Sunday, April 22, 2007

How In-and-Out Burger led to Wii

I landed Friday night hungry from my Palm Springs flight (US Partner Conference), and after checking in, asked the front desk clerk the location of the nearest In-and-Out Burger.

On the way to In-and-Out Burger in the rented Avis Chevy Malibu, passed by Long's Drugs and checked to see availability of Schiff Move Free medicine (always a request from TW relatives when I visit US). Move Free was out, but they were getting stock in the next day, so I returned the next morning and at the complex there was a comics store.

After stocking up on Move Free I entered the comics store and browsed for TMNT comics for G as he recently had seen the TMNT movie.

I had passed a Circuit City and was going to check for Wii availability when the guy in the comic store suggested I check out Best Buy (just up the street).

I figured by now (almost half a year since release) it should be relatively easy to purchase a Wii, but the Best Buy store clerk told me they were sold out. However, they were getting stock the next day and I should arrive a couple hours early if I wanted to get one. He said the store opened at 10:00 AM (found out later it was actually 11:00 am). Since he told me to arrive at 8:00 AM, I was planning on arriving at 7:30 AM just to be safe.

Next morning I woke up at 6:00 AM and was still planning to arrive at 7:30 AM as the hotel starts serving complementary breakfast at 7:00 AM. I went online and started getting nervous reading about other people's Wii purchase experiences, so I left early and arrived there at 6:30 AM with book and iPod in hand. There were 12 people in front of me, the first guy in line got there at 4:00 AM.

Soon after I arrived a line grew after me. Around 9:30 AM an employee came out and said there were 21 units (big sigh of relief), and they would hand out numbers an hour before that would be valid for an hour after the store opened.

11:00 AM the doors opened and we were told to go in single file to collect our units (one/person) and any games, accessories that we wanted. After fending off the aggressive warranty upsell, I bought my Wii, Wii Play (extra controller, plus other games), and a Super Paper Mario game (G's birthday present).

And that is how a trip to In-and-Out Burger led to getting a Wii.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Suggestion for Taiwanese government agencies- provide value and generate revenue

Directed at Taiwan government agencies, but applicable to other countries as well.

Health cards, ID cards, driver's license, passports....

No one likes providing photos to government agencies. Pain to either take a picture, or bring a file to the shop, return to said shop after a period of time to pick up the photos. Also photo requirements change from time to time so those that were printed before and laying in an envelope in a desk somewhere may not still be acceptable.

Since there's about 16 million Taiwanese between ages 15-64 (CIA World Factbook) , even if someone only had to update those listed above once every 10 years (not including lost or other reasons to update photos), that's still a whopping: 64 million pictures every 10 years or 6.4 million pictures/year.

Suggest government agencies have these photo machines inhouse and offer citizens the option to either:

a. provide their physical picture as usual
b. email a digital file (requirements/samples clearly laid out) for an additional fee

The proposition for option b is quite compelling because:

a. adds real value to customers (no need to find out specific picture dimensions, and saves time required to process pictures).

b. government has files on hand, can print exact size needed, and earn extra revenue while providing a valued service (could even flag the picture and then send out an automatic notification after x number of years to send an updated digital file).

Even if only 10% of people chose to pay the additional fee (say NT$50, roughly US$1.50) and let the government handle everything that's an additional NT$32 million/year (roughly US$1 million).

No idea what the initial or maintenance costs of these machines are, but if we say US$250,000 would cover machines, inhouse staff training, and maintenance within 12 months that's a 4X ROI. Plus customers are a lot happy.

Of course if more people choose the service or the pricing was slightly higher that's even a higher ROI.

A single government agency could pilot it and if it caught on replicate the model to other government agencies.

The benefit: happier citizens, price picture sizes for government agencies, and more revenue.