Tagging and tracking services for consumers make it easy (and compelling!) for Good Samaritans, lost & found personnel and police departments to return lost or stolen items to their rightful owners.
The more ‘stuff’ consumers own, the more they’re prone to lose. Lose as in dislocate that is. Think mobile phones, keys, cameras, PDAs, laptops, binoculars, backpacks, passports, briefcases, wallets and purses, golf clubs, power tools, textbooks… you get the picture. But every consumer’s loss can be an entrepreneur’s gain, as proven by an interesting emerging business sector: tech-savvy lost and found services. These services let consumers label their valuables with clearly marked tags informing the finder how to return the item to the owner, and how to get rewarded for his or her help. By phone, via email or any other means available. A good example is US-based StuffBak, who has been in this space for a few years now: finders of StuffBak-labeled items can call a toll-free number or consult the StuffBak website. Finders can then drop off the item at the nearest UPS Store (formerly Mail Boxes, Etc.) or arrange for Airborne Express to pick it up directly. Owners of lost items are immediately notified when their item has been reported found. StuffBak offers all finders a basic reward of a USD 20 gift of STUFFBAK ID labels. Customers may also choose to offer a cash reward, this could be a Blanket Cash Reward, which gets paid when ANY of their labeled items are returned or a Per Item Custom Reward, which entails a specific cash reward for any individual item after customers have reported that item lost. StuffBak customers are only charged: • When they purchase labels. Label packs range from US$9.95 to US$39.95 • If lost property is returned. Customers pay a USD 14.95 transaction fee plus shipping charges • If they request payment of an extra cash reward to the finder Stuffbak claims that to date, 90% of items reported lost have been returned to owners. Stuffbak is not the only company operating in this fast growing field: for more info and inspiration, check out Canadian TrackitBack and Australian Postbak.