Front to back? Mobilising retail from the sales floor to the warehouse

Consumers have become accustomed to around-the-clock access to information, and with more information than ever before at their fingertips, they are less patient and more apt to move on if their needs are not immediately met. It's essential for today's retailers to equip their workforces with the necessary tools to keep customers informed and engaged, and this can be achieved by implementing mobile computing solutions, specifically tablet PCs.


 
While there are a variety of tablet PCs available today, it is important for retailers to examine their workflows and find a solution that truly fits their environment, not the other way around. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work; instead, retailers need custom-fit solutions that are specifically designed for their environments and can handle essential software or productivity applications, have substantial battery life and are powerful enough to support their workflows.
 
When selecting a tablet PC, retailers should keep several factors in mind:

  • Operating system Different operating systems will provide different levels of power and performance. Some may not be compatible with existing point-of-sale (POS) software or provide the security and manageability that retailers need.
  • Durability the device needs to be durable enough to withstand the bumps, drops and treatment that happen in what can be a frenzied work environment.
  • Integrated features integrated features, such as Bluetooth, reliable wireless capabilities, cameras, magnetic stripe readers, barcode scanners, RFID readers and finger print readers, can help improve communication, documentation, and the secure access and transfer of data.
  • Ergonomics the device needs to be built for mobility in that it can't be cumbersome or difficult to use. It needs to be lightweight, have a stylus for more precise input or signature capture, have a display that is viewable under a range of lighting conditions as well as large enough to read important data without having to scroll through multiple pages of information. 

Tablet PCs are responsible for accomplishing what phones, handhelds, laptops and netbooks can't by creating a truly mobile point-of-sale solution with the right size, power, performance, battery life and integrated features that store associates need to keep consumers informed and engaged.
 
By selecting the right tablet PC for their business, retailers can effectively arm and empower store associates and knowledgeable advisors with real-time information at the point of sale (POS). With real-time access to data on products, services and solutions, store associates are able to introduce new offerings and deliver comparisons, creating more opportunities to upsell and cross-sell. This real-time access to information, coupled with the ability to process payments from virtually any location, reduces customer abandon rates, improves transaction times, increases revenue per transaction and enhances the store experience improving overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.
 
Tablet PCs have the ability to mobilize the entire retail market from front-of-house point-of-service solutions on the sales floor to backend inventory management in the warehouse, supply chain and logistics, as well as sales presentations, promotions and merchandising out in the field. Tablet PCs improve efficiency, productivity, employee and customer satisfaction as well as save time and costs.
 
"While extended battery life still tops the list, integrated tools, outdoor display visibility, durability and touch-screen capabilities are all key considerations for mobile productivity solutions," said David Krebs, director of the Mobile and Wireless Practice at VDC Research.

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