As promised, we are going to provide backgrounder and competitive intelligence for the sistas to look into next generation cube shop models as a global entrepreneurial opportunity. The goal is to help sistas learn to look worldwide for patterns and trends and recognize and take advantages of business opportunities worldwide. We are going to focus on the micro-mall cube shop business model that is in Asia and discuss how this business model can be take advantage of by the sistas by applying STEM and technology skills not currently present in the business model. In this article, we are going to briefly discuss the cube shop model, the challenges, the opportunity and provide a case study and extract knowledge the sistas can leverage to her advantage in the marketplace. Then we going to discuss how the sistas can move forward and get started if she is interested. Please note and we have given prior warning – this business model is being shared exclusively with the sistas but will be swagger-jacked worldwide as Dream and Hustle is read all over the world and the 3rd Strategic Institute are the bigger influencers in the game. I’m trying to be 100% with you sistas and will be frank - all these fake Black technology characters around me – they ain’t the business – I’m the real deal and I can show and tell. Trust me when I tell you that if you sistas do not jump on this next generation cube shop model in the next few weeks, someone else will and you sistas will miss out and lose a massive global entrepreneurial opportunity with a higher barrier of entry cost as a penalty for sleeping on this article. Please start running and get into action immediately after reading this article. Background on the Cube Shop Model In high density urban areas throughout Asia, many of the commercial space has high rent per square foot making it difficult to establish micro-entrepreneurship. One solution proposed is the mini-mall or micro-mall that take a small commercial space and lease out portions of the space to sell to smaller merchants to sell their products on a consignment basis. The cube shop or checkbox shop uses a grid-based shelving system and lease each “cube” out to a micro-merchant to showcase their products. Consignment cube shop flourished in Hong Kong last decade and this decade saw massive inroads into mainland China urban markets. Cube shops were originally done in Japan and the business model still exist in Japan but not as big as Hong Kong and China. The business model has also moved to Taiwan and Singapore and as more Asian high-density emerging markets continue to grow, the cube shop model will likely appear to support micro-entrepreneurs selling products. Please note that consignment cube shops are not to be confused with “cube shops” that sell Rubik cube-like puzzle toys. These Rubik cube style shops are a whole genre in itself and share the name “cube shop” and these type of puzzle toy stores are also big in Asia and is also a growing worldwide trend. The Current Business Model of a Cube Shop A cube shop works basically as a consignment shop that assign a micro-merchant a cube to display and sell their products. The consignment agreement is a form of a lease where a micro-merchant agree to put down a security deposit and pay a monthly fee for the rental of the cube space. The consignment shop who will likely handle the transaction and fulfillment of a micro-merchant product stored in the cube will also charge a commission on top of the sale to cover handling cost. A micro-merchant who wish to sell their products would choose a cube shop because it is located in a high traffic location with a lot of shopping activity. When a micro-merchant sign a consignment lease, they are allowed to showcase their products in the cube and usually provide inventory either inside the cube or in the inventory of the consignment shop to fulfill to a paying customer. From the various leases and agreements we have seen, micro-merchants are required to label and assign a unique number (001, 002, etc.) to each product they providing for inventory to keep track of sales and count. For the cube shop business model to be sustainable it is in the best interest of consignment cube shop to have as many paying micro-tenants to cover the cost of operation and generate a profit margin. For the micro-merchant, it is their best interest to generate sales and revenue with as less overhead charges to generate the maximum revenue. Current Challenges to the Cube Shop Model Many analysts over in Asia indicated the consignment cube shop model cannot sustain itself due to zero-sum game theory competition. Because of the low barrier of entry to lease a large space and establish cubes, new entrants will try to offer deals to poach paying micro-merchants from one cube shop to another. Poaching established micro-merchants is usually done with offers of free rent or no commission for the first few months and create an environment where micro-merchants hop around, causing instability among established consignment cube shops. The high cost of rent and rent inflation is another known challenge to the cube shop business model where the consignment cube shop rent can increase dramatically in a year while the current leases of micro-merchants cannot offset the rent increase amount, due to the lease agreements. There have been stories of consignment shops closing up shop as a result leaving micro-merchants high and dry as a result when the consignment shop lease expires. A bigger challenge is the cluttered cube spaces that can turn off browsing customers. If a customer stop by a consignment shop display and see several cubes that are cluttered with hats and trinkets off Alibaba.com, then the customer can dismiss the whole experience and keep walking. Many cubes are poorly managed and designed filled with trinkets and basically cheap junk. It only take a few junk cubes to turn off a customer and lose business opportunity for the other cubes in the shop. Inventory is a risk due to unpredictability. If a consignment shop is holding 100 widgets that is not selling, the cube micro-merchant is losing money and may be paying a penalty of maintaining goods that is not selling. This can leads to abandonment in some cases where the micro-merchant will break the lease and leave the consignment shop owner out cold holding the bag for the micro-merchant inventory that cannot sell. Solutions and Opportunities for the Sistas We believe the sistas can provide transformative innovation to the consignment cube shop model through Asia by employing STEM-based solutions. The sistas can take advantage of Asia having the biggest