Simple innovation & fear

I met a really smart person yesterday. It was a stand up conversation after a business breakfast seminar where like minds often gather to share a few ideas before parting ways. In this short time, it must have been less than 10 minutes, she managed to impart upon me two very innovative ideas that I immediately wanted to share on startup blog. They may not be new, but she put a certain spin on them and I’m yet to see them in market. A smart brand that actually cares would find a way to implement them.

1. The Full Supermarket Trolley:

Supermarkets should have an isle for their most valuable customers – those with full shopping trolleys. Instead what they have is specific isles for their least valuable customers – those with hand baskets. What supermarkets should have is a policy that says if your trolley is full – you never have to wait behind a person with one or two items or a hand basket. Maybe you press a button for the ‘golden trolley lane’ and someone comes from out the back to help you or something. Counter intuitive sure, but this is the type of thinking real marketers do, while engineers and logistics managers chase efficiency based on non customer metrics.  While it’s easy to argue that it is all too hard, and that there is no quick way to scan all the items of a full trolley, it really is just old world thinking getting in the way of actually caring. In the age of ‘self scanning’ checkouts, surely every person using a trolley could self scan their items with a mobile scanner as they place them in the trolley.

2. The 19 hour Hotel Room:

We check into hotels in order to have somewhere to sleep and it is expected that this is largely overnight. But in this day and age, why should it be? With hectic business travel and strange flight times, surely the period of stay should be up to the customer. So why don’t any 5 star hotels allow you to choose the 19 hours you need? It is because they are more concerned with the rostering of their cleaning staff than they are with their paying customers. The regular business hours or work day is yet another legacy relic based on a passed era. Surely the staff can be reorganized around the customers?

Both of these are simple innovations we are yet to see. Both are technically possible. Both would create interest and attention. Both would reward valuable customers. Both are yet to happen because of inertia and fear.

A funny thing about these innovations and fear, is that the person who shared them with me didn’t want me to link back to her in this post. I immediately told her that I wanted to share her ideas with my readers and give her the due credit, but she didn’t want it. When I asked her why, she mentioned that some of her clients where large supermarkets and she didn’t want to upset them or big note herself. She said I could blog away, take the ideas….. And while I can see her point, and respect her decision, I can’t help but think that the world (and maybe her business partners) are missing out on more of her wisdom because someone just might be offended.

Ironically, the same fear that stopped her ideas being implemented in hotels and supermarkets, is the fear she is suffering from. The fear of upsetting the status-quo for a minority, at the expense of making things better for the majority. In reality almost all innovations have a cohort of detractors, it’s just the way it is. We should push things forward regardless.

Startup blog says: Ideas need to be free and shared, and if our sentiment is positive, nothing should stop us.


Dubai Series: Hotel Sampling

Once you pass through the customs area in the Dubai International Airport they have a very interesting area reserved for Hotels as can be seen below.




The area has all of the 5 star hotels from the city represented. The general idea is that each hotel has a mini foyer with the exact styling and ambiance of the actual hotel. The mini foyer has Video footage of the hotel, details on menus and hotel services, samples of the haute couture fragrances in room and some even have masseurs for weary travelers to encourage / reward bookings. Concierge salespeople are there to explain the benefits and convert the sale. For those already booked they have a comfortable waiting location where they serve refreshments until the hotel driver arrives.

A simple idea, but one which makes sense for such a burgeoning metropolis and shows that even the oldest industries can innovate too.