Jet's consumer proposition is as simple as its algorithms are complex: Spend $50 a year for a membership and you get the Web's lowest prices on 10 million-plus goods.
Here's how Jet works. As you add items to your basket, a discount tally starts accruing. The more you add, the bigger the discount, aided by specific choices such as opting out of a product return (a cost that Lore says is built into most shipped goods) and non-credit card payments (debit cards and linked checking accounts cut your final bill).
Lore's real-time trading reference speaks to the system's ability to adjust your discount based in part on where suppliers are. The closer the supplier, the lower the price. It gets Lore thinking about a bottle of ketchup.
“As cities become more and more congested, people are becoming increasingly open to new means of mobility, and car sharing is proving to be an appealing model,” says Ken Washington, Vice President of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “A crucial part of delivering effective car-sharing services is to learn alongside these drivers what best meets their needs and expectations, and complements their location and existing transportation infrastructure.”
GoDrive uses a pay-as-you-go approach to pricing and trips are charged by the minute, which includes the cost of the central London congestion charge, insurance and fuel. During the trial phase, cars were primarily located at public transport hubs, like Victoria railway station, but that’s obviously now being widened out to include other parts of the capital.
“To make the numbers, Knight figured that managers would need to deliver 15% annual returns on all new business and capital outlays.
Today the network planning group of 70 analysts oversees this process from cubicles on the 11th floor of Union Pacific’s office tower in Omaha. The “smart guys” are anything but wonks. Many are managers from the field who spend a year or two in the department and blend excellent math skills with rail yard know-how. A case in point is Danny Torres, who spent most of his career working in repair facilities and depots, and now runs a network of 10 terminals in Iowa. “We work with a financial model that says, How much profit will adding this siding or extra track add? Will it slow or increase efficiency in other parts of the network? When it’s all taken together, will the total return reach 15%?”
Knight also built a second financial function that might be called “green, yellow, red.” In each of the big operating businesses—coal, industrial products, chemicals, and so on—Knight installed financial managers to evaluate new business. They enter the proposed pricing on all new contracts, as well as the extra costs in fuel, manpower, and everything else the business will require, into an online operating system that projects the rate of return. If the number is well over 15%, the system flashes green. If it’s on the margin, the signal is yellow. “If it’s red,” says Knight, “and it’s the best pricing we can offer, we let it go.””
The hallowed Zambonis, fixtures at most ice rinks, are getting some competition from Olympias. From Boston.com
“When ice is being resurfaced, two operators will be on the ice at the same time. When the operators cut the ice, it’s in their hands individually, allowing for some error, Beckett said. With the Olympias, a laser system coordinates the cut of the ice, making it consistent with both machines.
There may also be a financial edge; Resurfice customers buy their first machines outright, but the contract provides customers with new machines every three years for a relatively small upgrade fee, Shlupp said.”
San Francisco startup Zenefits is offering smaller businesses an alternative: cloud software that simplifies the process of filling out forms, collects all the needed HR data in one interface, and comes with preset rates for its lists of available insurers. And Zenefits doesn’t charge for the software. It makes money through fees health insurers pay for signups, and says they’re lower than most brokers’ fees but add up quickly. “We figured out that if we can be that central hub system, the central system of record, we can make so much money on all these different spokes,” says Chief Executive Officer Parker Conrad. “It makes sense to give the hub and all the connective tissue away.”
New international route business models – courtesy of Time
La Compagnie, Yvelin’s new carrier (in photo below) runs 74-seat, all-business-class 757s between New York City and Paris, charging about $2,000 round-trip vs. $5,000 to $11,000 for the same seat on a larger carrier.
