networking into reality

Monday, April 03, 2006

I felt that this deserved its own post.

As I was walking between my home and the apartments, I was thinking about how I can grow my business without any VC/Angel funding. At the end of the day, VC is great, but I can't bank on it being there for me.

So I came up with this. My origional idea was built around the use of long range digital radios that would allow me to monetize the relationships between ex-patriots within it's reach. But that's a little more capital intensive that I can afford right now.

I was thinking about Fiesta and its competition with other grocers. At least in Rosenberg, it seems to lag a distant third. HEB is the dominant force for high end neighborhoods like Greatwood. A segment of my Hispanic market lives there. Mostly your successful contractors and builders.

Wal-mart holds sway over the middle class. They also cater to a lot of Mexicans. They have a few products that are geared to their niche. Between providing cheap staples and some simple Mexican products they take a lot of potential business away from Fiesta.

So Fiesta does business with the poorest customers in this niche. They carry a lot of Mexico specific products and provide similar services. And yet Walmart and sometimes HEB eat their market share. There's also a Kroger in the area that squeezes the market for them.

Back to Fiesta. They are heavy into remittance to Mexico. They also provide bill pay and low cost utilities. So they are definitily focused on serving the same niche I am.

I could install a simple WiFi network in there store here in Rosenberg. Let customers make calls while their shopping, but restrict the geography. I watch a lot of people make calls to Mexico from pay phones in apartment complexes. Why can't Fiesta capture these people? With my WiFi network and Skype I can bring more customers to Fiesta. I'd be a layer in their relationship with their customers.

But what about the customers they already have. I bet it would help increase sales per customer. I'd say it's nearly a fact that the longer you stay in a grocery the more you buy. Say you go in for nothing but milk. They put it in the back hoping you'll see something else to buy on the way to the milk. And if you walk around looking after you picked up the milk, you'll probably find something else to buy.

The way I see it is that providing this Skype service in Fiesta would increase the average time that their customers new and old spend in their store.

I think I can increase Fiesta's metrics like sales per customer, revenue per sq. ft as well as total customers. I think I can help Fiesta win back market share in Rosenberg. This idea would also work for any other business in the Mexico niche here in Rosenberg so I should be able to find customers for this idea.

The only kind of company I can see it not working is restraunts. Keeping the same customers in the seats for 2 hours wouldn't be benificial for them.


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