Thursday, August 19, 2004

It is still about identity

Even though I have shifted industries (slightly) a lot of the big issues are still around identity. Now I am dealing with consumer identity rather than service interface or corporate identity. The issue now is really around tying multiple identities together to create a whole person.

As a consumer I have several identities that are not necessarily connected, I have a physical identity, I have a web identity and in a store I have another identity, which can be specific if I use a credit card or anonymous if I use cash.

The trick we are solving at InStorecard is to bring all the identities together into a single usable solution to retail loyalty and CRM

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

What is a good loyalty program

A key part of our business is delivering programs (as a service) to merchants that enable them to provide better service to consumers and hence encourage them to use the merchants services more. Thinking through what makes a good experience for the consumer is critical. Too many merchants treat personalization as pasting a users name on a standard piece of collateral. This is still mass merchandising, to reach the goal of speaking to each consumer as a unique individual with unique needs requires a lot more than that.

I draw a lot from my formative years when I worked in my family's retail stores. There the staff knew almost every customer by name, there shopping history and something about them and worked to make the shopping experience positive. To translate this to the modern world there are three things a good program does for the consumer:

  1. Speaks to individual users differently and in a way they resonate with

  2. Makes the users life easier in some way.

  3. Provides clear reciprocal value for the personal information delivered.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

New Venture

A few weeks ago I started at a new venture InStorecard as CTO. It is a pretty recent startup in a very interesting space (retail). One of the big things that attracted me (apart from a great team and a founder who I have known for 10 years) was that they were building a valuable business offering as a service to deliver to customers.

There is nothing like building something for real customers to help decide what is really necessary for customers and what is good only from a computer science POV. The good news is that the retail industry is making big strides towards XML, but less towards web services, even though they are aware and interested. In general they are very pragmatic, I should know as my family has been in retail for a long time - my grandfather started our first store just after WW I!

The pragmatists in the retail industry are quickly seeing the advantages of software as a service and XML as they need to get things done quickly and efficiently as margins are critical. This is a great place to be and I am looking forward to the next several years.