2011.49 | December Retail Tech Links

Queuing  – This is always topical in discussions with retail clients, and something on which everyone has an opinion.  Check out this WSJ article on queuing and the various strategies retailers are using during the 2011 Christmas season to make the consumers’ wait more entertaining, faster, and productive – or at least enhance that perception.   I prefer a single to multiple queue myself.

Google Store – I was slow catching this one, but apparently Google opened up a Chromezone store in the UK; confusing the masses who thought their apps were free.  Apparently they are using it to push Chromebooks.   I guess they didn’t want to leave Apple and Microsoft to go it alone.  Can’t wait until Facebook starts opening stores – it’s the only natural progression.

Wantful – If you’re having a hard time picking Christmas gifts this year, here’s a tool to help you out.  Visit Wantful, answer a few questions about your giftee, and the site will provide 16 curated options.  They will deliver a custom printed book to deliver to your gift target.   They can then pick their favourite from the list and it will be shipped to them.

Boo.ly – While you’re finishing up your Christmas shopping, or searching for New Year’s deals, you can price check by using an add-on from Boo.ly with your browser. Boo.ly will provide information on competitive pricing, coupons and deals based on only your searches; whatever engine you may prefer.  One more challenge for retailers to navigate in the time of increasing price transparency.

Window Shopping Online – People like to window shop.  Amazon’s longtime Windowshop beta provides a slightly different online shopping experience, but TurnHills.com provides a more literal online window shopping experience, with actual photos of storefront windows of major brands.  In the same vein, Google has been talking about their Business Photos and integrating them with Google Streetview for some time.

2011.01 | Articles of Note

A few interesting retail based articles from over the holiday season:

  • I find the multiple to single queues found in banks and some retail stores to be my favourite, but not everyone sees it.   Consider why it seems you always pick the wrong line.
  • Square ships their payment at iPhone dongle and application.  Check out an unboxing.
  • Researchers at Cornell have put together a 3D food printer.  This could change food distribution for QSRs restaurants of all sorts in the future
  • While not overtly a retail technology, this iteration of the Cooper Mini App and its car integration certainly sets the stage for increasing integration between vehicles and retailers. Adding in the element of gaming to compare yourself with other drivers is a fascinating element as well.

2009.37 | More Solutions: Less Waiting

Nobody wants to wait in line – NCR’s buzzback survey for 2009 as well as those over the past few years provide numbers for the proof you don’t need as a consumer.

The recent article in the Wall Street Journal on waiting in line and the linked Numbers Guy blog post provide some interesting insight on single versus multiple line queueing and the impact of using one versus the other in a retail environment. In an attempt to address some of the shortcomings of single queues, JC Penney is testing a queueing solution provided by Lawrence to smooth front end throughput.


Table Top Media is attempting to implement table based self checkout at casual dining destinations like Chili’s and Applebee’s. Their system avoids the awkward wait between finishing your meal and attempting to get the bill by allowing access to the bill and payment directy at the table via a kiosk. It’s a great idea, but as a colleauge indicated, one has to wonder how one can tell who’s paying and who’s going to run out on the bill. Ideally there is security built in to the system to notify the servers and host staff whether a table has tendered or not.

Long a user of single queues, Best Buy has also started up BestBuy IdeaX. Much like MyStarbucksIdea discussed earlier on this blog, this solution allows consumer facing organizations an opportunity to obtain ‘free’ consulting – good or bad – as well as keep their finger on the pulse of what customers are feeling. The voting section reveals some interesting ideas NCR could assist with – electronic receiptscustomer service kiosks and more.

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