3G and Long Tail


The first thing that you learn when you decide to open a retail store is that location is the single most important factor of success. I learned that lesson the hard way, when I bought a franchise business many years ago. It took me months until I found a store that was in a good location and didn't cost a fortune to rent. (yes, there are dream properties like this, but you really need to be lucky and well-connected) That was back in the early '00s and I was living in Greece at the time.
Fast forward to the year 2010 or so. 3G phones have reached mainstream status and location based services like socialight are widespread. You walk down a busy street looking for a quick snack. You check your mobile phone and you see that there is a bakery just around the corner, in a small street . You take a right and walk there. You look for it and you realize that you can barely see it as it's partly hidden behind a tree. You enter the store and you get a muffin and a cup of coffee. Delicious. You have just discovered a hidden gem.

Hidden? Well maybe with today's standards. In fact you would never have found it today, unless you had been there before and you knew about it. Because chances are that you would never have left the busy street in the first place. Even if you had accidentally made the turn to the little street, the big tree would have hidden the little bakery.

Not anymore. In the near future people will not be prisoners of the main street anymore. It's the story of the long tail again, only this time it's happening in the "real world". Instead of having the top locations getting 90% of the traffic, people will now discover new content (in this case restaurants, bars, shops etc) that is "off the beaten track". And small shop owners who can not afford to pay rents in the main street, will stand a better chance to win customers and compete with the big, established retailers. I like this idea. Maybe then I can open the chocolate-wine -coffee-books shop that I have always dreamed about and retire.