Future of Shopping discussed on BBC Radio Nottingham

Recently, Sainsbury’s shared that they are testing an app to enable a checkout-free shopping experience.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking… another app I have to download… well… yes, it is another app you have to download, but this time, this app, you can use to scan your shopping as you walking around the store (similar to those handheld devices you can pick up in store) and then at the end of your shop, you simply go to a dedicated check-out and pay.

But hold on – you said checkout-free…

Yes, I sure did – and similar to the Amazon Go store, they’re also trialing in London, at their Euston branch an app where if you walk in and pick up the £3 ‘On the Go’ meal deal, you can scan the items on your phone, pay on your phone and then leave the store.

Hopes are… that they increase the number of items and stores, where you can have the checkout-less experience.

And this will, soon, become the norm… as I shared on BBC Radio Nottingham yesterday morning.

Feel free to listen via the link below – you can listen to Mark’s whole show, or you can fast forward to about 13:30, to listen to me… (it’s via the BBC and you may have to log in and register if you’ve not already signed up – which takes the best part of 2 minutes).


What car you got?… A Dyson.

That’s right… you’re in a swanky bar in Central London, sipping on your over-priced Gin, and the question comes from your colleague… “So, I hear you have a new car.. What car you got?”…. the reply, “A Dyson”.

It’s going to happen.

The company that found an innovative way to vacuum your house, are.. or should I say, have… been working on an electric vehicle.

They’re aiming to launch them in 2020. And you know what, that’s only around the corner! On top of this, they’re investing over £2bn…

They’re aiming for the top end of the market – It won’t be cheap. On top of this, it’ll be ‘radically different’.

And for it to be a success, it has to be, right?

Let’s be honest, you have every motor company working on and releasing electric vehicles. BMW, Volkswagen, Ford, Toyota, etc…

Then you got the new boys in town, such as Tesla.

And why not open that market up. Gone are the days, where the industry was dominated by Ford and General Motors.

And i’d expect, anything that the brand, ‘ Dyson’ works on.. has to be radically different. They’ve set the bar… for example, the vacuum.. then the hair dryer, and many other items they’ve released, they’ve all been radically different. And with the radical thinking and design, their car is being kept under top secret conditions. Well, you wouldn’t expect anything less.

I’m expecting more and more players (companies) to enter the fierce competition within the electric car market. There will be some top players… (aiming at the top end of the market), There’ll be the mid-market (maybe the existing manufacturers such as Toyota, Ford, Volkswagen) and then the lower end… for which, I’m not sure who’ll be operating in this space.

Because it’s not cheap. To develop an electric car can’t be cheap.

But then, it comes to customer requirements. If you’re going to go to the shops and back, maybe into town and minimum driving, why couldn’t one of those electric disability scooters be adapted for the needs of some people?

You’re probably thinking.. this isn’t going to work.

Why not? – add another seat (make it a 2 seater). Put a roll cage around it. Up the battery. Maybe get a steering wheel, and some different wheel options… and before you know it, you got yourself a 2-seater electric sports vehicle!

It’s all about thinking differently.

Which brings me back to Mr Dyson, and his announcement. Which you can read in full below…

We are Uber Sorry…

Dara Khosrowshahi, the Uber Boss… has come out and apologised.

Taking over, at Uber, for less than under a month, he said.. “On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologise for the mistakes we’ve made.”

I’ve mentioned it before in my blog, and i’ll mention it again… Uber are not perfect.

They know internally they’ve got to made some improvements and they’ve said it in an open letter.

And that’s a great start – a bit like Alcoholics Anonymous (so i’ve heard) that the first step is, admitting something is not right.

From there, you have the support network and people that want you to get better… stop the drinking, go sober, enjoy life and work together.

I just feel though, that isn’t quite happening with Uber.

Yes, you might have heard, Transport for London are stripping them of their license to operate in London. What does this mean for the 3.5 million people who use Uber in London, but more importantly… the 40,000 licensed drivers for Uber?

Well.. i’d hope there’s be some conversations taking place… maybe someone who’s in charge of the TfL and Uber? – but then I read this…

Well, this just gets better and better.

The Mayor of London, and also, the chap responsible for the TfL is not prepared to meet Uber.

