retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy...

So, I've just had an experience that I think speaks to ways in which retailing has changed ... not just for retailers, but for consumers.

Like a lot of guys, I've always carried around a wallet that is sort of big - not because I have a lot of money, but because it tends to be stuffed with receipts, credit cards, bank cards, frequent flyer cards, insurance cards, and the like. I would try to clean it out from time to time, but it was just one of those efforts that never seemed to accomplish much.

But then, through a random chain of events, things sort of changed.

Last summer, when I was interviewing the novelist Ace Atkins, I noticed that he was wearing a shirt with a small logo that I did not recognize. I wanted to add some color and specificity to the piece, so I did a little research and found out that the company that made it was called Ball and Buck, and it specializes in a variety of leather goods and men's clothing made in the USA. Well, when I was checking out the site, I noticed that Ball and Buck was advertising a new leather wallet that it said was incredibly thin, made with "the finest leather in America," that would hold all the cards I needed. I was intrigued, and what grabbed my attention even more was the fact that this wallet, which would retail for $88, had not been manufactured yet ... the company was running a Kickstarter campaign, and wouldn't make the goods until it had $10,000 worth of orders - at $48 a wallet.

Now, this was interesting to me. A company that wouldn't make the product until customer acceptance was guaranteed. And I might get a product that would make my old, bulky wallet obsolete. So I signed up, and ordered a wallet.

Over a six week funding period, Ball and Buck got $61,255 worth of orders, well in excess of the $10,000 worth it was looking for.

That was about two months ago. This week, the new wallet showed up ... and I love it.

But not only do I feel sort of invested in the purchase because of the way the transaction took place, but I've also had another sort of revelation ... and that is how many of the cards I was carrying around in my old wallet simply are irrelevant.

I carry two debit/credit cards, one for personal and one for business. A business credit card. My driver's license. And my health insurance card. My Zipcar card. And a Costco card, because it does not appear that one can use the Costco app instead of carrying a card around with me.

But that's about it.

Because the reality is that pretty much every other card I was carrying can be replaced by an app on my iPhone.

And it isn't hard to imagine that at some point, most of these cards are going to go away, replaced by biometrics or apps or some other technology that I'm not smart enough to think of by myself.

Because we're connecting ourselves to specific retailers and/or service providers in all these ways - whether through helping to fund the creation of a product, or using technology to create shortcuts and convenience - this is an enormous opportunity for the retailer to reach out to the customer in new and different and increasingly relevant ways.

If you don't, it is an opportunity missed. But if you do ... well, the rewards on both sides could be enormous.

That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

KC's View: