Credit card companies talk about “front of wallet”. With customers having a number of cards at their disposal, how does a credit card issuer ensure that their card is the customer’s card of choice; the card they will pull out first because it is at the front of the customer’s wallet?
How do you make sure that your website is “front of wallet”? One solution is to become the wallet. In Web 1.0 many organisations tried this, branding themselves as “portals” trying to be a one stop shop to do everything. The reality was that people liked to “jam jar” their experiences. They didn’t trust one one provider who did one thing well to sell them unrelated products; that just didn’t fit in their mental jam jar. They buy insurance from an insurance site, cars from a car site. So if they wanted to buy a car they would go to Autotrader. It was not a banks place to offer car sales in their portal offering. (The value proposition to the bank of course looked good on PowerPoint, sell people cars on the banks portal web and there was a ripe market for cross selling finance and insurance at the same time).
Web 2.0 brings a new “portal” to the playground. A concept rather than a product. Thus we have iGoogle and netvibes and mash-ups. No company can become the wallet, they must resign themselves to being the cards inside. They can do this by offering rss feeds and widgets. Making their content and functionality promiscuous, divorcing it from their site and allowing the customer to consume it how and when they want it. Sadly the banks have yet to grasp this concept. Their technically savvy customers would love to have their balances and recent transactions displayed on a widget or as a feed. Sadly they listen to the masses and their inherent conservatism prevents them from such offerings, killing it with what-ifs and unfounded security concerns (“what if a husband and wife shared the home computer and the wife saw suspicious transactions…” yawn).
Anyway, so there’s Twitter. I’ve signed up to it and for a long time it just sat there I had a subscription, but out of sight and out of mind. It wasn’t at the front of my wallet. It wasn’t even in my wallet. Until I got round to putting it on iGoogle. Suddenly it is visible to me. I see it every time I log in. I get bothered by the inane, uninteresting tweets that most of the people I follow burble, but I also update my status on it (and it updates my facebook status as well). Twitter is now part of my on-line experience. It is now front of my wallet.
Unlike the banks who I visit periodically to check my balance and pay bills (in-out, no lingering). Now if my bank balance was a feed on iGoogle I’d have more of an interest to drill down into more detail. I could manage my money better. I could establish a better on-line relationship with my bank. If they gave a little away, I’d give them so much more. But for now, they are back of my wallet.