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Olivia Pena, Goldilocks Shopper, 5/6/2012

You wake up and have pain so terrible that you can't stand to have any light hit your eyes, you can't bear to hear any sound. Your pain is so bad that you can hardly even stand up straight, let alone think. This is a migraine. I began this class wanting to use my creativity to find a new and un-thought of way in which to give these people relief. My initial plan was to use some type of LSD analogue as a migraine treatment.

While there is no shortage of information or funding in this area, I do not have nearly enough knowledge about the topic to fully understand it. And while I don't need to know everything about it, I do need to understand more than I currently do. This is not too say that I couldn't do anything in this area but that this problem already has research and money going to find a solution for it. Because of this, I found another problem which might need to be addressed.

Here is the problem, most people I know, including myself hate to go to the store to look for something to wear. It is difficult to find something that you like. Once you do find something that you happen to like you have to figure out which size fit's you. Now, not all sizes are made the same so you can't find your size and simply go pick it up. The size that fit's you in one style may be way to big in another style or even too small in yet another style. Say it fit's you but only one aspect doesn't. Maybe the pants fit in the waist but are too short on your legs. Or maybe they are long enough for your legs but are too big in your waist. This is frustrating. As a result of this, most of these people either limit their shopping to once a year or even just continue to wear the same clothes for year after year when it is long past warn out. The other people with this problem end up purchasing their items online.

Now why would any store or business care about this problem their customers are having you may ask. I mean, if they spend more time in the store they just see more stuff and the more time they spend the more they're going to buy right? No, most of these people just get frustrated and leave with nothing. I do this, my mother, father, boyfriend, and several friends do this. Now you may argue that they are still purchasing items online. But the stores are still losing money. This can lead to bankruptcy as well as chains going out of business. This in turn results in loss of job opportunities for people who may desperately need them too support themselves and their families.

I have not been able to find exact numbers but most stores likely lose somewhere in the thousands and possibly even hundreds of thousands of dollars on things such as shipping costs for returned items. They also lose money when they have to clearance items which have not been purchased and are no longer sellable. To deal with this, the stores reduce the cost of the item in an effort to simply get it out of their store. All of this leads to a loss of money as well as a waste of materials for shipping and a waste of gas for unwanted things. People also waste gas going between stores to look for what they can't find because it's not in stock or doesn't fit.

My solution is to this problem to find some type of system which finds things and inventories them by the measurements instead of sizes. This would work sort of like a personal tailor who measures you and tells you exactly what size and what style will fit you and look good as well. Originally, the idea was to have a kiosk in which you could put your measurements that would pick out your clothes sizes for you so that you wouldn't have to waste time trying things on that were never going to fit you in the first place. It would, in a way, narrow your search.

This is where I ran into a road block, upon going into a Kohl's store, I found a kiosk which would let you see if an item was in the store in a specific size and if it wasn't, it would let you order the item online and simply have It shipped to your house. This would make my invention just an upgrade to what is already there and I wanted something different and new. So back to the drawing board.

This already existing in store system meant that at least one store was keeping a type of active database. So a new idea. What if I made a smart phone application which everyone could access that would link up to already existing databases and allowed people to find what they were looking for at the same time? I collaborated with store managers of both target and kohl's department stores in order to find out what type of databases they may have as well as if they were willing to work with me on a project or device like this.

While talking to the manager of target, I was not allowed any information about what type if any inventory database they may or may not have. The reason for this was stated to be that it would not help the store with their customer response and would decrease their competitiveness in the area of clothing etc. The reason for this was that if people could simply look at what was in that store and happen not to like it, they could simply compare it too easily with other businesses and would end up losing possible sales. If people don't know what the store has in stock then they have to physically enter the store and look through things, leading them to purchase items they might not otherwise have even thought of. As for broadening their customer base by bringing in online customers, they did not seem to convinced that it would add all that much more to it. When approached about the green aspect of the smart phone application, they did not seem worried about it.

From the Kohl's manager I received a completely different response. Kohl's has an inventory database which is kept electronically but is not connected to their kiosks. The store kiosks seem to simply be a way in which to order things online if you cannot find them in the store. Another interesting aspect about the store is that they have electronic price tags for every place in which an item belongs in the store. These are linked to a store server which can change the name of what the object is and the price if it happens to change. This department store seems to be already on the verge of what my smartphone application will do. Because all of these things are already in place in some kohl's stores, it makes it easy simply to make my application able to link up to these already in place systems. Unfortunately, in the middle of my collaboration with this manager, he left his position within the store and so I have lost this valuable contact.

