The year 1973 was an interesting one on many fronts. Richard Nixon was president of the United States and battling through the Watergate scandal, gas prices soared, the first U.S. space station was launched, and the world population was almost 4 billion. But perhaps two of the most interesting events of the year were the introduction of UPC barcodes, leading to the first scanned product (in a Marsh supermarket), and the debut of the first handheld phone–which sold for $3,995 and weighed two pounds.
Innovation, technology and growth are part of every generation. As we look at 2012, the world population is at 6.8 billion and more than 70 percent of them have mobile phones. People are using their phones not just for talking but for texting, gaming, GPS, picture taking, money transfers, bill paying, e-mailing, and scanning barcodes to gather information. Mobile technology has changed our lives and will change our future.
To stay connected to shoppers in this brave new world of mobile technology, you need a plan for reaching consumers who aren't necessarily watching TV at home, reading a newspaper or magazine, or even sitting in front of their PC. Retail strategies need to integrate a connection via the mobile phone if they are to grow store or brand sales. To do nothing leaves you vulnerable to customers' ever-shifting loyalties.
In addition, a key attribute of all these consumer interactions with mobile devices is behavior that is recorded and reflected in a database. This will lead to very predictive behavior, allowing marketers to target individual messages to the needs and desires of consumers.
To be relevant, you must connect to the consumer's experience. And that's where Retail Leader can help, with thoughtful, provocative articles on the technological changes that are shaping your customers' lives and their shopping experiences. Please enjoy this issue as you kick off a new year of retail success.
Vice President/Group Publisher