Giants Battle Over Physical Presence.


As Amazon and Walmart go head to head in an arms race to win over the consumer direct market, we are seeing a high stakes game of trial and error play out right in front of our eyes. Good news is they are focused on consumer value propositions and enriching them through convenience and simplicity….at the heart of the consumer today.

This week, Walmart’s announced it will trial a brick and mortar grocery play to see how consumer react to a food retail concept store.’s value proposition is the delivery of fresh produce right to your door without the need to even be home to receive it.

Walmart acquired the Jet brand as an accelerator for competing directly with Amazon’s Fresh grocery play and pickup services. All of which can and will be used to extend Walmart’s digital footprint where they have invested heavily in online ordering, store based pick up and new partnerships with Uber and Lyft for home deliveries.

Big Data Meets Bike Pedals


Big data comes in many forms and continues to solidify its place as the world’s most precious resource. It is being gathered in virtually every digitized experience…including the growing bike rental economy in China.

Mobike, China’s next promising unicorn, is looking to map how you enjoy your leisure time on bicycles. With a new investment round totaling $300M USD, Mobike is quickly looking to expand its fleet and charge riders a nominal rental fee for access to what they do and when they do it.

They have recently unlocked a number of insights about behavior shifts on holidays and weekends and can use this data to predict where people will ride and generally at what time of day, with whom and how far….think local marketing in real time.

They can even map users as the y migrate from city to city in the region and their pedal behavior. They are taking all of this information and building a scalable Artificial Intelligence play that could scale to the likes of Uber like status.



Starbucks Goes Mobile Only For The Entire Experience.


Starbuck’s is taking the next step in its journey to becoming the world’s best consumer driven, digitally advanced beverage company in the world.

Next week, their flagship café in Seattle will begin testing a mobile only concept…meaning you will only be able to order using the app. The experience will move from the traditional cattle corral approach to ordering to a streamlined pickup window model, greatly reducing the need for retail space and potentially enabling higher through put, given the efficiencies in mobile payments. You simply pick location, choose your selections and pay….the app will tell you where to pick up your order and when it should be ready…so no more waiting.

You can imagine how this type of business shift will enable Starbucks to drive more efficient supply lines, automate coffee production and reduce wait times and overcrowding (a nice problem to have)

Car Repair Made Easy – It Happens In Your Own Driveway


Here’s an interesting new business focused removing the hassle and annoyance  of auto repairs. Getting your car evaluated and fixed is time consuming and somewhat unnerving if you have an older vehicle which no longer is covered by warranties, etc.

Wrench, a Seattle based startup, is looking to radically change that model with the introduction of a home service delivery model. Wrench is a mobile based experience that allows consumers to book tune ups, schedule repairs (reasonable ones) and or refers you to an approved network of partners for more in depth needs (e.g. transmission, exhaust.) They are also rolling out a subscription model for regular maintenance.

With 17.5 Million cars purchased last year alone, there is a steady stream of repairs to be made for decades to come. And it’s a huge pain point for owners (think managing supply & demand a la Uber.) Wrench will control the owner experience, the service quality assurance and provide guaranteed satisfaction before paying the bill.

As consumers move to self-driving vehicles…they will need repair to so Wrench could have a sustainable position for years to come.

Solving The Last Mile Brings Kroger & Uber Together.


Consumer ddownload (1)emand for convenience, simplicity and speed have become mainstream and companies are seeking to reinvent themselves to remain relevant themselves. This is happening through massive investments and partnerships of unlikely parties.

Kroger, this week, announced it is piloting a home delivery model with none other than Uber. Kroger determined that a traditional fleet own delivery model would be capital intensive and not support and more on demand world, so they have looked to Uber in select markets to play the pick and deliver role…without the need for an investment.   They already have enable ~640 locations to support order ahead and online shopping, now they solve for the last mile.

Expect to see partnerships like this becoming more main stream as local retailers struggle to remain self-sufficient in the face of larger players who can solve all of the needs of consumers.



Unmanned Retail Stores Could Change The Shopping Experience Forever


As we have seen the emergence of Amazon’s grocery play (Amazon Go) start to materialize, the notion of unmanned retail experiences seems to be building steam. As small startup known as Wheelys is looking to build on a number of successful retail experiences by bringing and completely unmanned retail concept to life in Shanghai.

Named Wheelys 247, the small retail outlets will begin selling common goods (cigarettes, chips and chocolates) around the lock using a mobile application and cloud based payment solution. Customers simply scan, pay and go. Fraud is managed by having to use the mobile app to enter the facility, plus a couple of cameras here and there. Still it’s a quick, painless and innovative way to grab things on the go. They will be making the technology widely available and they are a platform play, not a retail chain or franchise company.

What’s break through here is that they (and their technology) essentially helps anyone become a store owner, without having to actually manage a store. Yes an occasional stocking of items will be necessary, but even that too could be outsourced. Imagine a world where popular brands (e.g. beverage companies) open outlets to help sell product through a true branded retail experience. Could be right around the corner at a mall near you.

Mobile Payments Goes Mainstream In India

It appears the government continues to push for advancing India’s banking and commerce industries with the launch of it’s latest QR based mobile payments solution. As you know, India has long been reliant upon a cash based society and has been making a number of changes to the system to help migrate more transactions to digital. IndiaQR is an example of the latest attempt to bring mainstream consumer value propositions to the country.
Concept is not new, nor truly a breakthrough, but does show how fundamental technologies can be re-purposed. IndiaQR lets consumers connect bank account information to a unique QR code that they present at POS. Store owners can either scan using a POS scanner or now simply use and app and scanner on their own phone to collect funds instantly.  It is rumored that the solution was built by the global payment networks (Visa and Mastercard) and RuePay.

Significant investments are being made to establish a merchant acquiring network in India that will enable all sorts of next generation end to end payment solutions. These investments are being made by private companies looking to move people quickly to digital payments and then begin to monetize them.

It’s not hard to imagine a world that will enable consumers to simply scan codes when paying each other, paying merchants and or collecting funds in a B2B capacity.