It’s lunchtime and you’re driving by your favorite Mexican restaurant when your smartphone starts to fill up with texts and tweets about tacos. Coincidence?
Not if restaurants and retailers embrace new mobile communications technology the way many experts say they should and inevitably will.
“I have been doing mobile for more than 15 years and was hoping it would become the must-have it has with people walking around with devices and [where] privacy is not a concern,” said Joel Evans, Providence-based vice president of application development for technology company Mobiquity Inc. “People now are willing to give up their location for more personalized service.”
For brick-and-mortar businesses that have seen some of their sales migrate to the Internet over the last 20 years, figuring out how the proliferation in mobile devices and social media usage will reshape the landscape has become a major challenge.
That’s why the Rhode Island and Connecticut chapters of the International Council of Shopping Centers are gathering this month in Providence to discuss how businesses can become winners in the mobile and social media revolution.
“Part of this is finding out what it means for us,” said David Steinberg, manager of leasing at Ocean State Job Lot and co-chair of the ICSC Rhode Island chapter’s Next Generation Planning Committee. “We all have these printed fliers. Now there are people walking around with site plans on iPads. Traditionally, it has been, ‘Let me see your Facebook page.’ That’s great, but there is also an undercurrent of how you will use it in day-to-day business.”
In addition to Evans, speakers at the Nov. 17 event, called “There’s an App for that,” will include Lloyd Sugarman, senior vice president of Johnny Rockets restaurants, Paul Conforti, managing partner of Encore Hospitality, and Robert Mesite, owner of a Sonic restaurant in Wallingford, Conn.
While new social media and mobile tools are primarily associated with retailers themselves, Steinberg said the changes being brought about by technology are significant enough to make the subject relevant to almost anyone.
Nowhere does change appear to be coming more rapidly than the mobile-technology world, where smartphones have gone from exclusive gadgets to everyday accessories in the space of a few years.