Government Regulation Can Help Retailers
This summer marked California’s foray into the world of regulating the use of mobile phones while driving. It is now the fifth state to regulate cell phone use, joining Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, in prohibiting drivers from talking on handheld phones while driving. This is a category of regulation that is actually helpful to retailers, driving the sale and installation of hands-free mobile products and solutions. Retailers that leverage these new mandates to market their products and services have increased sales, profits and consumer awareness of their differentiators.
It is laudable that these states have taken the lead in bringing some measure of restraint to what many regard as a somewhat perilous situation. More than a dozen states have some form of regulation concerning beginner (or novice) drivers, but only four (California not included) have rules restricting or outright banning text messaging while driving. On top of that, there is little if any regulation covering the use of PDAs, MP3 players, CB radios and walkie-talkies, and even limited regulation concerning mobile phones with a “push-to-talk” feature. In short, the laws are admirable, but they fall short. Many states, however, have a substantial amount of pending legislation that will eventually plug some of the loopholes.
In the final days of June, California retailers were swamped with consumers who were desperately looking for a wireless solution. Although many consumers knew what requirements needed to be met, this group of last-minute shoppers could hardly be considered as part of the cutting-edge. Many retailers had to devote extra staff and training to tackle the issues surrounding the law change. In the end, that extra effort helped retailers gain knowledge on a still-emerging product category, helping them become the consumer’s trusted advisor and sharpening their sales and installation skills for future business.