THE WIRELESS GENERATION

By 2003, there will be 190 million people accessing the wireless Internet, and revenues for wireless e-commerce are expected to reach $85 billion, according to Carlene Thissen, president, Retail Systems Consulting, Naples, Fla. enabling customers to check stock prices, e-mail and news via an Internet connection while they pump gas. "How many supermarkets have formats where they own gas pumps?" asked

By 2003, there will be 190 million people accessing the wireless Internet, and revenues for wireless e-commerce are expected to reach $85 billion, according to Carlene Thissen, president, Retail Systems Consulting, Naples, Fla.

enabling customers to check stock prices, e-mail and news via an Internet connection while they pump gas. "How many supermarkets have formats where they own gas pumps?" asked Jeff Smith, managing partner of e-commerce, global consumer and pharmaceutical industries practice, Accenture, formerly Anderson Consulting, Chicago. "It is not a tough networking issue to connect your pumps to the Internet, add value and expand from there. "Customers use credit cards at the pumps. You know who your customer is as soon as they swipe that card. Think of the new dimensions of more targeted messages across the pumps," Smith said. "You need to get practical within your industry about the user of the technology, not just the technology itself."

Wireless electronic key chains, similar to those used by customers to pay for gas at self-service stations, can be a natural extension in supermarkets. "After picking out items at the store, customers can load their groceries, flash the key chain and leave. What's missing? No checkout," Smith said. "The credit and loyalty cards are already tied to the wireless fob. The bottleneck at the front end is eliminated, and customers are entitled to loyalty discounts and have a quicker shopping experience."