The Take #12: Baristas be gone?

Are barristas and cashiers on their way to the unemployment line because of mobile?

My name is Rob Woodbridge and this is The Take. Episode #12

I think we can all agree that mobile is having a profound impact on the way we shop but what about the way we order our morning latte or afternoon crumpet? Could those friendly faces dutifully writing our names down improperly be replaced by the screen in our pockets?

Remember Square? That payments startup launched by Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey that made it easy for ma and pa shops and the girl guides to accept credit cards? They started a new order and pay ahead service aptly named Order while abandoning the mobile wallet. It’s interesting because they essentially traded the now for a bet of the next.

With that, there are some perils and a great article by Steven Jacobs on StreetFight lays it out very well. He says that the thing going against Square at this very moment is that to do what they are trying to do would require an infrastructure that is currently not in place. Both technology and human. The Order service isn’t actually streamlining an existing process, it is creating a new one – and this confuses many many many humans and many many many technologies.

The other challenge happens when, as Steven says, companies try to build platforms. We’ve seen many companies try – especially in mobile – only to realize the platform requires girth. It requires buy in. It requires users. It requires and requires. And then, along comes Apple or Amazon or the credit card companies or the carriers with all their customers and all their platforms and a switch that enables buying the, boom, no more other platform. Just payment hegemony.

Order ahead is not a new form of business – we order pizza and chinese food don’t we? But the ordering and payments via mobile are. This is just an evolution of an existing service, the challenge is to make it helpful, useful and easier than what it is today. Do that and users will come. Force the issue too soon and you’ll be called a pioneer as you watch others eat your lunch.

My name is Rob Woodbridge and this has been The Take.

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

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