retail news in context, analysis with attitude

This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.by Kevin Coupe

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

In the last couple of weeks, since 60 Minutes did what I think we all can agree was a virtual infomercial about Amazon and its founder/CEO Jeff Bezos, the word "drone" has taken on entirely new meaning, as story after story has speculated about the fact that Amazon is investing in drone technology that could be used to deliver packages in select markets in 30 minutes.

As I've pointed out here before, this idea has its proponents and its naysayers. Both sides have gotten plenty of time in the media to air their views (so to speak).

But y'know what Bezos was really selling when he unveiled the drone technology?

The power of a big idea.

Other companies are trying to figure out free shipping and two-day delivery, he seemed to be saying. But at Amazon, we've already done that … and now we're working on drones.

That's a huge statement, whether he believes it will happen or not. (I suspect he does, but that's just me. As the Monkees sang, I'm a believer.)

Take for example, a recent Washington Post story that talked about how most businesses have been unable to "fix the problem that's bedeviled retailers for years: How to get checkout lines moving more quickly — or to eliminate them altogether."

Sure, there are handheld portable scanners. There's self-checkout. And there are plenty of companies trying to figure out how to deal with this issue. But you'd think that in this day and age, when I can order practically anything from my computer and get it in two days or less for a minimal charge (if any), somebody would have figured out how to get rid of the checkout line, which typically ends the shopping experience in miserable or, at best, mediocre fashion.

They've figured out how to eliminate lines at toll booths. They've gone a long way toward eliminating - or at least streamlining - lines at airports and movie theaters. Why not at most supermarkets?

A big idea can capture not just the consumer's imagination, but the customer's business.

As we like to say here on MNB, in a time of fundamental change, incremental actions rarely suffice.

Jeff Bezos knows this.

Do you?

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

KC's View: