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Ever Changing Tech

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Tis the season when a person’s fancy turns to holiday cheer and thoughts of really cool Christmas gifts you crave this year.

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[Editor’s Note: You are likely reading this post-Christmas 2014 – perhaps a few days into 2015 – but it was Cyber Monday when I wrote this column. When you work on a monthly magazine, you get to mess with the space-time continuum.]

And one of the keen gifts many Americans crave is a new iPhone 6 or its overweight brother the iPhone 6 Humongous, I mean Plus.

Shiny new technology like the latest iPhone always come with a slate of under-the-hood tech advances that often go unnoticed, certainly under-appreciated.

Some of these innovations stream-line existing functions, making use of the product more seamless and intuitive. Some are oversold (like Apple’s Maps app that flopped). And some are true breakthroughs that will have a direct impact on how you will be doing business in the near future.

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Like Apple Pay.

Apple Pay is not the first cellphone-as-credit-card system, but it is the best mobile wallet on the market, the most widely accepted, the most secure and one your customer base may soon be clamoring for. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Capital One, and a number of other credit card companies have already thrown in on Apple Pay.

Walmart, Best Buy, Target and a couple of other retailers are backing another system called Current C, and while we can get into a long VHS vs. Beta argument, the take-away here is that your future tire and service customers are going to demand this advanced type of payment method.

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Are you at all ready?

“Mobile wallet use will help mobile point-of-sale buys rise 100-fold by 2018, to nearly $190 billion. In 2013, in-store mobile sales amounted to just $1.8 billion,” offers the Kiplinger Report. “By 2018, two-thirds of smartphones will have near field communication (NFC) chips, up from 18% now.”

Now operational, the Apple Pay system allows users to load their credit cards onto their smartphones (Apple Pay is only available on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models), and simply wave their device over a NFC terminal at the checkout counter. As of today, more than 220,000 retailers accept the Apple Pay technology.

Current C, not available until later in 2015, is based in a smartphone app that connects to the user’s debit card. When that user makes a purchase, the retailer has to scan a QR code on the smartphone to initiate the payment transfer.

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It’s fascinating that in the last decade we have evolved from flip phones, texting and emailing to a digital Swiss army knife that informs, entertains, guides and now facilitates commerce. After smartphones and soon smartwatches, what will be next?

* * * * * * *

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Harold Coker. The founder of the now globally known and respected Coker Tire Co. died on Nov. 16, literally days after he was inducted into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame. He was 84.

Harold was a true gentleman, and one of the greatest advocates for this industry and its independent distribution.

Harold’s list of achievements is a long one, staring with his stint with the B.F. Goodrich Tire Co. through the founding of Coker Tire in 1958 and the growth of that one-location retail shop into a massive enterprise, now headed by his son Corky.

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I first met Harold when he was in-volved in the old National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association, for which he served as president in 1985. During his tenure with the NTDRA, he led the charge on voluntary tire registration and government relations efforts by the association.

More importantly, he was the loving and loyal husband to Lillian for 61 years, and father to Corky, Davis and Christy.

He was one of a kind, a true leader in this business, and he will be sorely missed.

* * * * * * *

As we wind down the year, on behalf of the entire Tire Review team, I want to extend the warmest of holiday greetings to all of our loyal readers, our fantastic business partners and our enthusiastic supporters.

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It’s been a whirlwind year for us – and for you – and I can promise you even more change in 2015. In fact, the next time we meet in these pages, you may not even recognize the place!

Thank you for all you do for your customers and for this great industry. Your successes, even the smallest, do not go unnoticed.

Independent distribution is the lifeblood of the North American tire industry, and it remains strong and vital because of your enthusiasm, the deep concern you have for your employees and the regard you hold for your customers.

Congratulations on a brilliant 2014…and here’s to an even greater 2015!

 

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