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Sunday
Sep052010

5 Year Update -- "Things I Want"

Five years ago to the day, I wrote a post on my blog, called “Things I Want”. It was a technology-centric vision of everyday things, rooted in a bit of reality, but mostly wishful thinking. I thought it would be fun, on the 5th year anniversary of that post, to see how things have materialized.

I want my dry-cleaner’s to barcode all the clothes I send them, and scan it in every time it comes in. Eventually, I’ll have an online repository of all my suits and shirts, and information on when I bought them, and how often they’ve been cleaned. I can add notes on special care for individual garments on the secure page provided by the dry cleaner, and as a result, will not go anywhere else, ever again, for my cleaning. If I move, a consortium of cleaners could have access to my data, and I’d only want to move within that network, because I don’t want to lose the information on all my clothes and their care.

Sadly, the dry cleaning industry had done nothing to consolidate, or create this incredibly useful service on a national level. As I think about this again, I think in fact the service itself could be a data subscription system that multiple dry-cleaners could tap into. That way, when I move and have to change dry cleaners, I can still carry over my profile, preferences and other useful information to the new shop. All the system would need to do is tap into (or create APIs or) the few standardized dry-cleaning software packages that exist, and I suspect that over 60% of good establishments woud end up being covered.

I want Starbucks to mine its cash card transactional data and create a premier-customer line between 8:00am and 10:00am for high value customers, in select stores, reducing the wait time for these customers to get their coffee. Value could be determined by a combination of frequency, longevity and margin (some drinks make more money than others.) This will increase sales of the cash cards, where they’ll get better margins because of breakage, and it’ll push morning traffic to stores that can handle them better. Of course, all of this has to be done under some kind of new Starbucks loyalty program umbrella, and have other benefits as well. I’d recommend creating a program construct with only a few national benefits, like the coffee premier-customer lane. The rest of the benefits should be administered at the local store level, with benefits coming from neighborhood vendors who want to share in Starbucks’ traffic.

Well, it’s called MyStarubucks Rewards. And while they didn’t implement the “Fast Lane” concept, it’s a pretty healthy loyalty program, and it looks like the heavy local personlization I was asking for is available at their “Gold” level.

I want my local home improvement retailer to start a replenishment program so that I don’t have to go buy lightbulbs or filters anymore. I want a subscription to my every-week home necessities. Come to think of it, they could also send things like garbage bags, disinfectants, laundry detergent and toilet cleaner. I want to be able to manage my subscriptions online, and turn them off when I go on vacation. And when I move, I want to be able to go to my local home improvement retailer, punch in my new address into a kiosk, and have it spit out data on how often the house needed replacement bulbs, filters and other essentials.

I tried to get this implemented at The Home Depot for a whole year, but it never took — in all fairness, there were bigger fish to fry. I still think this could be a huge “auto-commerce” idea for trusted companies that deal with homeowners.

I want my wireless carrier to have a push-button option that allows me to upload all my phone numbers to some secure network location that they host. That way, if I ever lose my phone, (and I don’t backup my phone numbers to my computer,) I can use a simple push button with the same provider to download my numbers again. I’d pay for this service, but if I were my phone company, I’d give it to me for free—because with all my 600+ numbers stored securely on their network, I’m not going anywhere.

I have two words for you: Mobile Me. I pay for this service, too.

So, looking back — not a lot of progress on my things for the future. In reality, we’re not that far ahead from a commerce standpoint than we were in 2005. The past five years have all been about the growth of the social engine. The use of the cloud. Micro content. e-Commerce has taken a back seat, but I think that’s because companies stopped focusing on it. We’ve hired 200,000 new “social media managers” and haven’t paid enough attention to the basics — commerce.

Hey, at least I got one thing that I wanted. And look who gave it to me — Apple.

 

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Reader Comments (8)

So, very interesting Dry Cleaning request. Most dry cleaners are closed minded and would never share such information so that you could move or change dry cleaners easily. Oh well.

However, we do bar-code each item separately using pseudo permanent heat seals. We can add notes to each garment for specific care instructions. We also track first time checked in and how many times it's been cleaned. The other information connected with this barcode includes garment type, color, pattern, size, etc. API coding would be a little difficult due to where the server resides but it could be done. I would also gladly print out the detailed list if a customer requested.

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