Industry spotlight telecommunications News Briefs Business Cards? A new technology that was patented by Dallas-based AT&T could make business cards obsolete. AT&T has developed a way to let cell phone or other wireless devices automatically record encounters with other nearby people who are carrying wireless devices, so as to create a “personal encounter history” users can retrieve later. It’s a Wrap ... And if it’s a box, bucket, shelf, basket, rack or any other “why didn’t I think of that” idea, it’s at the Container Store, a major retailer headquartered in North Texas. Recently, the Container Store teamed with Usablenet to create a new mobile phone experience with more features from the desktop site available on mobile. This allows the company to quickly refresh site banners, mobile promotions and links with meaningful information for the customer – in other words, putting the organizational prowess for which the Container Store is known directly into the hands of its customers via a mobile store organized as well as the company’s bricks-andmortar locations and opening up yet another avenue for customer interaction in the mobile age. 64 Business and Mobile Apps North Texas has long been a pioneer in small, mobile technology. A spirit of can-do independence is leading to new frontiers for customer interaction and sales among North Texas companies of all kinds. From convenience and retail stores to charitable initiatives, North Texans are seeing that big Texas sky as the limit for where their business can grow. H aven’t you ever wanted to tell a big company what to do, how to do it and when and where you want it done? Dallas-based 7-Eleven, the largest national chain in the convenience retailing industry, is listening, giving customers the chance of a lifetime – and 7-Eleven the opportunity to interact in a meaningful way with its increasingly mobile base. With the recent launch of its first smartphone application, 7-Eleven is making convenience, well, more convenient. Available for Apple and Android operating systems, smartphone users can download the free app at the iPhone App Store and Google Play for Android. The app not only features a store locator, but also has mobile coupons and offers, as well as news on store events and specials. “Our mobile strategy is focused on making it easy and fun for guests to find and transact with our stores,” said Mike Debnar, senior director of digital guest experience in 7-Eleven’s Innovation Group. “Our philosophy is guest-driven product development. It’s all about building convenience on convenience.” The recent update also added the ability to check in to stores with the popular Foursquare social media app. Frequent 7-Eleven visitors could even earn a Foursquare “mayorship” of their favorite store by using the 7-Eleven app to check in most often. The company is using the app for customer feedback in a new way. 7-Eleven really wants to know what customers think. Really. The company seeks feedback as it expands the app’s capabilities, adding features based on customers’ suggestions. 7-Eleven added an “Idea Hub” to the app’s Control Panel. Divided into four categories for suggestions – General, Stores, Events and Coupons – users can submit an idea or vote on another, with the ability to sort by popularity or most recent suggestions. “We received lots of great ideas and reinforcement of plans that were already in the works,” Debnar noted. “For example, we were surprised at how many people using the 7-Eleven app wanted more convenient, mobile payments. It also surprised us that there were a lot of votes for providing Wi-Fi in our stores, and we plan to test this.” Top vote-getters have included coupons, store reviews, loyalty program, nutritional information, mobile phone payment capabilities and local gas prices. Due to suggestions from customers, coupons can now be redeemed at the register by scanning an onscreen UPC code from a smart phone or shared on Facebook and Twitter. Users can also request to receive text offers and email updates from 7-Eleven, all products customized geographically, and by time of day and local weather. Making plans for a special night at home? With the app, users find the closest 7-Eleven that has an ATM, get a bottle of wine and maybe some pizza and a lottery ticket, and rent a movie at the Redbox inside the store. Head home after you fill up the car. Go home. Relax. It’s up to you as to what’s next. As 7-Eleven says: You’re the boss.