My Grocer is Getting Social With Me

Back in the day, when I was a toddler, the grocer was like a family friend. When we went into the supermarket, the butcher would see us coming and set his slicer to thinnest mode and get ready to cut some veal for Wiener schnitzel, just as my mother liked it, he would chew the fat with her and give me a saveloy.

Grocer’s over time became more impersonal and started focusing more on customer acquisition with ads and inserts in newspapers and local rags. Then of course subscriptions to the NZ Herald died down to a trickle and they went to a wireless subscription model, which started with a free Kindle for a 2 year subscription and the local papers are down to 1 per week if you’re in a well populated area.

Impersonal probably isn’t fair because of course I now have a tablet magnet mounted on my fridge which the F&P fridge scanner talks to and that send the order direct to my local Countdown  supermarket for pick up (if I want to touch and feel the fruit or extra little things) or home delivery. The tablet is connected to the home network and lets us watch cooking lessons, checking if we need any of the ingredients to be added to the shopping list, as well as the usual things like streaming music, TV, Skype, internet etc.  just as the other tablets around the house do.

Anyway, I was talking about the switch from acquisition to retention, or back to basics, but using modern technology. I was getting frustrated with the construction at our local supermarket, but am now so impressed with the way they have embraced social media in and out of the store with their new studio. Well it looks like a recording studio, but basically it has no window, so that you can talk to the guys while they are running Facebook, Foursquare Check-In Deals and Twitter campaigns with big video projector displays on the wall showing discussions they are having within and outside of the store.

These people are getting to know real customers and having relationships with them, generating loyalty that reminds me of the way grocers used to do it back in the day.

I remember the story that a friend told me many years ago, of how she went to Lincoln North Pak N Save with twin girls who were really hard to manage. The owner John Street went to her, gave her his business card and said to call him personally and he would arrange for someone to entertain the twins while she was shopping.

I spoke to him subsequently, although he didn’t know that I knew them personally and he explained. A loyal customer like her who spends around $150 a week (I know it was a long time ago) is worth more then $23,000 over 3 years. Now if you think about what it costs to get a new customer, an investment in social media, taken from what they used to spend on daily newspaper advertising isn’t much is it?

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Surrounded by Screens From Bed to the Stage

I woke up Sunday morning (only just morning it was 11:30AM, the night after an awesome gig I played in town last night) to the melodic song of the Tui and chirrup of the Fantail I had sampled in my front yard on my iPhone last weekend, played through the bedroom surround speakers, all but invisibly mounted in the ceiling corners of my bedroom walls.

I tapped on the bedside touchscreen, programming a flat white coffee to be ready in 20 minutes after I had my shower and selected the Billboard Country Top 100 to start playing in the bathroom, hoping there might be some new songs heading into the Top 10, like ‘If You’re Listening’, which I finally sold to Kelly Clarkson for her latest album. I swiped 23 degrees for the bathroom climate control and headed in for a shave. Hey, its winter and I like to be warm alright?

I could smell the aroma of the fair trade beans from my coffee as I walked into the dining room and flipped on my HoloDesk to check for news and see what my friends were up to this morning, thinking back to what an amazing night I’d had. I loved the HoloDesk, designed by my friend Kevin Andreassand of ICE AV in Auckland, which basically gave me all the benefits of an HD touch screen, but was projected in front of me as a hologram so that it wasn’t in the way of the dining table furniture. It was controlled by voice and hand gestures and one of Dropbox my favourite new tools ( think big boys toys).

As the first sips of coffee soothed my vocal chords which I had hammered last night with some raucous blues, I went to the fridge touchscreen and got it to sync with the pantry, placing an automatic grocery order with Countdown to be delivered that afternoon between 3 and 5. I was staying in today.

I’d planned last night’s gig for over a month and on the way in to the club last night I had quickly car Skyped my friends (the heads up display switched off the video when I put the car in gear) Andres Roots (in London recording a new album) and Charly Nice ( at his home studio in virtual Düsseldorf) who were going to be playing with me remotely, one of the benefits of the UFB project that finally brought high-speed internet into NZ. They were going to be joining me for the finally at about 12:30AM NZ time, gentlemanly hours for musos who played late and got up late.

I’d sent them links to the songs I had on the proposed set list and we had agreed on enough tracks so that we could build on the mood of the audience on the night and indulge ourselves as well, after all we’re musos. They came back with suggestions and some arrangement ideas and I synced them with my band tablets and put them up on Dropbox for the rest of the band to check out.

When I got to the club, I got out the music stand tablets, checked that the WiFi network was working and synced a copy to the sound engineer so that he could see the set lists and watch the music and lyrics we selected as we went through the night, including when the international guests would be joining us. I got my guitars out, caught up with the rest of the band, we ran sound checks and then did a sound check with Andres and Charly who were going to appear life-size on plasma screens with us.

I connected my guitars to the tablet on the stand in front of me with WiFi and using more of Andreassand’s IceAV technology, selected the virtual amps and effects I wanted, dragging them together with finger motions and syncing them to the pedal box at my feet.

Relaxing before the gig, we sent music videos to each other to check out, reminiscent of back in the day when people used to text each other in the same room, used our iPhones to order some light food and drinks from the bar and shot the breeze as you do.

I guess this has become a bit of a blog about the gig, rather than the screens, but I guess we take these things for granted today. Anyway this is my blog and I’ll tell it how it is:) So the highlight of the night for me was the last track.

I got out my Gibson Firebird XV (Looks very similar to the one to the left which I captured at the Memphis factory back in 2012) tapped on the touch screen at the top of the body telling it I wanted Open A tuning and selected a phat Marshall tube amp model, got out my original Tex Morton slide that came with my Tex Morton original guitar and had an amazing slide jam with Andres in London, with Charly playing some mean honking sax from his home in Düsseldorf. That Little Red Rooster crowed like all of its Christmas’ had come at once. 

The UFB meant that there was no lag in the music even though we were playing with guys who were on the other side of the world, it was amazing. As far as the audience were concerned they wouldn’t have known that we weren’t all in the same room and of course Andres and Charly were able to see and hear everything as of they were right there on the stage with us as it was all mic’d and video cameras were beaming it all back to them.

I was buzzing as I drove home, tapped the car entertainment system to play back the last set of the gig, through the in-car 7 speaker surround system, which had been recorded and instantly uploaded to my Spotify station, then tapped into my home controller to put the electric blanket and climate control on for when I got home at around 3AM, tired and satisfied. It had been a great night.