Twitter Revisited – I referenced Twitter back in week 2 as an emerging trend for retailers and it only keeps growing. I finally opened a twitter account myself, just to see what the hype was about. I’m not sure if it will be a big deal in the long run or not, but I certainly see the potential from many articles. Here’s the gist in my mind: the individual tweets don’t mean much; they’re quite often garbage in fact, but searching on the aggregate may just be the next wave of web 2.0. Twitter can provide timely personal product research and reviews, it can tell you what people are talking about at any given time, it can provide a window into world events before the news, it can even be a way to strengthen the brand and enhance the multi-channel experience.
Kindle 2 – Amazon released their new version of the Kindle e-book reader this week. For the unitiated, the kindle is a very compact device that allows for electronic books to be downloaded directly over cellular to the unit in 60 seconds or less. It can hold hundreds of books, and can access newspapers and blogs. It uses e-ink electronic paper display to make it appear more like a book. There are no monthly fees for the access to the network, but you have to buy your books from Amazon (it will read other formats, but for over the air you are stuck with Amazon). Books are available more cheaply than the paper versions. The unit will convert the books to speech and read them to you over headphones, which has copyright people scratching their heads. Basically, Amazon have targeted an iTunes/iPod like setup for books and other media, and have improved on it slightly with their new solution. It remains to be seen if the book people have the same wonderful foresight as the music and movie industries around electronic content distribution. As always, technology is not holding back innovation. Money, fear and the status quo hold back innovation.
Kill POS – The more I go through stores, the more I wonder why we haven’t been able to kill the traditional POS. By that I mean the unfortunately disinterested associate who stands behind the counter and tries to ignore me as I wave my product and payment at them. I see instances of that occuring today – I buy music from iTunes or other online stores, I use selfcheckout when it is available, and these are great steps – but I look forward to it going further.
For example, I go to the Apple Store to buy an Airport Express to hook my pc to my stereo. A ‘Genius’ – I’ll use that loosely, but hey – that’s what Apple calls them – comes over and engages me in a discussion of the product and what I might like to do with it. He answers my question on cable requirements, we discuss iphone apps, technology trends and the like, and I decide to buy the unit. He pulls out his wireless unit, scans the product, swipes my card and asks me how I would like my receipt. I tell him to email it, and he does. No bag required thanks. We exchange pleasantries and I leave. That wasn’t a task – I enjoyed it. I was engaged by a person who had a shared interest, and we completed the transaction like we were buddies on the street. The transaction extends my loyalty of the brand to a personal relationship. It’s definitely not for every retail environment, but it’s a goal.