Student offers free 'billion dollar idea' on inventory software

Jesse Pollak, soon-to-be sophmore at Pomona College in Claremont, CA, offers up an idea he's too young to implement: a way for brick and mortar stores to compete with online shopping.

In his blog post "A Billion Dollar Idea...That I Know I'm Not Ready For," Pollak suggests someone build an inventory management program and give it, free, to retailers. In exchange, current inventory information can be provided to shoppers via smartphone. In his example, you search for "umbrella" and stores physically close to you with umbrellas in stock pop up on your screen. But developing the software is too much for Pollak right now.

Pollak's idea would combat "showrooming," where shoppers scan price tags on items to search online for lower prices. An approach detailed by NPR in March in "To Keep Customers, Brick-And-Mortar Stores Look to Smartphones," offers other ways to fight showrooming. Mentioned in the story is Nearbuy Systems, but has Milo already solved the problem Jesse Pollak offered for free?

Bright kid

I was part of a start-up in 2000 that was trying to do the same. The marketplace wasn't ready for the idea. But I think it's a great one.

Wayne on jessepollak.me

If you think a little, this is "OpenTable for shopping."

fizx on news.ycombinator.com

Pro: You get a free inventory system Pro: You show up on local search results

the_bear on news.ycombinator.com

Just a few tiny changes

A 'middle-man' purely API service. You connect to all the retailers (different) API's, and normalize them so that on the other side someone can call `product.quantity` or `product.cost` or `product.location` from any retailer and get a normalized output.

Britt O'Halloran on jessepollak.me

Retailers are going to have to adapt to a market where there are those things that make sense to the consumer to order online and have delivered, and those that are immediate gratification.

Luc S (pramjockey) on npr.org

I think the concept is inevitable, the problem is how do you get there?

AJ007 on news.ycombinator.com

Real world

Sounds a lot like what Milo was doing. They built exactly what you're referring to. It tells you exactly how much of a particular product was in how many stores near you.

Stewie on jessepollak.me

I still do most of my shopping with brick and mortar stores. I will usually buy online when I simply can't find the item locally.

ray neal (detmem) on npr.org

thefind.com, milo.com, i'm sure there are others that are doing the exact same thing. EXACT. I know, I worked on the code.

lucian303 on jessepollak.me

System integration difficulties will prevent the system from achieving critical mass and broad coverage.

paulsutter on news.ycombinator.com

Should Pollak graduate and take a job with Milo or Nearbuy Systems? Or create his own company?

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