Satellites – Skybox is a startup documented in a recent Wired magazine article that plans to get relatively cost effective satellites into space around the planet so that they can sell constantly images of the planet online. This represents an interesting opportunity for retailers. With updated data and solutions from companies like Remote Sensing Metrics, retailers can do more than just scout out sites for new locations. With constantly updated and date-stamped data it is possible to see how many cars are in the parking lot at your stores and those of competitors at certain times of day. Sales data shows people who bought from you. Door counting solutions count how many people came into the store. Why not see if traffic is translating into results?
Car Apps – Omnichannel will become increasingly real and more complex as car makers like GM and others begin to offer apps for cars. What if an app that runs on your car could remind you of your shopping list as you pass your favourite grocer? What if your GPS can suggest a shopping stop to wait out a traffic jam? What if your spouse’s shopping list with exact items and prices, could be transferred to a store on your way home and per-order your basket for pickup?
All of these concepts represent real opportunities made possible with car apps (or smartphone apps that play nice with cars) as well as an Omnichannel infrastructure. Retailers that can quickly release apps to take advantage of these technological advances could gain some advantage if the solution suits their demographic. The greatest challenge will be bending infrastructure to accommodate these advances in the coming years.
Makers – Chris Anderson’s latest book provides an in depth look into the world of makers – a new generation of tinkerers with access to ever cheaper and more sophisticated tools and materials. The book is definitely worth a read to expose yourself to this culture.
A few of my favourite items touched on in the book:
- 123D is a set of apps from autodesk that have a make menu that has the equivalent of a print button to print out physical objects with a 3d printer. 123D catch allows you to print a physical object from a photo.
- Quirky – A social development website that helps inventors get their ideas out there.
- Experiments with IKEA furniture indicate that when people help build their creations they bid 67% more for their own creations. Some potential differentation for vendors and retailers. (Chapter 5: The Long Tail of Things)
- Digital fabrication makes it possible to make niche products in small batches in nearly the same quality as big fabricators. Makes 3D printing and the like seem something worthy of attention. (Chapter 6: The Tools of Transformation)
This doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the material covered. It’s a great book to change the way you think of manufacturing and how things get made.