Regardless of these unfortunate events, I continued with the project. My motivation being that it will help with the green initiative. It reduces emissions by stopping customers from driving between stores looking for things which the stores may show online which are not actually in the stores inventory. It will also reduce the use of shipping materials by eliminating the need to ship single items as well as items in sizes which will not end up being purchased. Another thing that motivated me to continue was to see what I could do, as well as the fact that I will no longer need to go shopping and spend all those hours looking for things I can't find.

My smartphone application will have a homepage which is simple and will allow you to continue. After clicking this button, you will be linked to a second page which will ask you to confirm your location. The way in which this will work is that the application will be capable of picking up store inventory databases in your general area. Each database will be readily identifiable with the store which it comes from sort of like the way in which a Wi-Fi capable computer can pick up and identify available wireless networks in the area. This application will then automatically show these database connections as store logos which can function as hyperlinks to connect you to the store database which you may be in.

Now that you have access to the items available in the store which you are in, that link will also take you to a second page which will ask you what it is you are shopping for in the store. This will work as a sort of search engine to narrow your search through the database like a website search engine might work. One this page will be choices such as men's shirts, men's pants, men's shorts, women's skirts, women's dresses, women's jeans, etc. As might be expected, this will allow the application to generally narrow down the search criteria.

After this search has been narrowed, the application will automatically open a new window in which will be prearranged search criteria boxes which need to be filled in to specify the inventory database search. These criteria boxes will require the shopper to fill in, in inches, for measurements which a tailor might use if making a personal outfit. An example would be that a women's shirt would ask for measurements such as shoulder width, bust, arm inseam, arm outer seam, torso length, and waist. One question which might come up is how this would work with the store's inventory database. Here is where I need a store to really be online with this idea. I would need the store to keep an inventory which not only keeps styles and brands, but the inventory database will also need to have a way in which things are entered by sizes in inches. This may be asking a lot and maybe there is some better way in which to do this, but so far, this is the best I could come up with. In essence, this system will combine current online search engines with a new type of search engine and put it within the store.

After specific search criteria has been entered, it will narrow the search which was run earlier for clothing type to display only those types of clothing which fit both search criteria given. This will open a new page which will display pictures of relevant items in a top to bottom fashion so that you may finger scroll through the items without having to flip through multiple pages. Next to pictures of the items fitting the search criteria will be a listing of the size of each type of clothing which specifically fits the criteria. This will eliminate a customer wondering which size to get. The application will effectively tell the shopper which items will look good, fit, and exactly what size to pick up.

Clicking on the picture of the item which you wish to purchase will send you to a map of the section of the store in which the item can be found. Above this map will be listed the assigned number of the rack or shelf where the item can be found. This will mean that the store would need to number their sale racks. However, this will not be a large expense because it could be a piece of laminated paper which could simply be placed on top of the rack. Another problem with this model will be that when people look through items, they do not always place them back in the correct place. This would lead to a customer being unable to find what they are looking for.

A solution to this could be the creation jobs. When people look at something in a store, they will not place the item back but in a box. Store employees will be hired for the position of putting these things back in their place, the way a person mans a fitting room. For this to be able to work, the application will have to produce a lot of extra income for the company. This area of my idea needs to be looked into further.

In order to get this application started, provided that a company agrees to utilize this application, I would offer it for free for a time period of about one week. After this time, the cost of the application would be $.99. It's possible to have the stores advertise. Because this application brings income to the business they will likely be willing to advertise.

Eventually this application would be linked to a web site so that people can find what they want and compare inventories of multiple stores before leaving their homes. Also for the future, this device can be used for farmers markets. This would allow people to see which goods a farmer's market has. This will allow customers to shop locally, helping local economy, as well as reducing the use of patented grains, etc. This will allow people to find the food their looking for and know where to go in order to get it. Not only do I want to expand the useability of my smart phone application in this area, but also in other areas such as home goods and furniture. This all, however; is for future use. The thing which needs to happen first is to get this application off the ground.

One of the first things I will need to do is to contact someone who can help me to create a "working" application. This will need to be capable of linking to store databases which exist or a new type of database which I will need to create. To create this database, I will need to talk to some party which understands these inventories better than I do. This database would need to inventory items in the way which I described earlier on. This will also need to be able to link up to my smart phone application. One other thing that this database program will need to be able to do is to keep track of which sizes and in which styles are most searched in order to help the company spend less by stocking what is most likely to be purchased.

Looking into this more closely it seems that it may be not just one project but a two part project. One is the link capable search engine or smart phone application. The second is an entirely new database which needs to completely change the way in which companies inventory their items. This seems to be a much larger project than I anticipated with much more thought and research which still needs to be done.