I was talking last week with someone about this kind of applications: Pizza Hut Shortcut. Basically this is a new Channel for reaching the clients (of course is an AIR application). And it has a big advantage over fliers or web sites or radio ads: it delivers to the client when the client wants, it delivers non intrusive and makes the act of reaching the product so simple that you could become addicted.
Let’s do an imagination exercise together. Suppose you have a refreshment/restaurant business. And suppose you are based in a big town and many of your clients are employees who are ordering from you for lunch. Now suppose that there are another couple of hundreds or maybe thousands of similar businesses in your town and you all compete basically for the same clients. So what are you doing to do in order to ensure that you get clients each working day? Probably you are offering discounts for anyone who is eating from Monday to Friday between 12PM – 2PM. Or maybe you are offering free catering. But guess what? all the other business are doing exactly the same. So what can you do?
Now let’s take a look at 90′ and Web. In the beginning there were few people realizing that you can make money out of “virtual” presence. But those who got there first and managed to address real needs became very very successful (Ebay, Amazon, Hotmail etc). But besides the big names there were many small and medium business that started to use the Internet as a new distribution channel (restaurants, shops, travel agencies…). But of course many business didn’t get to Internet fast enough.
Let’s move ten years later and look at all this RIA thing. Some of big guys are already jumped in (Dell, Pizza Hut, Ebay …); some guys created applications that mimics desktop apps but they live in the “cloud” (such as calendars, word editors, to do lists …). But most of the people are staying away and using Web 1.0. Don’t you see a pattern, a cycle here?
Let’s get back to our restaurant owner (in fact to you as we continue our exercise). Because your brother is a computer geek/scientist ;) you find about the RIA thing and about the Pizza Hut Application. And you see the great potential of this kind of app for your business. Let’s see what an AIR app can do for your business:
- Your clients have this application installed on their computers and it is running minimized in tray.
- Lunch hours is coming and an alert is appears from the tray icon saying the today speciality. The user clicks on the alert and the application gets maximized with all dishes you have for today. The client selects what he wants and click the send button; He already has his contact data filled in (from previous orders) and he click Finish and minimize the app.
- Back in your kitchen the order is put together and when it is ready to be sent to the client, he gets a new notification stating in how many minutes he will receive the food.
- Next day he goes back to ordering and because you know what he ordered you can display for him previous choices (to help him decide) and also the quantities as usually one employee orders for more colleagues.
- And the screenplay is really open it depends on your imagination.
So let’s see what do we have here. First we have the power to push to our client the right offer on the right time. In the same time we keep history of previous orders and quantities so that the client is helped to decide and place an order. Finally we can keep the client informed about how long he has to wait. Do you think it is possible to offer the same experience by using a web site? I doubt this very much.
Now this model can be applied to all kind of business: movie/theaters, clubs, hotels, shops, travel agency, newspapers and so on. The catch is to get on your client’s desktop first and stay there by offering a good service.
So looking at all these advantages I really don’t understand why these kind of apps and way of doing business are not all around us. The question is whether you (as a business owner or as a developer) are you willing to get out there first?