Find out what is next for the fast moving world of mobile technology in this Virgin.com guest blog...
The wonders of mobile technology are here to stay, and the days of manual, so-called analog business transactions are inching out the door.
In case you havent noticed yet, the world is moving towards a phase where hands-free and hassle-free purchases and transactions can be done in minutes.
Ever since Walmart came up with the idea of using radio frequency identification (RFID ) chips for its supply chain management, entrepreneurs have been coming up with more and more ways for integrating technology into their business than ever before.
With the pace of technological developments today, it wont be long before we see entire supermarkets and malls equipped with RFID sensors and other cool shiny gadgets that will allow the consumers of the next fifty years (perhaps even less) to shop using their mobile devicesand only their mobile devices.
Dont believe me? Just wait for time to pass and youll soon be nodding agreement. In fact with new technology coming to the forefront like SquareUp, these changes might just be right around the corner.
The mobile revolution started with a rather simple gadgetthe telephonebefore things really began to get rolling. Who would have predicted that apart from enabling communication over long distances, the humble telephone would be converted into a powerful entrepreneurial tool that gives people the opportunity not just to talk, but also to shop?
Communication is Key
Mobile technology is both super-fast and accessible. The ability of mobile devices to allow people to send and receive information whenever and wherever they may be (provided there is network coverage) has taken mobile technology use to a whole new level.
Studies show that mobile use is spreading like wildfire across consumer groups at a rate faster than even PC or internet use was embraced by people. When you have a large pool of individuals using a particular communication technology like mobile devices, you have an avenue that allows you to communicate to and get to know your consumer public more intimately.
We all know that knowledge is power, and nowhere else is this clich most appreciated than in the realm of business. There is nothing more important for an entrepreneur than to stay on top of technology and new business practices, and keep an ear to the ground regarding what their customers want.
Mobile devices allow an entrepreneur to do just that: they are now able to talk to their customers, suppliers and staff in real time to determine exactly how each one is responding to particular situations, and determine exactly what they want and need.
An informed entrepreneur is a success in the making, because he knows how to approach his consumers and how to deliver his offerings in just the right way.
You can take all the customer relationship management courses you want, but unless you find an effective, cheap and accessible avenue for consumers to talk to you and vice versa, all that education is pretty much moot.
Back to the Future
Forget having to manually check the shelves for missing stock, waiting in line to pay for purchases or even grabbing a glossy new magazine from the supermarket counter. Mobile devices are now the in thing to use when youre inside your favorite store.
The mobile world of today is all about letting people do more than just make calls and send messages through their mobile devices. Our phones have gotten smarter, smaller and packed with more exciting capabilities. Entrepreneurs and mobile experts are teaming up together to find ways to make the shopping experience of the 21st century truly amazing.
All this is made possible by the development of brave new mobile applications that have been especially designed to cater to the needs of consumers who are simply enamored with mobile devices.
So the best solution was to come up with software that will give them access to whatever is inside your store without ever setting foot in it. And they dont even have to go online to do thatthey just need to place their orders via SMS or a dedicated number for subscribers and voila! Their shopping is done.
Benefits to Mobile Marketing
Mobile marketing allows you to introduce your new products and services right in front of the faces of your consumers.
They can download product specifications and check reviews while pushing their shopping cart around the store.
They dont even have to ask your staff where a particular item is locatedyou can just send them an interactive map of your store layout so they know where to find what they need.
Finally, they can pay through electronic devices without the hassle of paper receipts and manual punching of prices on a cash register.
To top things off you can even create a customer feedback line that they can access within your premises so you know exactly how they think and feel about certain things like your current store decoration, ambiance and product variety.
From stock replacement to customer payment, mobile marketing is becoming the next big tool in an entrepreneurs arsenal of tricks.
Of course, even with all the potential of mobile marketing, theres also a bit of a downside to going mobile and using all this wonderful technology efficiently.
Currently the major downside entrepreneurs have to brace themselves for before jumping onto the mobile marketing bandwagon is the cost of installing and maintaining all that spectacular technology.
Having RFID readers and whatnot on every shelf and checkout counter in your store will definitely cost you a good deal of money, so you better save up for it.
Apart from the actual gadget purchases youll have to make, you have to do regular maintenance on the software and hardware plus regular training for your staff so they know how to work your new machines.
Then again, if the fast-paced development of mobile marketing and the booming consumer use of mobile devices are any indication, you can rest assured that you will be able to see handsome returns on your investment real soon.
Cori Padgett is a freelance writer and the creative brains and dubious brawn behind her blog Big Girl Branding. You can also follow her on twitter.
Photo by Craig1Black on Flickr
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