Much mobile potential remains untapped

Opportunities exist for front end, pharmacy

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — William Gibson, the science fiction author famous for being a key founder of the cyberpunk literary movement, once wrote, "The future is already here. It just hasn't been evenly distributed yet." That's especially true when considering the relatively slow adoption of mobile technology by retailers despite the buzz surrounding it and its enormous potential.

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Of course, retailers have been pretty good about adopting mobile technology and finding new ways to use it, such as adapting it to loyalty and marketing programs. Safeway uses Just for U to market products and services to 4.1 million shoppers, but still, 1.4 million of them are not active users, chairman and CEO Steve Burd told analysts at the Goldman Sachs 19th Annual Global Retailing Conference earlier this month. Burd called those inactive users a "huge opportunity" and said that growth in mobile technology could double the number of Just for U registrants.

And pharmacy retailers should be paying particular attention. While many chains have apps for things like prescription refills, a number of companies on the supply side have come up with apps as well: Last week, Eli Lilly announced an app for Type 1 diabetes patients using GlucaGen (glucagon [rDNA origin]) that includes information about the drug and abnormally low blood sugar, a simulated practice demonstrating how to prepare and inject the drug and tools to keep track of kit locations and alerts for expiration dates, among others. While the Lilly app is tailored for one particular product, it's a good example of the potential to use apps for everything from patient education to disease state management to medication adherence.

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