But the good news is that the indies are quietly resurging across the nation, registering a growth of over 30 percent since 2009 and sales that were up around 10 percent last year, according to the American Booksellers Association, the indies’ main organization with more than 2,200 stores.
“Existing stores are selling once more to a new generation of owners,” said Oren Teicher, the A.B.A.’s chief executive officer, noting that such stores could never be resold during the gloomiest years, when they were under threat from Barnes & Noble and then later, Internet sales. The indies now find that readers are looking for life beyond their computer screens. They want to embrace books in all three dimensions and to select them in a tactile, less anonymous marketplace. Booksellers are fellow readers who converse knowledgeably and jot down their current favorites on helpful bookshelf notes.
Denis Pombriant shared a copy of his new book. The words “Solve” and “Customer Science” on the cover grabbed my analytical attention. In the introduction he says:
“Customer Science is now a necessity because so many customers are so dissatisfied — and they are not timid about telling the world why. This is a business problem and much can be done to solve it. “
The book, however, turned out to be full of empathy for the customer with terms like “bonding” and “moments of truth”
In his foreword, Paul Greenberg expresses it well:
On the one hand, businesses value profitability, revenue, shareholder value, and customer satisfaction — things that you easily can measure. On the other hand, customers value being valued. It’s a feeling, not a mathematical construct.
Not that Denis avoids mathematical areas – he simplifies complex concepts like subscription pricing and quantification of customer sentiment. My books tend to be case study heavy so I liked Denis’ similar exploration of concepts using HubSpot, HP Vertica, New England BioLabs and United Airlines among other examples.
It’s an easy (and humorous)180 page read - and shockingly under-priced at $ 2.99 for the Kindle version.
There’s a shift under way in large organizations, one that puts design much closer to the center of the enterprise. But the shift isn’t about aesthetics. It’s about applying the principles of design to the way people work.
This new approach is in large part a response to the increasing complexity of modern technology and modern business. That complexity takes many forms. Sometimes software is at the center of a product and needs to be integrated with hardware (itself a complex task) and made intuitive and simple from the user’s point of view (another difficult challenge). Sometimes the problem being tackled is itself multi-faceted: Think about how much tougher it is to reinvent a health care delivery system than to design a shoe. And sometimes the business environment is so volatile that a company must experiment with multiple paths in order to survive.
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