There’s me thinking, London was Open… for innovative companies to come and apply their trade. Obviously, they have to follow the laws and rules of the land, naturally. And if there’s something they don’t understand, they ask – and if they’re not doing it correctly or something is not right – they should be informed.

You wouldn’t think, it’d take 5 years… that’s correct. Uber has been operating in London Since 2012.

So is London open for Innovative companies?

Is it open to work together? Share, understand and collaborate?

David Leam, of London First which campaigns for business in the capital, said: “This will be seen as a Luddite decision by millions of Londoners and international visitors who use Uber, and will also hit London’s reputation as a global tech hub.”

That’s right – One minute we’re calling for the world to come and set up shop in London… bring your new technology and open hubs in London.

But then, on the other hand – we’re not really working with these tech companies, are we?

When traditional methods are challenged… is this what happens?

James Farrar, chairman of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain’s United Private Hire Drivers branch, said “To strip Uber of its licence after five years of laissez-faire regulation is a testament to a systemic failure at TfL,”

All I’m hoping for is, there is a resolution and Uber is allowed to operate. Their mistakes are highlighted and they implement a plan of action to fix them.

If they are not compliant to certain rules and regulations, then these are highlighted to them and once again, they put in measures to ensure they are compliant.

Then this type of collaboration, between local governments, councils, transport boards, innovative tech companies, etc… can a) show the world – London is Open, but you got to work within the rules and we’ll help you… and b) don’t be afraid of change… let’s embrace it.

Saying all that… we’ll have self-driving cars soon, right? – wonder what the black cab drivers will say about that! Dare not ask right now 🙂

“Some News is better than No News…”

Yesterday, I had a scheduled flight at 18:15 from Barcelona back home.

I got to the airport in good time. No rushing around… calmly made my way through security, managed to pick up a cup of tea in the waiting area and made my way to the gate when it was announced.

Only thing – the flight was cancelled.

You can imagine the calmness went out of the window and years of doing FMEA’s (Failure Mode Effect Analysis) in my head of these type of situations made me prepared.

So walks out the pilot…

Along the lines of… “Ladies and Gentleman, we have just inspected the plane, and noticed there was something not right – by that I mean there was some damage. I’ve just sent the information to Heathrow – and they’ll get back to me”

Questions from the public were – “how long do we wait? what are the alternatives? how bad is the damage?, etc…

The Pilot’s phone rings – and then he shares some more information..

“Okay.. Heathrow have said it’s not safe to fly with that damage. I do apologise. I know you all want to get home, and we’ll ensure everyone is taken care off – there’s a few folk at the desk that will help you either catch a later flight and or look at other options”

The possibility of staying in the airport begins to dawn on me.

As the pilot is walking away, a number of folk are asking all sorts of questions to him…

“I know it’s not something you wanted to hear. But some news is better than no news”.

Totally agree.

Imagine being stood there for hours, and not knowing what is going on. We were originally informed the flight was delayed.

To a) receive this information – that the plane is damaged and unable to fly – we straight away have a clear reason immediately to why it’s cancelled (and safety first – I want to get home… alive), and b) we have people to help re-arrange flights, and ensure that everyone, at some point, will be on a flight home – therefore we have options. 

I liked the way this was handled by the Pilot – not sure if this is British Airways policy, that the Pilot comes and talks to the passengers or it was this individual that took on the accountability and responsibility to inform passengers.

Either way – Many of the passengers felt slightly better because they knew why it was cancelled and they knew they had options.

And that’s what we needed, to allow us, move quickly through the change curve…

It’s these stages that can sometimes not appear… take too long… or not be handled correctly, that allow us to stay in either Denial or Anger… the quicker we get to exploring options and acceptance, the better.

Things will go wrong… I believe we all know that… and from time to time, something can happen out of our control… but ensuring we have 1. Information and 2. Support – then we can start to look to the future, quicker.


Toys R No More…?

You may have just heard in the news… the toy retailer, known as Toys R Us has just filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in the USA and Canada.

The giant… has over $5bn in long term debts.

That is not good.

So they’re going to re-structure their debts and work out how they can move forward with their business.

And that’s my question… how can you move forward?

When I first found this out… I immediately thought of Kodak.

