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Friday, December 11, 2009

The Most Wonderful(ly Exhausting) Time of the Year

The holidays are busy for service businesses. People spend more time out of their homes rushing between appointments and finishing to-do lists. Engaging more frequently in retail experiences, but also in other service that support their schedules and social calendars – haircuts, dry cleaning and babysitting for holiday events, coffee & restaurants for refueling on the go, air travel – the list goes on.

It surprises me there aren’t more services designed specifically for the mega-event the holidays have become, catering to weary people as they as they get busier and have to contend with too many activities, too little time, and throngs of additional traffic everywhere they go.

My gym nursery has a “drop & shop” service for parents that need to shop for gifts away from the inquisitive eyes of their kids. Personally, I envision scores of 4-year-olds already hopped up on holiday candy turning into a Lord of The Flies re-enactment, but this is exactly the sort of service that I’m talking about to give just a little time and space to someone at the busiest time of the year.

Most malls & major department stores have a gift wrapping service, but how about a porter (a gift valet?) to shuttle purchases to my car as I make them. Extending the delivery angle, a service that takes my shopping from multiple places and aggregates a delivery at my home? (if ever a viable grocery delivery business were to launch, the holidays would provide the delivery density needed more than any other time.) How about a personal holiday concierge that acts as back office support for the holiday project, arranging schedules, picking up groceries & drycleaning, and acting as a temporary domestic personal assistant?

Perhaps this is just wishful thinking from someone caught in the same time trap we all face this time of year. Businesses do well during the holidays as people increase their use product and service companies alike, but is there an opportunity to make the time & effort of consumption easier on people as they engage in the production of the major domestic event of the year?

1 comment:

Barry Dalton said...

Chris,
Great out of the box thinking on holiday retail services. And to add to your theme, those retailers that offered these services (I gotta figure there is a HUGE pent up demand for this, as peoples lives get more and more crazy) would most likely be able to rise above the water level of the holiday price wars, reduce the every-deepening dependence on sales to get foot traffic, increase sales and margins.

Have plenty of inventory and provide customers a one-stop experience. who wouldn't want that as opposed to running all over town (with packages in tow) for another two bucks off the hottest gift.

Well done!