba Xixi Campus to give our final presentation. Many groups did an impressive work and had interesting ideas.
After each day
My group went for group dinner every day after the programme. My group leader brought us to eat various kinds of Chinese food, from beef hotpot (where I learnt that beef hotpot is one of the few famous hotpots that the Chinese eats), to Chinese porridge, 烧烤 and zichar style which was from his hometown.
We went to a restaurant near our dorm for dinner on the last day and sang K nearby. We booked 3 rooms and each room was singing songs of different language: Japanese, Korean/ Chinese, and English.
Our Korean friend made us do the finger heart sign
Need to go back to doing my theme task from now on till ALP ends.