Amazon is Coming to Australia and Retailers are Worried

They should be worried. As I discussed in my blog last week called The Blockbuster Effect, and countless previous blogs, you can’t expect, even at the bottom of the planet, to have the luxury of continuing doing business the same way as you have for the last couple of decades and expect the same result.

bordersWhether it’s the retail book industry and publishing that should be quaking, or other forms of retail that no longer provide perceived value to their customers, this will hasten the change.

On TV News I watched a story about a baby store that consults with their customers, even fits baby seats into cars and they weren’t worried because they have a relationship with their customers. I agree with them.

I buy books from Amazon (why would I pay 3 times as much in a store that gives me no reason to be loyal and wait for 3 months after a book has been launched overseas). I bought my second smartwatch last week from Deal Extreme for US$18 including free delivery to New Zealand. It has a camera, Bluetooth, a speaker, large capacitive touch screen, email, phone book, auto dialling so I can ring without taking my phone out of my pocket, messaging from TXT to Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, a SIM Card slot and much more. Not as many features as an iWatch, or a Samsung watch but at about 7% of the price and delivered to my door for free within 2 weeks.

I was talking to a good friend the other day who took a business idea offshore and has established a solid company addressing the retail threats that he and I had discussed on countless occasions. We discussed the opportunity to bring the idea back to Australasia to help retailers and other businesses to compete by offering a quality service, recognising the loyalty of their customers and the mutual interest of retailers and foot customers to keep doing business together. I think he’s onto a winner.

As they said on the TV News story, Kiwis love to shop. The problem is that whilst many retailers pay into loyalty card systems, they don’t show loyalty to their unique customers or offer them much reason to be loyal to their brand. There are obvious exceptions such as Subway and Petrol stations are starting to get in on the act such as my Mobil Smiles card, but they are far from the rule and yet to prove they have a winning formula.

So I believe that more retailers in New Zealand and Australia who fail to change with the times are going to fall by the wayside. I also don’t believe they have to, but they do have to do something different. BAU will not cut it. Complaining will not cut it. Those who don’t find the time or the business partners to provide solutions such as Marketing as a Service (MaaS), will be down the tubes.

We will remember them. We will miss them. But don’t worry, others will take their place. The smart ones. The ones that finally listened. Which one are you?

Posted in Amazon, Apple Watch, Australia, Business, Customer Research, Customers, disruptive model, Gadgets, Gas prices, Loyalty, Maas, Marketing, Marketing apps, New retail ideas, People, Retail, retail apps, retail survival, retail systems, Shopping, SmartWatch | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Blockbuster Effect

I was listening to the Zig Ziglar Show on the way home tonight Episode 481 with Mark Sanborn and had to pause when I heard the following statement which resonated so much with previous blogs I have written on the topic of BAU.

Mark quoted Joe Calloway as saying “Success means you only know what worked yesterday”. He also quoted Seth Godin’s ‘Stuck Winning Model’. He said “A company or an individual does something and it works and because it works, they do more of it. And they keep doing it because it works, until one day it stops working as well. So what do they do? They do more of it. It’s kind of like, WOW it’s not working as well, we’d better double our efforts, instead of saying, maybe it isn’t going to work going forward and maybe we need to try something else.”

He went on to say that maybe why people get stuck, is success, because on the one hand you don’t want to jeopardise it. We’re doing OK. I don’t want to bet the farm, I don’t want to roll the dice, but on the other hand, if we keep doing what we’ve done, sooner or later we’re going to get supplanted.

borders-closingTherein lies my problem with so many businesses from taxis to bookstores to music stores. Remember Sounds Music? Unfortunately their leading light passed away and they lost their way. Remember Real Groovy (for the Kiwi readers)? They bought in container loads of vinyl that no one wanted in the UK and shipped them to New Zealand.

Guess what? People still want to buy records, in fact they can’t get enough of them and they often pay more for them than CD’s even though Spotify, Pandora, Apple, iHeartRadio and many more are offering unlimited music to your phone for freemium or a low price.

I still maintain that Borders could still be viable too, they just needed to adjust their business model and not to selling soft toys, but then that’s just my opinion.

Boards who try to squeeze the lifeblood of an existing model just because it has worked really frustrate me.  You have to keep reinventing yourself and you have to listen to your customers. I mean really listen, not assume you know what they are saying, because often what they are saying, or what you think you are hearing, is not what they mean.

It’s like the car park companies that thought they were destinations and taxi companies who thought they were chauffeurs. Anyway, I was motivated to blog tonight after hearing the same story again on a great podcast. So are you going to do the same thing tomorrow as you have done for the last 5 years?

