Nov 24, 2006

We need real world search engines

Some months ago, I was at home flipping channels on my TV mindlessly, waiting to get to a channel of my choice...the wait seemed endless. Navigating through 108 channels is no mean task and more than anything else a waste of precious time. What made the situation worse was that each time i'd memorize the numbers of my fav channels or pre set them in a sequence, the cable operator would do something to scramble it all up (yeah he didn't like me very much).

Anyway, on one of those days instead of cursing the cable guy, i sat back and started thinking...about how finding things is always such a pain!!! Whether its the news channel that you want to get to or that brand of whole wheat bread which has exactly 8% fibre....you HAVE TO go past a whole array of things you don't want to see. I fantasized about how life would be if i could just speak to my remote control and say...go to NDTV...now ! Or if i could just enter a super market and i'd have my 'lady in waiting' to get me JUST what i needed. (i know 'the lady in waiting' does not wait at a super market but its my fantasy and i am allowed to bring whoever i want).

I stopped fantasizing when i realised its not an altogether absurd idea. Argos has been doing this since 1973. For those not familiar, Argos, is a catalogue retailer - you walk into their store, you go through their catalogue, write down what you want on a slip of paper, pay, and wait to collect your goods. All this happens in under 30 mins ! And to think of it - i spend more time than that buying grocery!!! It cut shorts the 'time required to make a decision' because you are browsing through their fat catalogue not at their shop but in the comfort of your home...and if you see it you'll know how many SKUs they are dealing with.

Why don't we have catalogue grocery stores ? Makes sense to me - since after i have decided on what brands / product variants i want to buy - i don't need to see the product every time i'm buying it. I can always check for new versions in their catalogue - space that marketers could use for promoting new products.

This morning i read Susan's post about how we are all sinking under the information deluge and feeling guilty about not being able to keep pace - and what opportunities could arise for businesses as a result of this trend. Her post sparked a thought in my mind...if only we had search engines in the real world....in a world marked by needless and excessive choice...it would make living so much easier.

The Argos model is an indication of how 'real world search engines' could function. Its not without reason their tag line says ' Dont shop for it.. Argos it' ....now where have we heard that before? Google?

Argos,infoglut,infoguilt,real world search engines,

1 comment:

Haritrushi said...

Choice is bondage.

Choicelessness is freedom.