At Datalogic's Retail Festival held in Venice, Italy last month, Ed Holden, editor of Retail Technology Review, spoke with Francesco Montanari, the company's vice president and general manager mobile computing, about the recently launched Joya Touch multi-purpose device and Datalogic's close relationship with retail customers and channel partners.
Datalogic recently launched its new Joya Touch; a multi-purpose device for use throughout retail, aimed at optimising a company's ROI. With two form factors available (handheld and pistol-grip), retailers can deploy device configurations to match their applications. Changing from one form to the other is quick and easy.
The Joya Touch device comes with several innovative features such as the industry's first wireless charging technology eliminating maintenance and cleaning of contacts on the device and cradles, fast charging mode and Datalogic SoftSpot technology for an easy-to-use soft trigger.
This technology-rich device supports Beacons for hyper-localised content, promotions and location sensing. This handheld device can connect a wide range of peripheral devices such as mobile payment readers, headsets and printers.
Joya Touch can be personalised by the user in several ways: by changing the colour of the upper case and battery cover or even changing the front logo. Additionally, it is possible to order personalised screen protectors with corporate colours and themes or sell as sponsored advertising by consumer goods manufacturers. Main features include:
- Handheld or pistol-grip form factors.
- Wireless charging with 'Boost Mode' and versatile locking 3-bay cradle.
- 4.3 inch HD multi-touch screen with Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
- Bluetooth wireless technology v4.0 with BLE for Beacons.
- Fully supports Datalogic's Shopevolution/queue-busting app or third-party software.
Typical applications include:
- Retail: Assisted sales, pricing, stock management, inventory.
- Self-shopping/queue-busting/gift registry.
- Hospitality and restaurants.
- Inventory: Back office inventory management, ordering, stocking, etc.
- Access Control: Airports, cinemas, theatres, museums, casinos, sporting events, exhibitions/shows.
- Store Floor Applications: Mark downs, inventory look-ups, restocking tasks, in-store picking, shipping/receiving.
Francesco Montanari, Datalogic's vice president and general manager business unit mobile computing, explained that, in addition to the key areas of innovation and development mentioned above, Datalogic's team of engineers and product managers also focused heavily on the ergonomics of the device.
"We initially based the hardware design on a handheld approach, but many customers requested that we also offered a pistol grip option," he said. "So we came up with a way to make it easy for retail customers to change the device from handheld to pistol grip on-site with a simple and quick change of plastic fixture."
Secondly, Montanari pointed out that Datalogic designed the Joya Touch to be used in the most natural and instinctive way when operating it in a highly scanning-intensive environment. He explained that the device's special shape helps facilitate this, but so does the software.
"We included our patented SoftSpot technology, which is a user-definable floating soft trigger that can be positioned anywhere on the screen and programmed to undertake a wide range of tasks. The trigger can be moved to the most comfortable position to suit individual users; whether they are left- or right-handed, or whether they have smaller or larger hands etc."
Montanari explained that when developing the new device the main feedback Datalogic received from customers in the self shopping marketplace was that they wanted to use the product for many different applications. "Because of this, the Joya Touch has not only been designed to be the best device for self shopping but also the perfect device for every store application; whether on the shop floor or in the back room," he said.
Montanari then outlined the process of close liaison with customers during the development process in order to ensure the new device is the best fit for their needs. "When we began the process of determining what type of form factor and functionality was required for Joya Touch, we asked retailers whether they were happy with their devices, what was missing and what their main concerns were and so on. Based on the feedback we received we came up with several concepts. The first thing we came up with was a number of different form factors. We then returned to the retailers to gauge their reactions in terms of what they felt was the best fit for their needs. So we made them very much part of the product's development process.
"Once we had produced working prototypes we went back to the retailers and invited them to use the product. Of course, at this stage of development the product is more or less stable, but there will be areas to improve and adapt based on retailers' experience of actually using the device and providing further feedback and suggestions. This was the process we followed right up to when we launched the device. At this point we had established a number of pilot projects with retailers who has installed the device in one or two of their stores, with plans for a wider rollout if proved to be successful."
Montanari stressed that, with the introduction of the new Joya Touch, Datalogic's existing offerings are still very much protected. "Of course, we can anticipate that phase-out will eventually happen in the future, but this will take years," he said. "The main point is that we are still selling these devices; there are companies that have started rollout of earlier models this year and they want to use the product for the next 5, 6 or 7 years. So even when we phase-out a product we still totally guarantee the support, maintenance, repairs and so on."
Montanari added that customers of earlier devices can easily upgrade to the latest device when required. "This is a fundamental part of our service offering," he said. "This year we launched a device with a full touch screen running Windows Embedded Compact 7 – the latest version of Windows Embedded CE. Some might ask why this operating system? Well, the reason is that all the applications are running Windows CE today and we wanted to guarantee 100% compatibility. So, retailers who have an earlier version of Joya running an older version of Windows CE can easily port the very same application to the new device to enjoy all the advantages of wireless charging, the larger full touch screen and many other features. Once they have the hardware they can decide when they are ready to implement the newer version of the software. Then they just need to make the software upgrade and the hardware is already in place."
With regard to Datalogic's channel relationship and strategy, Montanari stressed that this remains something that is extremely important for the company. "We are extremely happy with this route to market," he said. "We have grown to the level we are thanks to our partners. The main difference today is that we want to be able to be closer to end-users but in so doing be able to pull business for our partners and to guarantee that our partners will receive the very best products from us.
Within the self shopping environment, this is probably a more direct type of sale, which means we talk to the end-users together with our partners because of their special requirements and so on. We would like to see more diffusion of that. We would also like to talk to more ISVs who have developed their own self shopping software. Unfortunately, some ISVs see us as a competitor because we have our own application software, but this is simply not true; we really want to work together. The hardware sale is our main target and we think we have the best offering in the market. So progressively what we are already doing and want to do more is attract more ISVs to our hardware solutions."