Our Phones As Our Wallets? Whatever, I’ll Just Have The Usual

Imagine if interacting with local merchants was just like texting a friend?

Or, rather than having to walk over and wait for my lunch at SkyUltra Lounge in Bellevue, WA, I was able to text “I’ll have the usual” and 15 minutes later it arrives already paid for?  It’s a local commerce experience built around your mobile life.  You’re now just one simple message away from your favorite places!

I heard those words the other day and shivers went down my spine!  No need to carry a wallet.  No need to actually call a restaurant for reservations or placing an order.  Simply text your favorite local merchant, make a request, one-click purchase and be on your way.

Adility CEO Thomas Cornelius has a similar vision, detailing out what the next generation of commerce will look like.

“But the concept of reducing online-to-offline commerce data to a single, unique, universally recognizable and usable identifier is still exciting.  Once we create this type of “commerce network,” we will start to have an online equivalent to magnetic credit card rails, and the connections between different kinds of commerce will become clearer. Meanwhile, as the social graph is put on top of this data, marketers will be able to move purchases closer to purchase intent — and we will have real time accountability of  transactions.” 

Thomas is looking towards a transition from a purely segregated offline commerce experience towards a merged online/offline experience involving mobile devices.  He has a great vision and I believe it will come true.  Yet, the following must align for this transition to take place.

Unique Consumer ID

Today, we see apps for everything.  Am I the only one getting a little tired of the phrase “there’s an app for that”?  We don’t need individual apps to order a latte at Startbucks,to order at lunch Chipole, to text an appointment at the local dentist and to set up reservations and order beer at the bar later that night.  That’s a lot of apps just in one afternoon!  This will not scale…

What is required for the transition to a purely mobile commerce society is a unique consumer ID that can be taken and used at ANY local merchant.  This ID will be fully controlled by a consumer, fully secure with the ability to block any commercial entity that does not add value to the individual.  With the use of that ID, every purchase, message and interaction will be used to further personalize our consumer experiences.

OS/Device Agnostic

The App store wars are wrecking havoc on local merchants and consumer’s everywhere.  Needing to develop specifically for Andriod, Apple, WP7 and others is too damn expensive and takes too damn long.  Also, as a costumer and realizing you don’t have the exact device required to receive a discount from your favorite local merchant – when taken to an extreme – could be thought of as discrimination.  This will also not scale…

A mobile communications and commerce platform must be device agnostic, meaning it must include technologies accessed by any and all web connected devices.  It should not matter what device or operating system a person has in their hand, they should be able to place an order, receive a message and earn a discount.  A better way to think about it is when aiming for the highest adoption rates and ubiquity, the lowest barrier of usage always wins out.  What is one of the most used communication technologies in the world?  SMS, or text messages.  Pretty simple, but very transformational.

Built on Historical and Social Data

Each morning I visit the neighborhood cafe and order the same thing: a non-fat latte.  I find it funny I have to repeat those words each time I step up to the counter.  Remember how I opened the article?  I just want to say “I’ll have the usual”… and go on with my life.  Is that too much to ask?  Today, it might be.  But not tomorrow!

Also, it would be great if I could see what others have ordered today at this exact cafe, so I can determine whether or not I am missing out on the best drink.  It would be really cool to see what everyone in Seattle is ordering, right now in real time.  Or across Washington state, and even the world.  Think about that one for a second….

If those 3 things can come together in one platform, inevitably we will transition to a fully mobile society.


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