Mobility from the retail perspective

My last blog post dealt with Social Media and Digital Influencers. Now let’s look at mobility from the retail perspective. Apple has been the forerunner of the un-tethered sales associate with Nordstrom and Lowes following suit. There are clearly retail segments where having a sales associate out from behind the cash wrap and actively engaging customers on the sales floor makes a lot of sense. Simply being armed with a mobile device isn’t sufficient. Beyond the access and security issues the device has to have supporting software that will allow the clerk to enhance the customer’s shopping experience and increase sales. Let’s explore a few examples where mobile devises will work in retail. Grocery stores provide shoppers with handheld devices to scan items and put them in theirs carts while shopping. These speed up the check out process but also can allow the customers to see past orders, provide coupons and promote store brand and specials. I have a large nursery client using mobile devices in their outside departments. They can scan shrubbery, plants and mulch and complete the sale in the yard or print a receipt and have the sale completed inside the store. Both of these examples make a strong business case for using mobile devices. Before you deploying mobile devices in your store here are few things to consider:

-How will they increase sales?
-How will they enhance the customer experience?
-What investments do I have to make to my wireless infrastructure?
-How will control who has the device for accountability?

From a hardware perspective here a few requirements:

-Are the devices “Ruggedized” by military 810G standards-Business not consumer tablets
-Have a battery life of at least 8-10 hours
-Battery chargers or removable batteries (preferably both)
-Corning Touch Gorilla Glass screen
-Scanner and CC swipe
-802.11 a/b/g/h WLAN Bluetooth
-Minimum of one USB 2.0 ports – two allows n more flexibility
-A docking station with extended battery life and additional I/O ports

Many of the new mobile computers can function as a full POS station in addition to being used un-tethered making even a stronger case for them in retail. As always step number one in the evaluation process is to make a business case for the investment. Without a clearly articulated ROI, don’t make the investment.