Welcome to Part 2 in our mini-series on Recontextualizing Contextual Commerce. If you missed last week’s program, please take this opportunity to review the points previously covered . This week we’ll be looking at Me-commerce, Lists, and the Local Store.
Me-commerce implies three things; Location, Time of Day and Identity.
“Physical Location” consists in offering services based on where you are. This subtle, yet powerful change of reference point, from situation to location, provides a starting point for the development of a slew of new services.
This includes your house recognizing you when you arrive, printing out whatever at the printer beside you -even though it is not your office or walking in front of a restaurant and getting a message with the daily lunch special.
“Time of Day” offers could be an alert that tells you there has been an accident on your normal route home- before you leave work- and that you won’t be getting home on time. That is always convenient.
“Who You Are” services are based on your identity. This is related to a set of personal preferences that allows services to adapt themselves to you. It would be really convenient if I could receive offers at my favorite department store just by them knowing who I am and what I buy. “Jason, our rewritable CD’s are 97% off today”. Perfect.
There seem to be a few pre-requisites for these types of head-spinning services: 1. That I, the user, have some type of wireless device 2. That there is some type of filtering software allowing me to control the amount of information the environment receives and 3. That I can choose whether or not to be “seen” by the services.
If You Don’t list, You Don’t Exist
What about the companies? There needs to be some type of directory or listing service to serve as a “meeting” point for companies and potential customers. This is the market maker arena; where my request is met with an offer (whether that request is for lunch, a movie or a gas station). With this type of system, a company that is not on the list, simply does not “exist”.
The Yellow Pages online provides a home-based version of this list service. You log on, type in your city and zip code and then search for GREENHOUSE. Voila. You have a list of greenhouses in your neighborhood to choose from. Fortunately for you, you have lived in your neighborhood for 15 years, and you know the closest greenhouse is two streets behind you. Curiously, this greenhouse is not on the list. The closest greenhouse listed is three streets over. If you didn’t know there was one behind you from experience, the other store would get your business. They understood that if you don’t list, you don’t exist. Step 3 in understanding the changes in store for us.
What happens if you are a stranger in a strange land? Let’s say you are on vacation in New York. VINDIGO (http://www.vindigo.com) provides a nice guide for everything from restaurants to movies to tourist attractions as well as a map to get you there if you are not familiar with the city. This guide works for hungry New Yorkers as well as tourists.
Applying the formula Customers x Products = Earnings to Vindigo’s service it is easy to see the incentive for increasing Customers (C) over increasing the number of products sold (like batteries for that digital camera). Increasing C implies be visible, being on the radar- being on the list. Which list? That’s up in the air. There are multiple services like Vindigo. Until the wireless service market consolidates, “which list?” will be a difficult question for both companies and customers.
The Return of the Local Store
What types of services and products fit the bill in this re-worked, me-commerce world? The first thing that comes to mind is simple services like the ones listed above: Restaurants, Movies and Service Stations.
These are Location services. Based on my Location, I want to know what is near me. It is completely worthless to know that there is a Sushi Bar on Avery Blvd. in Jackson, MS when I am standing on Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona. I need to know what is within walking or driving distance from me. Right now.
The same applies for CDs or TVs. True, you can purchase a CD from Amazon for 15% off, pay the shipping and have the disk tomorrow. Or maybe the record store down the street has it on sale this week and I can have it in 20 minutes for $2 more than buying it at Amazon.
These are Optimized Services. They help determine efficiency- what is that best way for me to get the product I want. These services are like shopping agents: think My Simon on steroids. This takes into account how close the product or service is to me, not necessarily if it is the cheapest product- which is what My Simon does best.
In a recent study by Arthur Andersen , many 3G companies may get cut out of a revenue source by Bluetooth technology. This is because many of the high value services are located at the local level- within several minutes of walking.
With mobile devices growing in usage everyday, by re-orienting commerce from what the user is looking at to where the user is we can better serve their needs. If we concern ourselves with where customers are, we may be more successful at getting them in the store in the first place.
Unitl next time- Happy Shopping!