Thinking about platforms in the retail-space ~ Sounds + Food 'n' Retail

Thinking about platforms in the retail-space

Last Sunday, I finally got around to watching the F8 Facebook developers-keynote, which was released in May this year (Thanks Jeremy). Similarly, this morning I got to read the transcript of Mark Zuckerberg's, the CEO of Facebook, keynote and Q&A on the Techcrunch40 event. Both made quite an impression to me, enough, I'm sure, to warrant a discussion (not started by me) on Tech IT Easy, I hope.

During F8, Mark presented Facebook as combination of three consideration for developers:
facebook platform.jpg

  • Deep Integration
  • Mass Distribution
  • New Opportunity

Ignoring the marketing-speak and the fact that Facebook is a software, there are many parallels to be found in successful retailing.

Deep Integration: Mark speaks of code, I speak of the source-code that a retail-outlet is made of, it's internal design, stock, packaging, marketing, etc. If you want to optimise the situation for both you and non-store brands, you should find a way to deeply integrate their products into your assortment, and adapt your marketing and design accordingly. There are subtle strategic considerations why this may not always be happening, mainly related to maintaining a power-balance between retailers and suppliers, but that is a conversation for another day.

Mass Distribution: This is based on both the number of visitors your store has and the number of outlets spread regionally, nationally, or worldwide. The more eyeballs you can offer third parties, the more attractive your store becomes to their presence.

New Opportunity: Mark speaks about revenue, offering application-developers the ability to integrate their own advertising and transaction-possibilities and to collect 100% of those returns. This would be very un-characteristic for "real-world" retailers, I would imagine. For one, their cost-structure is very different from Facebook. Renting out space to applications on Facebook is fairly cost-free, ignoring bandwidth, and would cost some real dollars in the real world.

In the software-world, there is the interesting concept of an API, an application programming interface. Facebook released one for its developers, and while they have the full freedom (within norms) to develop applications, there is still an underlying framework of how to build it and in what fashion to present it to users.

I'm just hypothesising, but this would be one way of integrating similar philosophies into food and retail places. Think about the way values are passed down to subsidiaries or franchises. By bringing a business to a level that much can be rationalised into training- and franchisee-manuals, you can apply similar thinking to 3rd-party's in-store activities.

One such example, at least it seemed that way, is a Naked Chef stand, which I came across in a Dutch department-store the other day.

naked chef quality label.jpg

As you can see on the picture above (I hope), the stand is located in the middle of the kitchen-section of the store. It features a combination of books by the naked chef, wines and other ingredients, and on the back, high quality cooking-utensils.

This is the kind of partnership that does well, I think, selling products from both parties in a symbiotic fashion.

The other big online retail-platform is of course eBay, and since I read The Perfect Store, perhaps I'll write more on that in the future.


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