We all know the fate and how it turned out for Kodak (for those who are unaware, they do still operate as I still receive information about my pension… which I won’t be receiving for a long time yet…!)

Let’s be honest – most purchases are made through a handful of on-line retailers. Yes – for particular items you’ll go to specific stores, you may have discount codes, loyalty scheme, etc.. And you’re probably right in guessing who the big players are.. or who the biggest player is… yep… Amazon.

It started with books…. then Electronic items… and now, you can buy virtually everything on-line through Amazon.

But is it all their fault? … I don’t think so. Have they had a part to play… yes, but then there’s other factors to take into account.

Competitors, marketing strategy, etc… there’ll be a number of factors. But let’s be honest. The biggest factor has to be the move from physical store to on-line stores.

We’re all busy. we’re all doing something or other.. and when we realize there’s a birthday, function, Christmas, etc.. we need a toy… we’re more likely to grab our phone and have a look on-line rather than drive down to the local store to have a browse.

Will toy stores completely disappear from the high street? I think yes… eventually, and not too far in the future, items you don’t need to ‘try on for size’, feel, hold, taste, etc… will be purchased more on-line rather then people buying them in store.

To be fair, even the items we need to ‘try on for size’, feel, hold, etc… we are buying more and more on-line…. as the returns process is simple and moreso, we have the information we need to make a more educated assumption that the item we are purchasing is fit for purpose.

So, back to Toys R Us… it’s unfortunate… I hope they are able to re-structure their debts and keep going. Maybe they need to have a re-design… rather then selling toys, open Toy Centres… where you charge $x to bring your children in, play with the toys, then leave… (without the toys) and if they do want to play with the toys at home, then you hand an iPad device to the parents to make the purchase on-line and it’s delivered home by the time they get there…

Glad this is well in advance of Christmas… then again, i’m sure Amazon or other on-line retailers would have them in stock ready for next day delivery… thanks to me being a Prime customer.

How much for a phone?!

So, as promised from my Lean Thinking facebook page, here is my blog post and thoughts about the event from yesterday by Apple.

We all knew it was coming.

To be fair, we kind of knew what was coming.

And now it starts… people waiting for their new iPhones and watches… let’s be honest, we watch it on the news – remember the time when the person in Australia got their new phone and the news reporter said, let’s have a look and as he was taking it out, it fell on the floor!!

Well…. i’m not going to review everything that was mentioned. Neither am I going to tell you to go and buy the iPhone X (which is actually 10) or the iPhone 8. That decision is yours – based on what you got now, how much money you got to burn and if you really need the additional features right now.

And that’s the thing. A lot of tech is great. And we’re using our phones more and more rather than making calls!

It’s true.

A recent study showed that we tend to message, take photo’s, videos, etc.. more than actually make phone calls on our devices. So is it right to still call it a phone? Is it not a multi-media, multi-operational, multi-everything i want it to do, type of device?

And believe you me, i’m all up for carrying less devices. But then it’s the cost.

$999 for a phone is a lot of money.

I’m sure you could go out and buy a car for that much!

In fact, you can….

To be fair, there’s a lot of technology stacked into that little device. We’ve now got Augmented Reality, facial recognition, and much more…

There’s a lot more you can do. And if you are spending that sum of money, then you’d want to spend that amount of time on it!

There’ll be plenty of people ‘needing’ a device like that for hobbies and activities, such as film making – that’s right, you could film and edit a whole film on the phone – would it be good as the traditional camera’s that are out there, no. But then, they cost a lot more money than the phone. Device.

But it’s the whole eco-system that Apple have created which works so well.

You have the watch – which is fantastic. I got one of the first ones, and absolutely love it.

Then there’s the operating system. Which for me, seems to be going from strength to strength each time they release a new version.

And so we now have it. A phone, that costs the same as a second hand BMW with beige interior.

To be fair, that’s like comparing Apples to Banana’s.

You can’t compare an old car to the latest, technology filled mobile phone. Device.

The less you can carry, the more you can do, and the fun you can have… may be worth the price you’re going to pay. As the saying goes, you do get what you pay for – and yes, you’re paying a lot of money for the phone, (device) but then you are getting a lot.

