“One of the best innovation stories I’ve ever heard came from a senior executive at a leading tech firm. His company had won a million-dollar contract to design a sensor that could detect pollutants at very small concentrations underwater.
It was an unusually complex problem, so the firm set up a team of crack microchip designers, & they started putting their heads together.
About 45 minutes into their first working session, the marine biologist assigned to their team walked in with a bag of clams and set them on the table. Seeing the confused looks of the chip designers, he explained that clams can detect pollutants at just a few parts per million, and when that happens, they open their shells.
As it turned out, they didn’t really need a fancy chip to detect pollutants — just a simple one that could alert the system to clams opening their shells. “They saved $999,000 and ate the clams for dinner.”
That, in essence, is the value of open innovation. When you have a really tough problem it helps to expand skill domains beyond specialists in a single field. Many believe it is these kinds of unlikely combinations that are key to coming up with breakthroughs.
If a newsstand and a vending machine had a baby… It might be the “NanoStore,” created by store automation vendor, AiFi Inc.
Essentially an automated self-service convenience store in a small footprint, NanoStore can be dropped into an indoor or outdoor space. Swipe a credit card to enter, and once inside it is “grab and go” cashier-less tech observed by sensors, cameras, and other tech.
Amazon Go in a box? A reduction in consumer friction? A good example of retail evolution popping up everywhere? Or, another “S.O.S,” victim of Shiny Object Syndrome? Just because we can build something doesn’t mean we should build it.
Payless ShoeSource is closing its 2,100 U.S. stores in what will be the largest-ever retailer liquidation when measured by the number of stores closing.
Payless was founded in 1956. In the 1990s the company sold 250 million pairs of shoes a year, in 2018 that number was estimated to be closer to 75 million pair.
Payless went through Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring less than two years ago and closed 500 stores. Creditors at the time became shareholders in the restructured company.
The company will begin liquidation sales at its U.S. and Puerto Rico stores this weekend. “We expect all stores to remain open until the end of March, and the majority will remain open until May,” a spokesman said.
The closings will increase pressure on already challenged U.S. retail malls, where Toys R Us, Sears, BonTon, and JCPenney have shut down stores. Payless said its international business, including Canada and Latin America will not be affected..