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04/29/2010

A Web Service Suite of Businesses

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Products like cigars and wine are extraordinarily complex to shop for as a consumer. The range and selection are so vast, and the subset that any given store carries is so relatively small that it can take decades before the act of shopping can become a comfortable process.

This should be fixable with a web service that would allow consumers to create a profile that would allow them to record, reference, and rate their purchases and then use the aggregate data of all the users to help suggest possibilities for new choices. The web service aspect of it could be further enhanced by an RFID chip in a credit card that could talk to the servers in any given store or restaurant to compare a customer's total known history with the business establishment's current on-hand inventory to produce effective recommendations.

Imagine being in a restaurant and having the waiter bring over both a general wine list and a custom laser printed list of suggestions based on the wines you'd already tried, and liked, and the wines others who liked the wines you liked suggested.

Imagine walking into a cigar store and not finding anything familiar. You ask the person behind the counter if he/she can make any suggestions. They ask if they can read your card. You say sure, and they take a look at what you've liked in the past and cross-reference those against the products they have on hand to help find an ideal match.

It's such a massive boon to businesses that membership could be essentially free for the consumer. First businesses get signed on and get their inventory loaded into the database, then consumers get offered free cards and even incentives to start filling in their preferences. Most of the activity could even be passive. The RFID chip in the card announces itself to the POS system and any purchases made get automatically added to the webservice database, and prompts can go out to remind the consumer to rate those recent purchases.
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Dan Waber
 
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