The first few hours of the 2010 Dairy-Deli-Bake expo in Houston are in the book, and an initial impression is the arrival of the smart phone as officially ubiquitous. Navigating the show floor requires deft feet, as attendees wander around the busy aisles with their heads craned downwards toward hand held devices to check emails, tweets, or who knows what else.
There has been a slow trend in this direction for years, starting with the Blackberry and really gathering steam with the iPhone and recent Droid. People now can be seen exchanging information by touching iPhones together. Others take pictures of products and ideas on the expo floor, to be quickly e-mailed to co-workers back home or sent as a media message. The Show and Sell center, the heart of the IDDBA show floor, is a mass of attendees holding smart phones and hand helds in the air.
I suppose this stands out to me because I've finally joined the ranks of the smart phone owners myself. Or maybe this impressed me because, in order to type this, I had to pass several power outlets, already occupied by people charging their hand held devices. Regardless, people here are on their phones. And they are using them both to record information that's here or access information that's elsewhere.
Exhibitors are competing for attendees' attention, and observers would be wise to note that the ubiquity of hand held devices extends in to their store aisles and in-store bakeries. How accessible are you on consumers smart phones? By now you likely have a website, but is it readable in a small screen format? And as Facebook and Twitter were on people's lips at last year's IDDBA show in Atlanta, this year's buzz is surrounding the "app."
So dawns the age of apps (applications) allowing customers to find you, find each other, and interact in ways that were unimaginable only a decade ago. One app even has the capacity to locate where a customer physically is, and allows retailers to send them coupons or special offers simply by nature of their being in the neighborhood. The sky really seems to be the limit for marketing and merchandising possibilities, if it's done correctly.
A line is currently forming behind me to use my power outlet, so the phones are here–just as they are in your stores and in-store bakeries. The infrastructure is there, the trick is making sure you're using it properly.