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jerryking : one-of-a-kind   13

Inside Amazon Go, a Store of the Future - The New York Times
Jan. 21, 2018 | NYT | By Nick Wingfield

....Amazon’s store of the future hits you right at the front door. It feels as if you are entering a subway station. A row of gates guard the entrance to the store, known as Amazon Go, allowing in only people with the store’s smartphone app......Every time customers grab an item off a shelf, Amazon says the product is automatically put into the shopping cart of their online account. If customers put the item back on the shelf, Amazon removes it from their virtual basket. The only sign of the technology that makes this possible floats above the store shelves — arrays of small cameras, hundreds of them throughout the store. Amazon won’t say much about how the system works, other than to say it involves sophisticated computer vision and machine learning software. Translation: Amazon’s technology can see and identify every item in the store, without attaching a special chip to every can of soup and bag of trail mix. ........Amazon Go, checking out feels like — there’s no other way to put it — shoplifting. ......A big unanswered question is where Amazon plans to take the technology. It won’t say whether it plans to open more Amazon Go stores, or leave this as a one-of-a-kind novelty. A more intriguing possibility is that it could use the technology inside Whole Foods stores, though Ms. Puerini said Amazon has “no plans” to do so.

There’s even speculation that Amazon could sell the system to other retailers, much as it sells its cloud computing services to other companies.
Amazon_Go  Amazon  cashierless  computer_vision  convenience_stores  customer_experience  grocery  machine_learning  one-of-a-kind  supermarkets  retailers  Whole_Foods 
january 2018 by jerryking
Go Ahead, Take a Risk
June 22, 2004 | WSJ | By ADRIAN SLYWOTSKY

What are the risks you should be taking but aren't? Most managers treat risk as an unwanted byproduct of the business. They think narrowly of financial, operating, and hazard risks, such as currency fluctuations, employee fraud, and earthquakes. And they defend themselves through practices like hedging, internal controls, and insurance.

But disruptive strategic risks can be a much larger source of value destruction for a firm. I looked back to the bull market of the 1990s to analyze movements of the Fortune 1000 stocks; even then, before the market collapsed, 10% of stocks lost over one-quarter of their value in a single month, primarily because of strategic-risk events.

The most successful companies do not try to simply minimize strategic risk; they embrace such risk by making prudent bets in their growth-oriented strategies. Strategic risks include not just the obvious, high-probability events that a new ad campaign or new product launch will fail, but other less-obvious risks as well: Customers' priorities will change quickly -- as when baby-boomer parents quickly migrated from station wagons to minivans, catching most automakers off guard. New technology will overtake your product -- as mobile telephony has stolen market share from fixed-line voice. A one-of-a-kind competitor will render your business model obsolete -- as the Wal-Mart tidal wave has washed over mid-range department stores.

Although insurance and hedging can't address strategic risks, there are an array of countermeasures that can, including these three:
1) Smart sequencing for new growth initiatives. Look for incumbents that are moving deliberately, leveraging existing assets and customer relationships to gain the experience, knowledge, and reputation necessary to take the next step with confidence.
2) Proprietary information to reduce the risk of each new initiative. Gather and generate proprietary information that produces a depth of insight into the customer's needs and activities that traditional suppliers cannot match. This will make you a supplier of choice, reducing bidding volatility and allow you to plan with greater certainty.
3) Double betting to minimize the risk of obsolescence. When several versions of a new technology are competing to become the standard, it's impossible to predict which will prevail. So smart managers make double bets. Betting on both Windows and OS/2 positioned Microsoft to be the winner, regardless of which operating system prevailed.

Traditional risk management seeks to contain losses. But that's just one-half of the growth equation. By embracing strategic risk, Cardinal, JCI, and other risk-savvy companies have raised their growth potential in addition to reducing their economic volatility. That's important at a time when aggregate market growth is sluggish: The biggest risk of all is not to take the right growth risks for the business.
leaps_of_faith  Adrian_J._Slywotzky  risk-taking  proprietary  sequencing  scuttlebutt  information  growth  strategic_thinking  Mercer  Oliver_Wyman  product_launches  nonpublic  low_growth  slow_growth  insights  customer_insights  value_destruction  disruption  insurance  new_products  obsolescence  countermeasures  volatility  customer_risk  one-of-a-kind  hedging  overly_cautious  risk-aversion  de-risking  double_betting  risk-management  bull_markets  customer_relationships  dark_data  risk-savvy  internal_controls  financial_risk  risks 
june 2012 by jerryking
Industry: Nimble, niche and networked - FT.com
June 12, 2012 | FT |By Peter Marsh