WOW recently launched four-times-a- week service from Baltimore and Boston to Reykjavík for as little as $400 round-trip, with continuing service to 18 other European cities. Unlike some long-haul carriers, WOW uses narrow-body Airbus A320s for the five-to-six-hour trip. Using smaller jets means you need fewer passengers to fill them, so there’s less capacity risk; charging 400 bucks round-trip almost guarantees you’ll get all the passengers you need. The WOW approach is the opposite of another Scandinavian carrier, the rapidly growing Norwegian Air Shuttle, although both are devotees of the ULCC model. Already a power in Europe’s short-haul market, Norwegian has taken advantage of global deregulation to take on long-haul, point-to-point service. The company is flying wide-body, 294-seat 787 Dreamliners to London from New York City and Los Angeles as well as Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The company is also running from Oakland, Calif., to Oslo and Copenhagen. With 11 Dreamliners on the way, including the newest, longer-range 787-9s, Norwegian has big plans. “Everybody thinks that long-haul, low-cost is a different ball game,” says CEO Bjørn Kjos. “What drives cost is utilization and how you operate.”
With corporate customers, Yapta loads its software into travel department booking systems. It doesn't charge for the service but takes a cut of the savings, usually about 35%, Mr. Filsinger said. With consumers, use of the tracking tool is free. Companies, like consumers, can set a threshold on minimum savings before an alert is sent, to take into account change fees and other expenses. The company recently launched a similar system to check for falling hotel room prices, but so far that's offered only to corporate travel departments and not consumers.
The bigger the fare, the bigger the potential savings, so travel managers say they have seen their most eye-popping results on international business-class tickets.
One Friday, Al Mazzola, director of travel services at Sykes Enterprises Inc., a Florida technology-consulting company, booked a $19,000 business-class ticket from Tampa to Shanghai and back, only to see it fall to $7,000 over the weekend. With the Yapta alert, the company grabbed the new price. "I was stunned. I've never seen savings like that,'' Mr. Mazzola said
Metromile’s pitch is straightforward: Your insurance premium should be based on exactly how much you drive. The more miles you put on your car, the more you pay, because the odds are higher you’ll have a claim. Drive less, pay less.
Insurers have long asked policyholders to report mileage, but that information typically influences the bill only when drivers renew for another term. Metromile’s new customers get the Metronome, a mileage-tracking device that plugs into a car’s data port. The company uses the information to customize its rates.
SolarCity's innovation wasn't technological but financial. Instead of selling solar systems outright, which can cost $20,000 or more, SolarCity would install them for free and then sell the electricity the panels generated to customers at a fixed rate over the life of a 20-year contract.
Given that utility rates are expected to rise, customers taking advantage of so-called power-purchase-agreement contracts are able to avoid the prohibitive up-front cost of solar and save money over the life of their contract. SolarCity also offered solar leases, not unlike car leases, in which customers pay a fixed monthly price for their systems. "With a lease, you immediately start saving, and from Day One you pay less for electricity than you were before," says Shayle Kann, vice president for research at Greentech Media. The model--now used by most solar installers--opened a huge new market.
Of course, subsidies help. The federal government offers a 30% tax credit on solar systems, and states provide additional incentives. Some states also have net-metering laws, which require utilities to pay solar-system owners for any excess electricity they feed back into the grid. That's what has some utilities concerned about distributed solar. If solar can keep growing, a significant percentage of utility customers will begin producing more and more of their own energy--and paying less to utilities. Rhone Resch, the president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, argues that if utilities don't evolve, SolarCity will become a threat.
seriously…China’s Kandi Technologies has developed a gigantic version stocked with cars, delivered on-demand as part of an electric vehicle sharing program.
Located in the city of Hangzhou, in the east of the country, the first of the buildings have already opened for business, where citizens can take advantage of a Zipcar-style sharing system. Participants in the scheme receive a card linked to their account, and by visiting one of the facilities and swiping the card, the machines inside each building then automatically deliver one of Kandi’s electric cars to the ground floor. For around CNY 20, users can borrow the vehicle for an hour. Kandi hopes to have 50 of the facilities opened by March this year, with 750 garages — equal to 100,000 cars — planned in total for Hangzhou.