Last weekend, Caroline and I decided somewhat last minute to go see Oliver Stone’s ‘South of the Border’ at the Angelika in Soho. Usually we use Fandango to buy tickets online in advance, but this time, we didn’t, thinking that the city seemed quiet for July 4th weekend and no one would be around.
It was a sweltering hot day and as we approached the theater, I saw the line of people extending down the steps onto the street, everyone waiting to get tickets and get into the air-conditioned lobby.
So, I did what any internet geek would do. I pulled out the iPhone, opened up the Fandango app, and bought my tickets while walking up to the theatre. There’s even an option to show your tickets to the attendant on the iPhone screen – so I didn’t even have to use the automated pick-up machine (of which there was only one operating, with another line extending out the door). The whole process took about 20 seconds because the app knew my location, suggested the Angelika, and showed the most recent show times for movies. A few clicks, and the receipt was emailed to me.
More businesses need to pick up on the efficiency and simplicity of this experience. For example, if I could walk around Whole Foods and use my iPhone to scan items into a virtual cart and schedule it for delivery at my convenience, I would do that — why make me cart it and wait in line? (That said, I could also just use FreshDirect and stay at home). It makes me think that Best Products was in some ways ahead of its time – if only we had smartphones while we browsed the catalog or walked around the store creating our list to give the cashier.
More likely, we’ll see apps and processes like this extend to places like zoos, amusement parks, sporting events and concerts. It’ll get really interesting when it makes it as far as buying or renting a car (Zipcar has a huge advantage here), renting hotels or taking flights, or making other large purchases.
The commonality in all of this: taking non-critical steps off the critical path. It improves the experience, accelerates the process, and increases efficiency.