In 1982 the movie Blade Runner was released. The science fiction film takes place in the year 2019, which is not so very far from today. However, if you’ve ever seen the movie, you’ll probably agree that 6 short years will not likely render us a landscape and lifestyle similar to that depicted in the movie. (Aside from the fact that the computers they use are decidedly circa 1982.) Coincidentally, the same year as Blade Runner was released, the New York Times published an article about how our society would be changed by what we know today as the internet, at the time referred to as teletext and videotext. Now we are all use to seeing studies with predictions, speculations, educated and not so educated guesses. There’s always some new study with some new revelation. (Remember a few years back when no one could decide whether eggs were good for you or not?) The amazing thing here is that in 1982, when movies held fantastical visions of a not so distant future and 7 years before the internet was even invented, this study, commissioned by the National Science Foundation, hit our future right on the nose.
While the predictions made in the 1982 study may not seem ground breaking today, back then they probably seemed silly and a maybe even a little far-fetched. Today, a few of these predictions in particular are good reminders of how retail has changed over the past 30 years and how we can adapt to meet the needs of a population growing ever more dependent on the world wide web.
“Individuals will be able to use systems to create their own newspapers, design their own curricula, and compile their own consumer guides.” This blog is a testament that this prediction came true, as are the bi-weekly newsletters that RMS customers receive. Perhaps the most important piece for independent pharmacies could be the prevalence of on-line consumer reviews. What people are saying, or not saying about your business can sway potential customers to visit or not visit your store. Yelp.com is a favorite of mine and a great example of how powerful online word of mouth has become. Go ahead, give it a try. Visit Yelp, type your pharmacy name in to see what comes up. If no one has reviewed your pharmacy yet, think about how you can encourage some positive reviews from your most loyal customers.
“Home-based shopping will permit consumers to order exactly what they need for production on demand.” I distinctly remember raising my eyebrows the first time I saw an advertisement for online ordering and grocery delivery from Safeway. Today, home delivery and online ordering are only growing. Most major grocery stores now have online shopping apps to create easy to use electronic shopping lists. Amazon even as a “Subscribe n’ Save” program where you can schedule regular delivery of those staple items that you buy on a regular basis and always need to have around like laundry detergent, Kleenex, dish soap etc. Many pharmacies offer delivery service to their customers. It’s something that helps to set apart independent pharmacy from the big chains. For most shoppers, convenience and service is key and home delivery is something that encompasses both. If you currently offer home delivery, or are considering implementing a service, RMS can help you to streamline the transaction with live payment processing, signature capture and even receipt printing, all on your customers doorstep with our EvolutionPOS mobile register seen above.
There will be a shift away from conventional workplace and school socialization. Friends, peer groups and alliances will be determined electronically, creating classes of people based on interests and skills rather than age and social class. We now call this social media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and countless numbers of other applications that keep us in touch with each other pervade our daily lives. Not all of your customers will use all of these applications, some of them may use none at all, but social media can be a powerful tool. Even if you only reach a small percentage of your customer base, a post from one customer could be seen by a large number of potential customers in their groups of friends and social circles. Social media has even escalated itself to the enterprise level, where applications such as Microsoft’s Yammer allow collaboration and sharing with the wonderful simplicity of most social applications, but at a business level. RMS customers will soon be able to take advantage of this relatively new aspect of social media through the RMS Customer Forum. You can find out how RMS uses Yammer and even sign up to join the RMS Customer Forum.
There’s still a big line between science fiction and science fact, but the next time you read some “silly prediction” of what the future may hold, stop and think…you might just be seeing a true glimpse of what is yet to come. Our recommendation? Revel in the changes that the internet has brought to our lives, take advantage of them when you can and embrace the online aspect of your business.
Article co-written by Greg Howard, a Senior Support Analyst for Retail Management Solutions.