Magazine article Information Today

Money Is Funny, but We're Not Laughing

Magazine article Information Today

Money Is Funny, but We're Not Laughing

Article excerpt

Many moons ago when the web was still in its infancy, I pitched an idea to a man with money about a service I thought would appeal to the millions of users already starting to use the new marketplace to make purchase decisions. My idea was to scan the web for any and all discount offers. Looking back, it was a great idea (ahem, you were surprised?), but probably, neither I nor even my colleague could have done this in time to stop Amazon from becoming the first aisle where customers started their shopping experience.

Recently, I was editing a NewsBreak for the Infotoday.com website when my colleague Paula Hane, news bureau chief at ITI, was on vacation. The news story covered recent expansions of Google Wallet and Apple Passbook's micropayments. It focused on the usefulness of these payment mechanisms in the explosively growing mobile computing environment. For tasks that inspire human ingenuity, extracting money ranks at the top. The only other contender might be food preparation. And though there is an old saying, "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door," that would only be the world of exterminators. To meet everyone from Azerbaijan to Zaire, build a better cash register.

One of the side effects of improving mobile payment schemes may not be so desirable for the brick-and-mortar establishments where Google and Apple and others are trying to install appropriate equipment. A company where I used to work offered a nice service to its employees. It had business cards from car dealerships throughout the county willing to offer fleet car discounts to the company's employees for individual car purchases. So staffers went to local car dealerships to kick some tires, pick up brochures, interview salespeople, take test-drives, and so on. Then, having decided on the car, the features, the color, and other frills, you grabbed the business card of a fleet car manager at a dealership miles and miles away and scheduled an appointment to sign a contract.

Vying for Customers

Mobile purchasing processes could turn every brick-and-mortar store into a demonstration service. If those stores and their sales staff members are lucky, the shopper armed with a smartphone will at least offer them the chance to negotiate down to the better price found online. …

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