Good luck with that.


Posted in BAU, Blogging, Business, Business Consultant, Business Intelligence, carparking, New retail ideas, Retail, retail survival | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life List #6/150 Write a Sequel to Unleashing the Roadwarrior


Unleashing The Road Warrior

It’s been 15 years since I wrote and published Unleashing the Road Warrior and it’s interesting both how much has changed and how little has changed.

I was planning on writing a book about traffic congestion on our roads and practical things we can do to work smarter and avoid the stress and costs of sitting in traffic. I wanted to explore ways that we can both live in the city without being ground to a halt by growing demand on the roads and ever increasing commute times.

When I started to think about it, that was pretty much what I was trying to do with that book, which I wrote in concert with training courses I was running through the Auckland Chamber of Commerce when I owned the Smartphone and PDA Academy. Unfortunately things haven’t changed much and most people are still not working smarter.

We hear all about autonomous cars, Artificial Intelligence and computers taking our jobs, but not only are we working longer hours at our jobs, but many of us spend additional hours stuck in traffic getting to and from them.

There have been experiments in wielding big sticks like congestion tolls, but they wouldn’t be necessary if companies and their staff were smarter about how they do business. I see them as a last resort with the risk of increasing the cost of living as people pay the tolls and continue to endure the traffic.

Earlier this week before I succumbed to a serious case of man-flu, I had the privilege of hosting 35 school children all aged around 9 who had presented great ideas to Auckland Transport about what the future could look like and they were really bright kids. I asked them what traffic was and they told me it was about trading goods and services and that it was when a number of vehicles wanted to be on the same road at the same time. They reminded me of myself at that age.

Part of the motivation for my first book was that I was promised as a child of around that age that computers would mean that human beings would be freed up for the higher things on Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’. Our problem would be what to do with all that leisure time. Since I started work I think I have averaged at least 50 hours a week throughout my career. I think I still have the document somewhere. It was called ‘A Blueprint for the Future’ or something like that.

As the headline says, this is item 6 on the Life List I decided to commit to of 150 things to do in the next 10 years, encouraged by being told by my oncologist who said I am now in remission from Prostate Cancer.


A typical morning commute on Auckland’s North Shore

Humans are so intelligent that you’d think we were smart enough to know that the change has to come from people being smarter with their use of technology and time.

I remember sitting in a plane from London to LAX around 1990 reading New Scientist magazine which had a case study about building motorways in the UK which said that as soon as they built a new one and opened it, it was full. So what do they do? Build more. What happens? They fill up.

Do we have to put up with traffic congestion and join the great cities of the world by increasing the cost of living, buying ever more cars and wasting emotional and physical energy and personal time sitting in motorway parking lots?

I don’t think so. I think there is a lot we can do. I think today we have the technology more than ever to work smarter. I’m not saying its an easy fix, but I’m saying we can have our cake and eat it too.

Many of the things I wrote about in that first book still apply, back then I needed to run training courses to teach people how to do email and manage their time, focus and remote working. I still have letters of thanks from people who attended my training courses and the book was even used in American universities business studies.

Today we have much more user friendly technology, but many of us are too busy being busy to stop and do something about it. But at what cost? Hopefully my next book will help more people and businesses to increase work life balance and if over time reduce congestion in urban areas. It’s not rocket science, it’s common sense.

So how about it? Would you like to achieve greater results in less time and have more time to spend with your family or doing things that you have a passion for?


Posted in Auckland, Autonomous cars, Business, Business Consultant, Communications, Consultant, driving, Education, Foresight, Future, Futurist, good books, human logic, Innovation, Location Based Consultant, Location Based Servces, Motoring, motorway, Smart City, Society, SoLoMo, TDM, Technology, telecommunications, the future, traffic congestion, Traffic Control, traffic demand, traffic design, Traffic jam, Traffic Management, Traffic Optimization, travel demand management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finally a Device to Track Anything Like a Magpie Does


Calum Handley, Raul Oaida and Derek Handley

I’ve known Derek Handley and his family for a long time, since a young group of entrepreneurs won the NZ Wireless Data Forum’s mobile app competition (I was President at the time, helped conceive and judge  it) many many years ago with a concept of a mobile gambling app where fans could make bets with each other at a sporting match (which would have been a winner if it wasn’t for monopolies and gambling laws at the time) and formed The Hyperfactory. I had the pleasure of watching them (from a distance) develop some amazing campaigns, sell, create Snakk Media and  get involved in many other projects.

