2009.31 | “Post-Brand” Brand

The strength of brand is always touted as the key to success, and it’s quite often right. Where it gets interesting is when a brand gets so huge and saturates the market so much that the corporate strategy turns towards the brand.

In an interesting twist, Radio Shack has been playing with a new concept store called PointMobl in a few US markets that appears to look like a smaller organization (down to the spelling errors on the web page – they may be good listenters, but not good spellers). Starbucks got into the game as well recently, opening 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea, a store that looks more like a neighbourhood coffee house. What a great plan to steal away business from other coffee houses that cater to the anti-Starbucks crowd! It is reminiscent of the the grocery business with infinite banners across the street from each other unbeknownst to the bulk of consumers.

It would be interesting to see one of these small banner startups try some new technology strategies to allow these stores with a neighbourhood feel to behave like neighbourhood stores from years past – establishing a one to one relationship with a local business that isn’t.

2009.17 | Convenience | DVD Landscape | Mobile POS

Taking the Store to Customers – Convenience has ever been important to consumer facing businesses, and there are many new and different ways that these organizations are trying to make their products and services more convenient for consumers to obtain.

The primary inconvenience of purchasing food from a mobile vendor is the difficulty of knowing where they are. Kogi Korean BBQ, a taco truck in LA, lets their customers keep track of their location via Twitter – taking uncertainty out of the mix.

Starbucks is looking to place coffee vending machines across North America that leverage electronic payment – including contactless – avoiding the necessity for having coins or small bills at the ready.

Coinstar is already doing very well with Redbox DVD rental machines. They add additional convenience by providing a reloadable credit card solution – a gap filler for those who wish to rent and don’t have a credit card. This should sound familiar, as this solution is available on an NCR platform used by Readycredit. These would be well placed next to NCR SelfServ Entertainment units.

The Changing DVD Landscape – The DVD rental industry is becoming increasingly complicated, with ever changing players, formats and scenarios. While the cheap DVD rental is a boon for the consumer, there are complications, as it represents a paradigm change for studios and consumers alike. Whatever the issues, expect them to be resolved, and this business to continue its growth for the next few years at the very least.

Mobile POS – I’ve already expressed my admiration for the handheld POS units used in Apple Stores. Now it looks like they might be taking the expected step of moving from their current Windows Based platform to an iPhone based solution with the soon to be released iPhone 3.0 software which allows improved connectivity and interoperability for hardware add-ons. This is key, as swiping a card is much faster than typing in a number, and EMV will require dip card readers in many countries.

While this platform doesn’t suit every environment, look for mobile based payment systems to act as the small business POS of the future. You can already download some from the iPhone app store today.

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