So, did you watch the whole event? It was a couple hours long, and there’s various links available where you can go and watch it. But I found a 12minute video (and that, Ladies and Gentlemen is why this blog is called Lean Thinking….) 2 hours into 12 minutes, which does a good job of telling you what you need to know from yesterday’s event.

Old to new… it’s electrifying!

For those who follow me on instagram (@mrbalbansal) you may have noticed in my one of my stories earlier this week, I posted an image of my car.. which was plugged in.

That’s right… battery was low, I had an opportunity to plug it in… so I did.

Got me thinking… we’re going to need some more of these charging points at work. At home. At… well, everywhere.

And whilst we’re talking about needing more charging points in the UK… Jaguar made the announcement they will stop production of petrol or diesel only cars.

That’s right – from 2020… all Jaguar cars will be electrified. Either hybrid or all electric models will be available.

Right now… Jaguar don’t produce any electric cars. This will be a big step for them. They’ve shared concept cars and ideas, but are well behind the likes of Tesla.. BMW… and other car manufacturers in terms of development and knowledge.

Not saying they can’t do it. They sure can… they have the know how, the expertise, willpower and more importantly.. the objectives (which have now been set) to do it.

How do I know they can do it?

It’s simple… they’ve done it. Just got to scale it.

How have they done it?

Well… they’ve taken a classic… and electrified it.

How can you electrify a classic?

Easy… you take a classic model and then redesign it for the future.

What a great idea – whilst this will help the brand.. and sell a few cars, we need to think on a larger scale.

Mass production – as Mr Henry Ford brought to us, from the traditional craft production, is what helped the motor car to be owned by more people. Build and stock them high… sell them low…

Thankfully, the Japanese taught us about inventory and stock control… therefore we now are able to have more varieties… of what we want (not just a stock car from the inventory list of a dealer) and most importantly.. keeping the cost down.

So whilst i’m confident that Jaguar can actually do this… like most, i’m guessing, there are a few concerns which i’ve discussed previously about charging stations/points… and let’s be honest, 2020 is not that far away.

Including this year – that’s 3 X-Factor winners! – and just to think… Little Mix were crowned winners in 2011!!

I’m hoping the winner in 2017 has the same luck and progression as Little Mix.. and i’m hoping Jaguar can achieve their goals… espeically, if they’re experimenting and building cars like this…


I want more…

I’ve recently been looking in more detail at technology embedded within wearables, or as they’re known… Smart Wearables.

Smart Wearables are devices, you can wear, which are smart. For example, smart watches, smart glasses, etc… you could call them smart accessories. There’s even smart rings… and clothing that is getting smart, such as smart shoes, and t-shirts being wired to transmit information to your phone…. which i’m guessing, will have to be a smart-phone.

There’s news and rumours of the next generation iWatch – which will have more capabilities, for example…you don’t need to sync with your iPhone, etc..

And lets be honest. This is happening very quickly.

It only seems like a few years ago the iWatch came out…. in fact it was, April 2015 it was released. And the number of improvements and advancements that have been made are phenomenal.

It can take calls, it can show you messages, it can alert you when your Uber is arriving, you can connect several apps to it… and it can tell you when you have to get up and walk around.

Which is great! – but what about those fitness trackers? – you know, like Fitbit and Jawbone.

Well… I paused and thought, I know Fitbit have several devices but haven’t heard from Jawbone.

Well, there’s a reason behind that. The company that had raised $590m through various rounds of fundraising and was valued at $3bn, is no longer as we know them.

That’s right – they’ve gone off the radar… not responding to messages… and are in liquidation.

I agree – feeling great is a very good look. But unfortunately, it’s not gone according to plan for the company. They had a great strategy…

But people want more.

More than just telling me about my fitness. Why can’t I wear something that will tell me more than the number of steps. Why can’t I have a device that will send messages, or show me my instagram feed… or even link with my Philips hue and turn the lights on?

As technology advances, our needs do to.

We want the technology to do more. To deliver more. To make tasks easier and simpler for us.

And to be fair, it’s doing it. The Smartwatch is doing that for us. Technology is enabling it.

And companies have to keep up. It’s sad for Jawbone… but I can see, others still doing really well, such as Fitbit and Garmin – who have recently added the ability to make contactless payments from their wearable devices.

It’s that kind of thinking that enables us customers to do more… with less.