The consumption of goods, especially in cities, is making urban transport more complex. This is being driven by shorter cycles for seasonal goods, growth in web-based shopping, and higher expectations on short delivery times. Mailboxes serve fewer and fewer letters. Post-offices are closing down and trucks seem to be the worst urban parking violators around.
Transport needs are shifting as internet shopping grows and businesses delivery needs become more and more complex. We now order our weekly groceries online and have them delivered to our door. We pick up parcels at a variety of locations in our neighborhood, depending on the shipping company or the type of goods. The cycles for seasonal goods are getting shorter too as urban retailers push to have as little stock as possible due to expensive floor-space.
Allowing for high-accuracy tracking through networked packages opens up for a number of benefits. Delivery expectations can be set to very specific timing windows. Delivery addresses can be changed en-route without manual intervention. Urban businesses can reduce the inefficiencies from excess waiting times for goods and spare parts. If we know exactly where the package is, we can also make more efficient delivery decisions.
A greater variety of distribution points in cities will lead to smaller vehicles for intracity delivery. The modern postal vehicle is too small and was optimized for the delivery of letters and small packages. They also occupy too much space wherever they stop. Networked vehicles tightly coupled to re-loading centers outside urban centers and package distribution points represent a vital development area.
Here are my predictions for the future of networked goods delivery:
* Real-time tracking capabilities will emerge for e-commerce goods scheduled for urban delivery
* Intelligent delivery points will support flexible pick-up since the best location can vary from order to delivery
* Smaller connected trucks provide a link between packages and the overall tracking system.
A growing challenge in the cities is how to meet its citizen’s parking needs. Users expect navigation support to help them find parking spots close to their destination. With the growth of hybrid and electrical cars, the demand for powered parking spots will grow in urban areas. But what role do networks and smartphones play in this scenario?
Today, information about available parking spots is first displayed at the entry to a garage. With enhanced navigation support en route, the next step is to extend this type of information for empty parking spots. The value to society and citizens from finding a parking spot instantly will come in terms of time saved and reduced emissions. A networked parking lot or garage has the capability to make its available spots accessible to cars nearby. Checking-in a few minutes prior to arrival can soon be a reality.
The transition to electrical and hybrid cars is essential to reduce emissions in urban areas. Integrating electrical/hybrid car charging into urban parking is the next, natural step for dedicated electronic vehicle (EV) parking spots. Distributing charging locations to natural parking spots can make at-home and at-work parking a reality.
With the population growing in major urban areas, parking will continue to be a scarce resource. Efficient use of parking is relevant in urban centers but so is commuter parking – where multi-modal travelers switch to public transportation. With multi-modal travelling apps, different information about public transportation can be linked and extended to include private transportation. The adventure of parking cars in urban centers could soon be history, at least insofar as it is possible to serve the needs with existing parking spots.
My predictions for the future of networked parking are:
– Navigation support will be extended from best routes to also include parking.
– Location-based technology will allow nearby cars to check-in to a parking spot prior to arrival to reduce traffic load from “parking finding”.
– Dedicated EV parking spots will allow charging while “cityzens” are at work.
Restaurants are an important part of social life in the city, where stressed “cityzens” frequently choose an outing instead of cooking at home. Having Wi-Fi in the restaurant and social media “likes” are just as important as the menu for attracting visitors. So, what is essential for owners to consider as they take their concepts toward into a networked environment?
Many restaurant visits are decided at the last minute – usually as you are walking past a place that looks interesting. You know the neighborhood where you live, but you might be open to suggestions for places that are close to where you are. It is therefore central for restaurants to expand their attraction power beyond what we see physically to what we can see on our screens.
In many cases we know where to go, we just need to book a table. We might have difficulties in selecting an exact time in advance. We are also reluctant to take the 30-40 minute wait upon arrival. In this respect, it would be preferable to be able to secure a table on short notice by making the booking through a mobile app and then enjoying an aperitif elsewhere.
As the lifetime of menus becomes shorter and shorter, restaurants are keen on promoting their chosen ingredients in an effort to assist guests in the decision-making process. And with the trend at restaurants moving towards ‘Menu of the Day’ the next innovation will be to exploit tablet menus in close collaboration with what is going on in the kitchen during preparation.
Credit cards have been basic currency in restaurants for a long time. But mobile payments are moving in and opening up the doors for follow-up promotions for your next visit. Being able to monitor payments, owners can track how their online marketing is paying off. The current restaurant infrastructure for Wi-Fi and payment systems can be outsourced, and owners can focus on their new dining experience.
My predictions for the future of networked restaurants are as follows:
– Multiple restaurant processes (marketing, booking, menus and payments) can be re-engineered for a better dining experience.
– Wi-Fi for visitors is just one step toward the networked restaurant, where the following steps are more mission-critical and tied to the restaurants’ own operational processes.
– Restaurants will require highly reliable networks to realize their potential beyond what a typical restaurant Wi-Fi network delivers.
Running a coffee shop or a food stand that attracts customers during morning rush hour or during busy shopping times used to be about securing volumes and shop location. Marketing started as a way of creating brand awareness and used to happen when customers saw your shop and then decided to come in and make a purchase. That world is quickly changing however in the era of networked shopping.
Shop owners today can extend their marketing zone from that first visual content to now, when potential new customers show up in proximity of their store. Shops can extend promotions to frequent customers as soon as their location matches a given store. If you are in an unfamiliar area, you can even get navigational assistance to your favorite shop nearby. By extending marketing from the time you see a shop to now where that shop can “see” you nearby, increasing the effectiveness of marketing significantly.
This is especially relevant for city shoppers – aka ‘cityzens’ – who can benefit from receiving superior offerings, relevant to them here and now, from the shops they prefer. Smartphones become the bridge between online marketing and in-store purchases. Daily specials can be considered before determining which shops to visit. This new marketing model is suitable for both food and merchandise shops.
In addition to changing the marketing process, the payment process is being impacted by new innovations. Paying directly with your phone is being introduced on a broad scale. Credit card validation is central today in determining what IS/IT capabilities to deploy. The change in the payment capabilities is a key part of the transition to networked stores. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this trend is the broad applicability. It is not about luxury goods stores, this is relevant for any shop in the Networked Society.
My predictions for the future of networked shopping are:
– Stores will leverage location technology for marketing to attract ‘cityzens’ nearby before they even see the shop.
– Smartphones will be the device involved in the target marketing process.
– In addition to marketing changes, shops will complement their payment infrastructure to support payments through phones directly.
– The IS/IT capabilities will change to support the new era of “in-line shopping”.
To learn more about In-line shopping, have a look at this report from ConsumerLab