Please visit to see the new & improved site.
Please visit to see the new & improved site.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Paradigms for Sustainable Consumer Products

I have written before on the need for companies to develop new paradigms for doing business. I came close to one yesterday in my life as a consumer.

I have an up-market compact digital camera from Canon that died. I called Canon and as an alternative to an expensive repair they offered me an upgrade to a newer model at a good discount off the retail price. Part of the deal for the upgrade discount is that I return the broken camera to them for recycling the parts. I get to keep all my old accessories (including the battery and memory card) all of which work on the newer model.

Having been a product manager, I know that this isn't a trivial process for a company to implement. It requires an application to be developed and integrated with the company's other systems to track all the returned devices, service managers on the help desk need to be trained to explain the process to customers and changes have to be made to the logistics operation to receive the returned device and process it accordingly.

Nevertheless, this still isn’t quite where it needs to be. Ideally, I would be able to get my existing camera body repaired and upgraded to the latest features cost effectively. But with the balance between cost of labor and cost of materials that is unlikely. And of course I want my repair turned around quickly so it has to be done in the US and by hand whereas a completely new camera can be built with a high level of automation and in another country where labor rates are lower. So the economics just don’t favor repairs and ‘soft’ upgrades right now.

But I think I got the next best thing. I was impressed that my specific camera, with its serial number registered, was brought back into Canon’s supply chain in an auditable way and that I was incentivized to do that with a discount on the new model.

No comments:

Post a Comment