smartphone market in the world and savvy customer base to employ next generation clicks-and-bricks m-commerce patterns and practices to enhance the consignment cube shop model. Here are the following solutions and opportunities the sistas can take to the cube shop model: Leverage M-Commerce. Create an engaging experience for customers to browse/shop with their mobile device at a cube shop. Provide QR codes to direct customers to a mobile-enhanced web site to provide “endless aisle” to find more items for sale not in the display. Give the customer the ability to order online, pickup in store using their mobile phone. Create “touch maps” that are HTML5 canvas overlay with x-y coordinates of the cube layout to allow a customer to touch an item on their smartphone to receive augmented information on the product currently on display. Develop Market for Premium Luxury Micro-Cubes. To establish market differential among consignment cube shops, sistas can create premium luxury cubes that have advanced features and capabilities. Cubes can be transformed to museum-like exhibit dioramas with interactive elements. Or a micro-cube can be a scaled down version of a luxury store design using architectural scale modeling techniques. Creating advanced cubes with enhanced capabilities can attract larger firms to become micro-cube tenants in addition to micro-merchants. Establish Cloud-Based Platform to Manage Consignment Cubes as a Service Model. Sistas can use Microsoft Azure to create an end-to-end platform that allow a consignment cube shop outsource the provisioning, billing and management of a cube shop operation. Micro-merchants can visit a web site and automatically enter their inventory and requirements and shop around online for the best consignment cube store to place their products. Consignment cube shops can just fulfill transactions for customers who can buy online and pickup in store with no additional hardware requirements. Sistas can establish a cloud-based business to manage consignment cube shops beginning in Hong Kong and move to new markets in mainland China, S. Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. Create a Broker System for Empty Cube Spaces. In the same fashion a hotel room broker would buy up unused hotel rooms to offer as a discount, a sista can work with several consignment cube stores to broker unleased cube spaces at a discount. This create opportunity for sistas to offer spaces on short notice and at a discount for pop-up cube space campaigns and fill up spaces with micro-merchants looking to quickly expand to more than one location and test-market consignment cube shops before making a commitment. Case Study: Scale Auto Broker In this prototype example, I created a micro-merchant persona that will be selling premium scaled model of luxury and exotic automobiles from a consignment cube shop. These are 1:18 scaled models of Lamborghini, Mercedes, Bugatti and these models are handmade in Japan and very detailed and popular worldwide. Because of the size of these 1:18 cars and the wholesale cost, there is not enough space to put the scaled cars in a cube display and unfeasible to place these items in the hands of a consignment shop owner. The solution is to create a premium concept cube model that can showcase a feature car in a virtual premium cube “showroom” that feature earth tone colors, QR code with link to the web site to order cars and if you look to the right – yes, that is a real 2-inch flat panel video display that can play videos of exotic cars on repeat. The ceiling is a display of LED lights and the question a person will ask is how the LED lights and the video display powered? The power for the lights and video is from a solar panel/battery setup on the top of this premium cube drawing power from the cube installed light. This is a 3rd Strategic Institute concept model we have been working on to test the next generation cube models for our beautiful sistas for several weeks and we learned a lot. The first thing we learned is as you see in the picture, we are using a 12x12x12 box which is cube shop specs but the diorama is too tall. We realize we need to reduce the height and create a widescreen effect to bring the whole diorama in a tighter view to the customer who is browsing. We did not have a name for this concept store yet but we will have it on the orange centerpiece section using letter stickers that will stand out boldly for the customer to recognize. If you look at the lights, you see the white partial roof blend into the black for the starry sky effect. We have lifted all of these design cues from real retailers around the world to incorporate into our premium cube diorama. One of the most impressive things is the diorama is attractive enough to take a photo and it looks real. We believe this format will increase customer engagement and have a bigger follow-through to a sale than the current setup of cube shop displays. How a Sista can Merge E-Commerce with See-Commerce The sistas have now been briefed by the 3rd Strategic Institute on the consignment cube shop model in Asia, the challenges and opportunities sistas can take advantage of. This information has been made exclusively available to the sistas to take advantage and it is our goal that the sistas will move on this data and create global entrepreneurship opportunities so she can do things on the global level. By creating interactive cube shops, a sista is establishing a new paradigm of merging e-commerce with see-commerce where people can actually see the products in the real world versus on a flat screen prior to ordering online. This is a major game changer opportunity for a sista and she can get global recognition as well as something nice to put on her resume if she pursue the opportunities laid out in this article. To help our sistas with the global opportunity, we will be providing more articles and information for the sistas on the micro-cube model. Here in the Atlanta, I’m building out the world’s smallest hair extension shop using the concepts outlined here and using renewable energy to power the micro-store. There will also be a Facebook group established for the sistas to learn more tips about coding, creating micro-malls and discuss business models and opportunities and announced real soon. We are hoping the sistas recognize the opportunity we presented here, start making moves because the 3rd Strategic Institute is engaged in Asia right now and we are trying to get the sistas to get a first mover advantage. We believe this is a very big opportunity ripe with innovation from the sistas and hope she take advantage of the opportunity.