Nimble companies, operating on a global basis in niche areas of technology, that seem likely to prosper in the new industrial revolution now beginning. The fact that the UK is replete with such businesses suggests the country could emerge once again as a leading contender in manufacturing– a sector it pioneered in the 18th and 19th centuries but more recently has allowed to slip back in favour of services.......Although Britain may have the knowhow and cultural characteristics required to stage an industrial comeback, it still lags behind far behind the likes of Japan and Germany, where boutique companies making uniquely specialised products form the economic backbone of the nation. If Britain is to resurrect manufacturing as a high-value growth engine, it will almost certainly require some action by government to make the most of the country’s potential....hundreds of connections with companies around the world, which is one fundamental characteristic of the new industrial revolution. Three others involve the application of new technologies, a focus on “niche” areas of industry and an increasing focus on “personalised” products........Today the archetypal UK manufacturer is a small business with perhaps 50 employees that is based in an unremarkable edge-of-town business park and boasts global links as opposed to a highly visible smokestack in a large city. Such companies account for a greater share of industrial activity since the larger enterprises have fallen away.....The UK’s prevailing approach to manufacturing – emphasising small, agile businesses with an eye for the unusual that formulate their own rules – could fit in with the requirements for success......An individualist in the same mould is Sir James Dyson, a high-octane innovator who has made his eponymous vacuum cleaner business into a global leader. His dividing of the company’s Asia-based production from its UK-centred product development is in line with the blueprint of the new industrial revolution stressing the separation of elements in the manufacturing “value chain”......There are further reasons to think the natural leanings of UK manufacturing fit into the framework of the new industrial revolution. One is a tendency to focus on selling into areas with narrow parameters that can to a large degree be invented by the participating companies themselves, and to rely on selling services as well as products.......The best example is the Formula 1 car racing business. This involves intensive use of engineering resources to design and make high-grade machines that do little apart from playing the lead role in a global spectator sport built on advertising. There is no reason why Britain should have become the leading country for Formula 1 car production – apart from the fact that it fits with the UK leaning towards production based around esoteric technologies and markets......British industry also features a facility for working with a range of technical disciplines and finding the common ground between them. ......A third important strength of the UK is the ability to devise solutions to customers’ problems. These are often based on an approach geared to making products as highly customised “one-offs”, and to the needs of one business as opposed to many....The characteristics of the new industrial revolution, however, make the task of assisting UK manufacturing a lot simpler as the country already has many of the attributes required. In this new environment it would seem sensible for policy to plug the gaps in the manufacturing framework that already exists. Such initiatives could focus on helping companies to improve their technologies, develop more global strategies and organise more joint development projects with larger businesses in order to learn more about such groups’ technical capabilities.
3-D  boutiques  collaboration  competitiveness_of_nations  Dyson  Formula_One  gazelles  industrial_policies  Industrial_Revolution  James_Dyson  manufacturers  niches  nimbleness  one-of-a-kind  personalization  production_lines  product_development  specialists  United_Kingdom  value_chains 
june 2012 by jerryking
Ways to make excellence pay
October 17, 2007 | FT | By Alicia Clegg.

Bruce Hodgson, founder of Artichoke, a company that designs and makes bespoke fitted furniture for the very rich, has little ambition to be the biggest brand in his sector – but he would like to be the best. The same can be said of perfumer Linda Pilkington, creator of Ormonde Jayne, and Sean Dixon and Richard James, co-founders of Richard James, a Savile Row tailoring business whose turnover (something in “excess of £7m [$14.2m, €10m]”) is less stellar than its reputation and celebrity-gilded client base might suggest.

Serving the super-wealthy has never been the preserve of brands with super-sized sales. Quite the reverse. What the super-rich long for are not luxury labels but one-off, superbly crafted goods. Serving such customers allows talented artisans to work at the pinnacle of their craft. With this opportunity, however, comes a challenge: finding a business model that rewards exceptional skill.....The business model emboldening Mr Hodgson to raise his commercial sights grew from a partnership, in 1998, with the late David Telling, founder of the entrepreneurial business services company Mitie Group. Invited to pitch for a contract to make a boardroom table, Mr Hodgson produced a quote that Mr Telling dismissed as "too expensive". Something must have impressed him, however, as he personally invested £70,000 in Artichoke, donated land for a bigger workshop and became chairman.