Some of the most exciting ideas they had didn’t happen for various reasons, which is all part of the game of being an entrepreneur, but in others they were true pioneers. What I most admired about them was that they had true grit and passion for their work and for making a difference. I remember visiting their offices many times in the early days and I can tell you that they really put in the hours and obstacles were just stepping stones. While I was trying to support entrepreneurs, they were changing the future, from New Zealand.

Obviously New Zealand got too small very quickly and they had to go to the USA so they could scale and find the real money, but they never lost their passion for making a better future.

MagpieI was delighted to see stories in the NZ Herald and  Stuff this week about their new venture Magpie which is about a really low cost solution for tracking everything from your keys to more important things like your favorite guitars or other items that don’t feature communications.

As you know I a very passionate about GPS tracking and have written dozens of blogs and curated dozens of stories on the topic over the years. About 4 years ago I seriously considered setting up a distribution business for tracking solutions, but I didn’t have the capital to scale quickly and didn’t really feel many of the products or systems I saw were well suited to the needs of my target markets.

The closest to Magpie is probably Tile, but it is Bluetooth based and requires a critical mass of mobile phones running the app in order to locate the missing item, so for example, if someone stole a guitar, you could only locate it if it was within 10 meters of a mobile phone running the app. Probably a good proposition in large urban environments, if that’s where your lost item ends up, but otherwise, for example in a country like New Zealand, I wasn’t convinced the mass of users were there. I know a lot of geeks in New Zealand and I haven’t come across anyone who has a Tile and they are the early adopters.

I emailed Tile and asked them about New Zealand. To their credit they responded very quickly, but it was the company line of millions of devices in loads of countries.

So when I found out about the Magpie Kickstarter campaign, I didn’t hesitate to put some money in the pot and pre-purchase some units, because I know that these guys know how to make something like this work. I have no idea what their harvest plan is, but I absolutely love their model, both the product concept and the purchase model. So does everyone else given they got 400% of the funding they were chasing in under 3 days.

I’ll be watching this with interest. I spend a lot of my time thinking about changing the future, these are the sort of people that make the future and make the world a better place. I recommend you watch this space

Posted in #TheGPSMadeMeDoIt, Best GPS, best GPS trackers, Best Practice GPS, Bluetooth, Catch Crooks with GPS, cheap gps, Cool Tech, Future, Futurist, Gadgets, GPS bait, GPS features, GPS MAde Me Do IT, GPS Maps, GPS Pet Tracking, GPS Player Tracking, GPS Police Tracker, GPS Track People, GPS Tracker, GPS Tracking, GPS Traxcking, IoT, location based apps, Location Based Consultant, Location Based Servces, Location Based Services, Location Based Services for Health, Map apps, missing children, missing people, Mobile Apps, mobile friendly, people tracking, Personal GPS Trackers, Police tracking, Sports GPS, theft, top apps, Track and Trace, track children, Track parolees, Tracking Apps, Tracking Children, Tracking criminals, tracking data, Tracking kids, tracking missing peopl, Tracking pets, Tracking staff, Tracking stolen property | Leave a comment

Are Flying Cars an Option

I love the concept, especially electric and low or no noise, but the last thing I want to do is look up at the clouds and see hundreds of ‘air cars’ instead of clouds and flocks of birds.

I suspect that this is a great replacement for helicopters, potentially a lot safer, but as a mode of transport in cities with a million plus residents, doesn’t sound quite so likely.

As a mode of tourism transport they would be awesome. I’m off to book my flight now.


Posted in Autonomous cars, commuting, Concept Car, congestion, Cool Tech, Driverless Cars, driverless vehicles, Foresight, future car, Future Technology, new cars, the future, tourism tech, tourist marketing, traffic, Transport, Travel | Leave a comment

Mobility as a Service

MaaSMost mornings as I ignore my car navigation directions and go to work the fast way, I drive past the same yachts in a marina, which are mostly all there in the middle of summer and on the weekends too and I think about the waste.

They say that most cars are used 3% of the time, which is the argument for fewer cars and a better transport model. That model is fundamentally about MaaS. An example is being able to go to your computing device, probably your mobile, setting in your destination (it already knows where you are) and being given a range of options which might be a combination of personal modes of transport through to public transport, rideshare, walking, cycling.

The app would let you book and pay for the service that best meets your needs, for example you might need to drop the kids of at school on the way, or you may not be feeling sociable, or perhaps you’re on a tight budget. The app is ‘intelligent’ and knows about traffic conditions and can give you a  variety of options to choose from. It’s intelligent and learns your patterns and knows where you live and work and places you frequent. You make your selection and are on your way.

