Analytics: Leveling the Playing Field for Brick and Motors

For the last two years, brick and motor stores have been targeted by a new, customer led shopping strategy called showrooming. The idea is as follows: customers browse through merchandise at a store to touch and feel the products, go home empty-handed, and then head online to find the products they like at a cheaper price. As in-store sales slumped, large chains like BestBuy responded to the challenge with price match guarantees. If consumers could find products at a cheaper price online, BestBuy would match the price and sell you the product right then and there. This of course lead to some headaches, one such example occurred recently where customers were using fake third-party Amazon listings to get Playstation 4 bundles at $90, $310 off the normal listing of $400.

Price matching only addresses one pain-point in the battle against eCommerce. Giants like Amazon are able to use data analytics to track their customers and create personalized marketing strategies that drive sales. With their “item-to-item collaborative filtering”, Amzaon can track what products customers viewed, what they purchased, and the reviews they left. This allows Amazon to create user profiles that then allow them to make highly targeted email and advertising campaigns. Amazon also has a powerful recommendation engine that refers new products based on past purchases. These powerful algorithms gave eCommerce platforms a large advantage over their brick and motor counter-parts. To fight back, physical stores are rising up to the challenge with their own in-store analytic platforms that seek to be just as powerful and effective in driving personalized in-store experiences.

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What’s Next for Pebble and The Future of Wearables

Pebble, a hardware technology company based out of Palo Alto, California, is one of the first firms to bring smartwatches to the masses. I must admit that I have a sweet spot for Pebble, since the founder and CEO Eric Migicovsky is a Canadian like myself. To start, let me give you some quick history on Eric. He grew up in Vancouver and moved to Southern Ontario to attend the University of Waterloo in Systems Design Engineering. His first smartwatch prototype was made years ago when he was on exchange at the Netherlands’ Delft industrial school. Since then, Eric made a number of iterations until he launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 for Pebble. Pebble, a smartwatch that pushed notifications from your phone onto your wrist, asked for a modest $100,000 in fundraising to help bring the new product to life. By the end of the fundraising campaign on May 18th 2012,  Pebble secured $10.2M – 100 times the ask, with an estimated 85,000 preorders. Pebble went on to hold the title for the most successful fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, until the Coolest Cooler, a modern, updated cooler for the 21st century, beat it last August. So Pebble is super successful now, right? Well yeah, kind of:

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Uber and Lyft: Ruthless Competition or Playful Partnership?

It has been a big year for Uber and Lyft as both companies broke into new cities, raised new capital, and continued to attract media attention for disrupting the black car and taxi market. The year also brought about large price drops for both companies. Between January and February of this year, Uber rolled out a 15-34% price drop for its UberX service in cities across the United States and Canada. Lyft responded in April with a 20% price cut after raising a new $250M fund. Such significant drops have sent the media into a frenzy – they can’t stop reporting about this “intense war”.

I’m going to argue the opposite: Uber and Lyft are more likely working in unison rather than against one another. The “price war” is an illusion to fool one into thinking that the competition is hot, when in fact, Uber and Lyft are working hard to create their own ideal market. To better understand why this is the case, we need to look at basic game theory models.

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