Under Mr Telling'sstringent tutelage, Mr Hodgson swapped hand-to-mouth bookkeeping for management accounting. Artichoke learnt to break down the cost of complex projects and value work in pro-gress to a far higher degree of accuracy than most artisan businesses. Once certain of the numbers, Mr Hodgson developed a "contractually rigid approach" to payment. This gave him the confidence to tackle complicated proj-ects, in which deviations from the customer's original specifications can leave small contractors facing big losses.
artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  bespoke  brands  business_models  craftsmanship  furniture  high_net_worth  Savile_Row  mens'_clothing  fragrances  luxury  management_accounting  hand-to-mouth  one-of-a-kind  professionalization 
may 2012 by jerryking
Finding Info on a Unique Business - WSJ.com
June 6, 2006 | WSJ | Kelly Spors. When the Business You Want To Buy Is Hard to Find.

Many business buyers now search for acquisition opportunities online, but it does little good when seeking a rather unique business....Telephone everyone you can, mention the type of business you're seeking and ask whom they know who might be looking to sell. Even if they can't think of anyone, they may put you in touch with someone who can.
Kelly_K._Spors  buying_a_business  due_diligence  market_research  one-of-a-kind  uniqueness  hard_to_find 
may 2012 by jerryking
Viterra another example of Canadian short-sightedness - The Globe and Mail
ERIC REGULY | Columnist profile | E-mail
ROME— From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Mar. 23, 2012

The point is that Viterra is irreplaceable, certainly within our lifetime. Glencore is nabbing 63 grain elevators and seven port terminals in Canada that could not magically be built overnight should another group of investors decide to clone Viterra.

This industry has massive barriers to entry and that’s why Glencore, led by the ever-savvy Ivan Glasenberg, pounced. For him, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity (and pocket change compared to Glencore’s $45-billion market value). If he didn’t nail Viterra, he knew it would have disappeared into the maw of Archer-Daniel-Midlands, Cargill, Bunge, Louis Dreyfus or any of the other agribusiness heavyweights who know that food isn’t going out of style and that feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 just might translate into compelling growth story....If there is one industry that had a bright future, it was global agriculture and Canada had all the components: Land, water, fertilizer, technology, schools, expertise, infrastructure, agri-business companies. What it lacked was ambition.

Viterra could have been the foundation of a Canadian Glencore or Cargill. Now it’s a piece of someone else’s global vision.
Eric_Reguly  agriculture  agribusiness  barriers_to_entry  Viterra  M&A  mergers_&_acquisitions  farming  sellout_culture  short-sightedness  one-of-a-kind  Glencore  ADM  Cargill  Bunge  Louis_Dreyfus  vision  ambitions  uniqueness 
march 2012 by jerryking
David Gelernter: Steve Jobs and the Coolest Show on Earth - WSJ.com
OCTOBER 6, 2011 | WSJ | By DAVID GELERNTER

Steve Jobs and the Coolest Show on Earth
Like everyone who counts most in the world, he made himself up as he went along, occupied a job category whose total size was always one.
Steve_Jobs  one-of-a-kind  iconoclasts 
october 2011 by jerryking
3-D printers: Press a button and make anything
Nov. 08, 2010 | - The Globe and Mail | KEITH NORBURY. Two
decades ago, affordable laser and ink-jet printers fuelled the desktop
publishing revolution. More recently, three-dimensional “printing” has
spawned another revolution that promises to create new opportunities for
small businesses. ..While the technology is best-suited for making
one-of-a-kind prototypes, it can also be used for short-run
manufacturing. It’s a boon for inventors hesitant to spend upwards of
$100,000 on an injection mould before knowing how well their products
will be received. Ms. Kalbhenn’s company has done runs of 20 of an item
for as little as $265 for the batch, or a single, complex piece for as
much as $10,000.
3-D  printing  prototyping  speed  manufacturers  small_batch  one-of-a-kind 
november 2010 by jerryking
EBay Adds 'Flash' Fashion - WSJ.com
MARCH 29, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By GEOFFREY A. FOWLER
And RAY A. SMITH. EBay Adds 'Flash' Fashion
Business Model Takes a Page From Online Sample Sales. EBay Inc. will
launch "flash sales" of high-end fashion brands Monday in its latest bid
to revive its giant online marketplace. On a portion of its Web site
dubbed Fashion Vault, the company will offer discounts starting at 50%
off retail for a limited time, beginning with offerings from French
Connection Group PLC.
The business model, which follows a trial in the fall featuring Hugo
Boss, DKNY and Max Mara, takes a page from such Web sites as Gilt Groupe
Inc. and GSI Commerce Inc.'s Rue La La. Those sites have carved out a
fast-growing niche in e-commerce by offering the online equivalent of
one-off sample sales. The move is a departure for eBay, which has
generally billed itself as a neutral third-party marketplace that anyone
can join.
apparel  brands  EBay  e-commerce  fashion  flash_sales  high-end  high-growth  microsites  niches  one-of-a-kind  product_launches  Ray_Smith 
march 2010 by jerryking
On Web, Workshops to Create One-of-a-Kind Gifts
December 22, 2009 | New York Times | By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER. A
host of Web sites with names like Zazzle, Blurb and TasteBook are
helping people quickly create one-of-a-kind products like clothing,
books and jewelry. Customers love it, and the customization sites are
reporting sizzling sales growth.
artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  DIY  bespoke  Claire_Cain_Miller  one-of-a-kind 
december 2009 by jerryking
How to be a packager
Posted by Seth Godin on June 29, 2009

