Shops are finding the old-fashioned cash register expendable as the bulk of purchases are made with credit and debit cards, making having cash-on-hand obsolete.
Instead stores are beginning to have their salespeople armed with smartphones or tablet computers to register sales, and in some cases even the customers themselves will be able to load their purchase into their own mobile device.
The luxury retailer Barneys New York is planning on making the changeover this coming year, using iPads or iPod Touch devices to record purchases in seven of their almost two dozen non-outlet stores. Urban Outfitters, a clothing store chain for teen buyers, ordered its last cash register last fall. They plan to go completely mobile one day soon. Wal-Mart, which is the largest retail chain in the world, is now testing a “Scan & Go” application that allows customers to scan their purchases as they shop.
“The traditional cash register is heading toward obsolescence,” said Danielle Vitale, chief operating officer of Barneys New York.
Apple doesn’t really even need to advertise itself. The company’s products seem to pretty much know how to sell themselves. As noted by Peter Oppenheimer, the company’s CFO, “Apple sold every iPad 2 that we could make.” Hardly a company that needs any marketing assistance. But nonetheless, the powers-that-be have clearly made the decision to do otherwise and clearly dedicate a fair portion of its budget on marketing as do most large corporations. It’s only a shame if they invest this money and then not actually achieve the image they are going for. And that seemed to happen with the latest commercial for the iPad 2.
Apple Shouldn’t Have Broken With Commercial Tradition
What’s somewhat strange in this commercial is how Apple seems to have ditched its standard tradition of how it usually markets itself. Ordinarily, the company’s ads are based on how little they blow their own trumpets, but this one seems to do the complete opposite. The TV commercial that aired last week, had the iPad 2 as “an all-purpose tool useful to children and CEOs alike.”
Different to the product’s first commercial, it uses the theme, “if you asked,” as a way to argue its usefulness. The first one pushes the idea that technology alone is not enough.” Anyway if you want to check it out for yourselves, go to this link.
Well it’s true that if someone copies what you’re doing they clearly think it’s cool. That’s all very well and good but the problem is, when people are creating new technical gadgets, they don’t want their ideas being ripped off. And it seems that that is exactly what is happening. In addition, it just doesn’t look good and most people usually want the original anyway even if the copy is cheaper. For example, when it comes to Apple products, very few people want what is bound to be a second rate imitation of the original; they want the real deal.
So what do you need to avoid when trying to get the best technology? What should you be looking out for? And, perhaps more importantly, is there ever a case when a rip-off is actually a good deal? There were some dirty tricks played by some mobile phone companies following the debut of the flip phone in 2004 by Motorola RAZR which wasn’t really very fair as those particular companies had status within the mobile phone industry that earned them brownie points amongst potential customers.
It’s not news that Apple has had a lot of copies on the market, perhaps the most recent one being the ViewSonic Android Tablet, off of its iPad. But the question that needs to be asked is, is Apple always Little Miss Innocent vis-à-vis original designs? Perhaps not. P88 manufacturer Shenzen Great Loong Brother Company is complaining that iPad is a spin-off of that. If you look at the P88 though it actually appears more like a big iPhone than an iPad. Manufactured in China, the company’s president Xiaolong Wu said quite blatantly, that if the iPad is marketed there, “we won’t have any choice but to report them [since] it will certainly affect our sales.”
The bottom line is it’s often a bit of a chicken and egg situation in the sense that it’s not so easy to tell which came first. People interested in technology and gadgets are often looking for two things: a great gadget and pretty top notch marketing and brand name to sell the product. Copy cat or dirty tricks aren’t so important to the average Joe in the street looking for a new game or higher performing gadget.
We all heard about the craziness for the iPad 2 and how sales went completely out of control. Apparently not so for the Verizon iPhone 4. They did okay but it wasn’t “revolutionary.” It was seen primarily as “just another iPhone 4” with Apple not participating so much in promotional sales, leaving it mostly to Verizon. At the end of the day the marketing message was clear: “Verizon can’t market its way out of a paper bag.”
Verizon Not Hot on Marketing
It’s not really a surprise when you look at the company’s marketing history. Even when it came to the Droid, it didn’t do that well and it had quite substantial opportunity since there were plenty of customers who would have settled for it over the iPhone 4. Verizon should have jumped on the bandwagon and used iPhone for its marketing technique by selling it as an iPhone but ultimately it did quite the opposite and promoted the Droid as “the anti-iPhone.” Well, that wasn’t going to satisfy anyone.
Learn Lessons Like a Politician
At the end of the day, to really be a success in marketing what you need to do is believe in your product. Just like the British Labour Party in the 1980s kept trying to be a watered-down version of Thatcherism and that didn’t work, Verizon should have honed in on its own market and those who wanted its product. Around 99 percent of Verizon’s customers are non-geek and so only required something that was like an iPhone (for a better price). Indeed before the era of Verizon iPhone, AT&T’s iPhone was beating Verizon Droid sales by a staggering 2.5 to 1 which led to a total flop of Verizon’s Droid marketing.
At the end of the day, any marketing buff will tell you just how important it is to hone in on your own specific market if you really want to succeed in pushing your product. Marketing Lesson 101 learnt: believe in yourself.
During the craziness of the catastrophe to hit Japan last week, how were people trapped about to stay in touch? What was the best piece of technology that linked people to loved ones? A 25-year-old woman from Tokyo who was traveling by train to the airport, spoke about how she managed to tell people she was okay, despite the fact that there was no cellphone network available for voice calls.
3G Saves the Day While Blackberry Is Fruitless
It was the 3G Data Network and a bunch of iPhone apps that came to the rescue. The Blackberry on the other hand, was incapable of sending and receiving messages at all. The iPhone worked, so long as you could keep charging it; it provided consistently good reception. As well, Viber was the only method out of all the networks for getting calls through (Skype was unavailable for many hours).
iPad 2 Figures: Not Surprising
Perhaps given all this it’s not all that surprising that when the iPad 2 was unveiled just over 2 weeks ago, it immediately sold out “within hours” of its launch. It is thinner and more powerful than the first model; has a camera in the front and back to enable video conferencing with photos and videos and is the same price as the first one. Even though this is really just a slight upgrade from the first, customers kept on coming, with one lady selling her spot in the line for $900 to a businessman who just didn’t have time to wait in line from 5 am and had to have the new iPad before his business trip!
Jobs Always on the Job
If Apple creator Steve Jobs just keeps getting it right and his communication tools are even helping in situations such as Japan’s catastrophe, then it makes sense that his products will keep gaining in popularity. Just make sure you reserve your spot in line early for any new Apple launches in the future; you never know, it could be more than just a great gadget; it may be your rescue tool out of a crisis.