Billion Dollar Idea: The Card
In my wallet, I carry a driver’s license, two library cards, three insurance cards and a drug cards, four credit cards, a Costco membership, a National Car membership, and then cards for Albertson’s, Ralph’s, and Pavillions. (I saved a little bit of space by putting a sticker from Rite-Aid onto my Albertson’s card, but this always puzzles the clerk’s at Rite-Aid’s checkout.) So when Panera Bread asks me if I want a membership card? Hell no. There’s no amount of every fifth pastry free that can get me to carry any more cards.
Solve it with apps? Frankly, I don’t want clutter on my phone any more than in my wallet. Just tell you my phone number? I don’t want to. You’re welcome to track my purchase habits, but you can do it anonymously, thank you very much
So, enterprising rich dude somewhere, I recommend you find a way to implement a single card. Several new companies (Wallaby, Coin, Plastc) do this for credit cards only, but I’ll sign on when it works for ALL cards.
Granted, there would be a huge start-up cost in building out the infrastructure. There would have to be a web site where a customer could manage their various memberships. Ideally, there would be kiosks in participating stores that allow you to add your other memberships by swiping your old cards to connect them to your new one. But the upside? Customers would have sincere motivation to move to this new, single (perhaps thicker) Card, so there’s little conversion cost. Meanwhile, perhaps you could offer them greater anonymity. What do you need besides their zip code? If you don’t ask me for my address and phone number, I’d probably tell you my race and gender, which should be more valuable towards statistics. Even if you get no information at all, you have an amazing product for sale: user tracking data across ALL participating stores.
Marketing companies would pay a premium, and I could have a thinner wallet.
When you’re done with all of that, please put it on my iWatch.
Readers: What do you need to be offered to sign up for a store card? How many cards do you carry?