Seth was a book packager which has nothing to do with packaging and a bit more to do with books. It's a great gig and there are useful lessons, because there are dozens of industries just waiting for "packaging"....A book packager is like a movie producer, but for books. You invent an idea, find the content and the authors, find the publisher and manage the process. Book packagers make almanacs, illustrated books, series books for kids and the goofy one-off books you find at the cash register. Seth did everything from a line of almanacs to a book on spot and stain removal. It was terrific fun, and in a good year, a fine business.....there are advantages to this model (and not just for books).

First, the world needs packagers. Packagers that can find isolated assets and connect them in a way that creates value, at the same time that they put in the effort to actually ship the product out of the door. ...
Second, in many industries there are 'publishers' who need more products to sell. Any website with a lot of traffic and a shopping cart can benefit from someone who can assemble products that they can profitably sell. Apple uses the iPhone store to publish apps. It's not a perfect analogy, because they're not taking any financial risk, but the web is now creating a new sort of middleman who can cheaply sell a product to the end user. We also see this with Bed, Bath and Beyond commissioning products for their stores, or Trader Joe's doing it with food items.

Any time you can successfully bring together people who have a reputation or skill with people who sell things, you're creating value. If you find an appropriate scale, it can become a sustainable, profitable business.

The skills you bring to the table are vision, taste and a knack for seeing what's missing. You also have to be a project manager, a salesperson and the voice of reason, the person who brings the entire thing together and to market without it falling apart. Like so many of the businesses that are working now, it doesn't take much cash, it merely takes persistence and drive.

Here are some basic rules of thumb that I learned the hard way:

* It's much easier to sell to an industry that's used to buying. Books were a great place for me to start because book publishers are organized to buy projects from outsiders. It's hard enough to make the sale, way too hard to persuade the person that they should even consider entering the market. (PS stay away from the toy business).
* Earning the trust of the industry is critical. The tenth sale is a thousand times easier than the second one (the first one doesn't count... beginner's luck).
* Developing expertise or assets that are not easily copied is essential, otherwise you're just a middleman.
* Patience in earning the confidence of your suppliers (writers, brands, factories, freelancers) pays off.
* Don't overlook obvious connections. It may be obvious to you that Eddie Bauer should license its name and look to a car company, but it might not be to them.
* Get it in writing. Before you package up an idea for sale to a company that can bring it to market, make sure that all the parties you're representing acknowledge your role on paper.
* As the agent of change, you deserve the lion's share of the revenue, because you're doing most of the work and taking all of the risk. Agenting is a good gig, but that's not what I'm talking about.
* Stick with it. There's a Dip and it's huge. Lots of people start doing things like this, and most of them give up fairly quickly. It might take three or five years before the industry starts to rely on you.
* Work your way up. Don't start by trying to license the Transformers or Fergie. They won't trust a newbie and you wouldn't either.
Seth_Godin  howto  business_development  expertise  one-of-a-kind  licensing  patience  large_companies  voids  vision  persistence  change_agents  overlooked_opportunities  packaging  value_added  non-obvious  latent  hidden  information_synthesis  creating_valuable_content 
july 2009 by jerryking
Balancing growth, uniqueness
29/04/06 | reportonbusiness.com| by BERTRAND MAROTTE

t's a careful balancing act that Cirque and its founder and chief
executive officer, Guy Laliberté, are committed to, says Mr. Lamarre: Go
big, pursue growth, but not at the expense of the quality, creativity
and the uniqueness of your offbeat product, the very thing that made
your name in the first place.
Cirque_du_Soleil  growth  strategy  exclusivity  creativity  Guy_Laliberté  offbeat  uniqueness  one-of-a-kind  quirky 
april 2009 by jerryking
Business; Private Traders See Gold in Venture Capital Ruins
April 15, 2001 By AMY CORTESE This article is a tickler on the
issue of a KPMG's ICE group selling a service to evaluate and assess VC
and PE portfolio for the secondary market. What conceptual tools would
be needed to automate/systematize the process?
portfolios  secondary_markets  venture_capital  KPMG  due_diligence  exits  relationships  one-of-a-kind  valuations  discounting  bubbles  liquidity  tools 
december 2008 by jerryking

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