Here’s my list of “a few-of-the-mostly-best innovations from the last year or so.”
Google’s password generator
I know, to a lot of people Google is part of the evil tech empire. All that aside, it may not appear to be big business model innovation – but it’s definitely disruptive. Google is making Chrome even stickier by managing a big pain point – password control – and they are giving it away for free (compared to one of the paid services like LastPass, 1Password, etc.). It’s not identical to the paid versions, but it’s probably close enough for most of us who are awful at creating strong passwords and can’t remember them anyway.
I’ve been using it here and there for services/websites that I visit infrequently and don’t have an app version. I am unsure of how the password would translate to the app, then what happens? I would imagine a more sophisticated version of this is in the works and will give paid versions a big run for their money.
Care by Volvo
When I first heard of Volvo offering a subscription model for their vehicles I was pretty floored. This is future-forward systems thinking and business model innovation at its finest. Volvo is really trying to create a future in which it can win versus being beholden to the trends that have been headwinds for the auto industry for a while. We often urge clients to “innovate from the future” and Volvo is definitely taking the reins here.
Imagine the Business Model Canvas for Volvo today, and what the future looks like with this offering – they are lighting up and changing the canvas in almost every way. The physical product stays the same (though not all models are available), but the value proposition, customer segments, partners, and revenue streams change dramatically. I’d love to know what dealers think of this and how Volvo is thinking about them long-term.
For fear of accidentally subscribing (to a car?!), I got all the way to payment online before abandoning. The prospect of not needing to go to a dealership to buy a car is very intriguing to me (full disclosure: I am not a “car person”). The thought of another sales associate begging me to give him all 10/10 reviews because if I don’t he will get fired is simply not an experience I need to deal with again (that plus just about everything else associated with car shopping). I’ll be in the market for a new vehicle later this year and this will definitely get a second look.
Quip’s electric toothbrush
I have been an electric toothbrush convert for a long time but was starting to have a love/hate relationship with my Sonicare. I was on my second or third model and starting to get irritated with the expense of new heads, the gross toothpaste/slobber sludge that accumulates inside, and the loss of a good charge when I’m on the road and don’t feel like bringing the bulky charging station (and that’s a lot). I was a bit reluctant to try anything new but then the Quip ads started following me around online constantly after my husband bought one (they still do follow me – nice work, Quip!) so I thought I’d give it a try.
Turns out this blog may have a subscription theme to it since that’s the biggest difference with Quip – a new head and battery delivered to your home every three months for just $5 (after the first purchase). Auto-delivery takes away the headache of remembering to change the head, something I always struggled to remember. It is available in stores, but I’m guessing online is its biggest channel. Not a ton of business model innovation, but just enough.
Besides the nifty channel and revenue innovation, this toothbrush is way nicer to look at, and it is much smaller than most electric brushes, so it’s great for travel. It also holds a charge with just a little AAA battery (for months versus days or maybe a week with my older brush) and if it didn’t, the brush head is actually big enough to be used as a manual brush in a pinch while the head on my old one was pretty much useless without the motor.
I have to give Quip a few dings, though. First, the environmental impact of the auto-delivery and the packaging aren’t great. I’d be willing to give up the convenience of auto-delivery reminders for a year’s worth of heads and batteries at a time. Second, Quip couldn’t get away from the toothpaste sludge completely, but they make cleaning sludge away with the old brush head part of the process of putting a new one on. Bravo, Quip.
My greatest first-world problem with the brush, though, is that the handle is too round! If you need two hands to squeeze the last blobs out of the toothpaste tube (there is always more in there, right?), you’ll be hard pressed to get the toothbrush to balance on the counter without making a mess.
Kohl’s stores with Amazon return counters
This one was a bit of a shocker – Kohl’s has Amazon store-within-a-store experiences and return counters in some stores. It’s definitely some serious business model innovation to partner with your biggest competitor to get more shoppers in the door!
The store-within-a-store concept isn’t that new anymore (e.g. Sephora at JC Penney, CVS in Target), but this approach is different. Kohl’s is letting Amazon showcase and sell some non-competing merchandise with the hope that the return counter draws in some new shoppers.
I’ll be honest that this one I haven’t seen for myself. I haven’t been to a Kohl’s in… a long time. But, this might get me in there and steal a trip or two from one of my other retail mainstays. Multiply that times many thousands and the gains will be significant. Neither Amazon nor Kohl’s has commented yet on how the partnership is performing (Kohl’s same-store sales have been up but holiday sales disappointed Wall Street), but even if this partnership fails, the learnings (to Kohl’s, mostly) will be invaluable.
Let’s talk about how we can help move your business forward.
Contact us today
to start a discussion.