Thanks for interesting post Priscilla! Although I think incorporating VR into Alibaba’s platform is exciting and certainly the next frontier in online shopping, I’m a little doubtful it will scale well, especially in China, where it’s likely going to take a very long time for the technology to become affordable enough for the average consumer to get a hold of it.
In addition, I’m still a little unclear as to how VR will translate to increased sales. It’s possible I’m misunderstanding how VR works in this context, but I think at this stage it is only increasing the complexity of an online purchase by having a VR element and then going online to actually submit an order + payment. While I can see the appeal of creating a virtual shopping experience, to Gabi’s point, I think the VR will have trouble actually simulating fit, which then just makes the process a lot more cumbersome and time consuming for little reward.
Cool article! One thought I had while reading was that even though it seems clear that driverless cars can make certain driving decisions better than humans, are we making driving less safe by removing the need for human oversight while operating the vehicle? Collisions aside, there are many instances whereby a mechanical failure in the car requires a quick response from the driver to try to mitigate the issue, especially when driving on a freeway or busy road. My concern with the technology is that the car, given it will be new, won’t have “experience” managing a technical failure which could make the drive overall less safe.
In addition, and building off of KR’s point, do you know what Tesla and others are doing from a regulatory standpoint to ensure driverless cars are going to be accepted? This seems to be an area where the insurance lobby could have a lot of influence over the government’s decision on the legality of this technology.
Great post! One thing I was wondering while reading this was in what way Sephora was tracking and assessing the “ROI” of investment in some of these apps and digital platforms. While the Pocket Contour app seems like a game changer, I am a little bit more skeptical of the Beacon app and people looking at their smartphones in stores to find reviews, given so many purchases seem premeditated.
In addition, following up on Nik’s point above, I actually think the retail stores will continue to play an important role for Sephora’s business because I think it’s been an important factor in building brand equity and a loyal customer base. That said, given they’ve achieved such incredible growth to date, a successful digital presence could be the next frontier to increase their topline revenues.
Interesting post! While I agree with you that Venmo has become a fun social app, I think Venmo may still face larger competitive pressures than noted here. Square Cash gets around the network benefits of being on Venmo, by allowing customers to split bills with folks that aren’t on the platform http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304536104579558071421978060, and Zelle, the bank’s answer to Venmo could claw back some customers if it’s viewed as being more secure or easier to manage because it’s already linked to a customer’s bank account. For me then, if Venmo wants to stay relevant it should not only pursue global transactions as you mention above, but also start finding ways to advance the platform, such as offering analytics on a customer’s transaction history. (e.g. 45% food, 10% clothing, etc.)
Dimitris, while I agree with your post that Barnes & Noble’s best bet is to pursue a complementary strategy of brick and mortar and e-commerce, which do you think will be most important in actually driving increased revenues? I have seen that some of the store innovation centers around bringing booze into stores (http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/24/investing/barnes-and-noble-beer-wine-alcohol-booze/), but I’m struggling to see how serving alcohol will translate into increased sales vs. turning the store into a library that serves drinks. To that end, I think innovating on their digital strategy will be much more important in actually improving their bottom line. Building on Ahmad’s point about creating a community of readers, I think tracking core customer purchasing behaviors using big data analytics could do a lot for the business in terms of identifying the drivers/conditions of book purchases. For example, I could see a world where if core customers purchased books whenever there are new releases, negotiating deals with book publishers that give these loyal, core customers advanced access to new releases could be one way to create value in a differentiated way from Amazon.
Super interesting article about the opportunities for municipalities to manage storm flooding. One question I had was related to the capacity of these systems to really mitigate the effects of freak storms. The images coming out of Katrina or even the most recent flood Louisiana make it seem like even substantial investments in infrastructure would not be enough to contain the scale of impact of some of these storms. Do you see some of these new technologies as being useful in areas that are prone to such severe weather phenomena? Are there other low cost solutions that can be pursued in places like Louisiana?
Thanks for the interesting post! True to Stella’s quote, I had no idea so many of her products were vegan or sustainably sourced. I found it strange and somewhat contradictory that Stella would be willing to do a public campaign with PETA, but wanted to hide the sustainability / environmental friendliness of her product. What do you think it will take for Stella to come out more publicly about the sustainability of her products? is it a matter of eco-consciousness becoming more mainstream or do you think there is too much risk to her branding?
It’s great to see massive home goods companies like Whirlpool taking on energy efficiency in a big way. To your point about consumers being willing to pay a premium for these types of products, do you think that Whirlpool should be doing more to make Energy Star products more affordable to the masses? It seems like we can best capture the benefit of these products if they are widely disseminated, but if too many consumers are priced out, the impact we can have on the “use phase” part of the pie chart will be fairly limited. Perhaps discounting based on a purchasing a “bundle” of Energy Star products could be one way to start driving greater energy efficiencies in the home, while also decreasing the cost per unit.
Super interesting article, Amir! I also had no idea that buildings were such a substantial portion of CO2 emissions today. As I was reading this, two questions kind of struck me. For one, what do you think is the biggest barrier to greater LEED adoption in architectural development today? Is it just a matter of expertise, or are there other factors at play? And second, do you think there are any weaknesses or blind spots in how buildings are certified for LEED? I know from your post that LEED buildings have the potential to save $2B in energy and water expenditures, but from what I have experienced, some of those savings come influencing consumer behavior (e.g. I paid the water bill vs. the apartment building because they said passing on the bill was a component of their LEED certification). Do you think LEED goes far enough in requiring substantial changes to the actual design of buildings?
Super interesting post. Like Angelo above, I am an avid consumer of nutrition bars, so was happy to see a post that wrote about one of my favorites! It seemed a lot of your recommendations for Clif focused on focused on improving the manufacturing side of the equation, however I was curious to hear about your thoughts on the use of GMOs. I am by no means an expert in the topic, but it seems like there’s mixed literature out there as to whether or not GMOs are actually bad. That, coupled with the tension that you describe above in terms of maintaining a reliable supply in the face of climate change, seems to point to a world where GMOs could actually be incredibly useful…especially if you are doing it with the objective of increasing crop yields / resilience in the face of rising temperatures and decreased access to water, etc. Do you see a future (in the long term) for a Clif bar that proudly trumpets the use of GMOs?