Your car is one of your most expensive assets and depreciates in value the minute you have paid for it (or signed up to a finance plan which is even worse, paying interest on an asset that is losing value before you have even used it).

claesI use the analogy of the yacht because it is not dissimilar. We built and owned a family yacht. That’s her on the left. My parents ended up living on her which made it good value for a time, but in the end when they moved on-shore it was idle and none of us had the time or money to maintain her and consequently she depreciated about 80%. They say a boat is a hole in the water that you throw money into and whilst she was awesome, so are the new yachts that you can rent or timeshare at your local Marina.

For less than our annual insurance bill when she was new, you can go and rent the very latest 45 foot yacht (she was 54 feet) and hop on board an almost new craft in mint condition. Go out and sail for a couple of weeks anywhere in the world, jump off at the end and go enjoy the stories and photos. No cleaning, worn sails, engine maintenance, hull cleaning, painting, marina or mooring fees.

So why wouldn’t you do the same with your car? If you want to go on a driving holiday, rent the latest and greatest with a little of the cash you saved from not owning one. Use public transport, rideshare or whatever is appropriate.

The main reason is that the systems aren’t here yet, but one way or another they are coming. There are a lot of hurdles to jump but there are disruptive businesses on the way and existing enterprises are re-thinking how they can profit from the bow wave instead of being drowned because they can’t compete.

Posted in Best GPS, Best Practice GPS, Big Data, Bus Apps, Car Technology, car tracking, carpool, cars, congestion, connected cars, driving, driving app, future car, Future Technology, GPS Car Nav, GPS Problems, GPS Test, IoT, ITS, Maas, mobile travel apps, Mobility as a Service, nav apps, Nav Maps | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Avoid the Traffic on Waitangi Weekend

The NZTA have a couple of fantastic services for long weekends and public holidays called Holiday Hotspots. I use it every long weekend when I go away and barring people having accidents, I enjoy near normal driving speeds and even the bottlenecks are pretty good.

hhYou can find it here and it is responsive so you can use it on your mobile as well as on a tablet or computer. Or you can go to and click on Traffic and Travel. You’ll find loads of information there for this and future trips.

hhpuhoiThere are different ways to get to the same place, but if you click on a button or the name of the place, you can dig in for more information. If you hover over the table with your mouse, or tap and hold on your mobile device you will find even more info on the tables.

This is a brilliant service for Waitangi Weekend particularly because it is a complex weekend with celebrations in key places that makes some of the patterns different from normal holiday weekends, for example heading north a lot of people already left last night, possibly going to the far north for the Treaty celebrations. In other areas a lot are going away on the Friday or the Saturday.

Some of the travel patterns are different based on how far people typically travel. So I recommend if you don’t want to get stuck in traffic, visit this page and have a great drive like I usually do. My time is valuable and my car was not designed to stop-start. The parking lots we often experience are because people don’t plan ahead. It’s caused by people who just get in their cars and go. Imagine if everyone in Auckland tried to drive North and South at the same time?

otmwaitangiI want to quickly tell you about another free product that I and many of my friends enjoy called OnTheMove in case you haven’t heard about it yet. It is a free email subscription service where you can register and identify what route you are traveling, what days and what times, and it will send you emails if anything occurs during the trip that might cause you a problem.

Imagine for example if you subscribed to start getting alerts an hour before you left and there was a serious crash between Auckland and Wellsford, you could avoid it by taking SH16 instead of SH1.  You can even subscribe to regional alerts. It works on your mobile as well as your other devices. You can use it once, you can use it every day, you can have multiple routes, you can even monitor a region and plan visits to different locations based on any traffic events..

Use these simple tools this weekend for your road trip and you might just find that you have more time at your destination and less in the traffic. If you tell your friends and colleagues, it’s even better because the more people that plan their travel, the less congested it gets and of course they will get the same good experience you will enjoy. That’s because we cause the congestion when we get in our cars.

So how about giving these tools a try and letting me know what you think? Please note that any comments I make on my blogs are totally my own opinions and do not in any way represent my employer.

Posted in car accidents, car crash, congestion, Crash, drivers, driving, driving app, Good travel apps, holiday traffic, Intelligent Transport Systems, ITS, location based apps, long weekend, mobile holiday apps, Mobile Maps, Motoring, real time traffic, Route Optimisation, RTTI, safer driving, safer journeys, Tourism, Tourism apps, tourism tech, traffic, traffic congestion, Traffic Control, traffic demand, Traffic jam, Traffic Management, Traffic Optimization, Travel, Travel Apps, Travel Information, Vacation | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment