“Technology is rewriting operating models across every sector of the economy, but nowhere do we feel this more in our day-to-day lives than in retail.”
– McKinsey & Company
New technologies, such as iPad POS systems, have changed the way businesses operate, enhancing efficiency and productivity as well as reducing costs and boosting profits. You may not think of your local grocery store or nearby outlet mall as hubs for innovation, but the retail industry is on the cutting edge of the emerging tech explosion, especially when it comes to mobile solutions that enhance customer shopping experiences. As McKinsey & Company states, “Technology is rewriting operating models across every sector of the economy, but nowhere do we feel this more in our day-to-day lives than in retail.”
The Retail Shift to Mobile
Retailers see customers with a mobile devices as opportunities to push location-based notifications with offers and coupons, give information on where to find items in a brick-and-mortar stores, and create additional purchase options if an item is out of stock. Technology for retailers is also simplifying the checkout process by offering mobile payment or scan-and-go, which bypasses the checkout line completely.
These days, many retailers are shifting their focus by offering mobile solutions for associates too. According to the BRP POS/Customer Engagement Survey, mobile devices and tablets are growing faster than other technology in stores, with some retailers phasing out kiosks and traditional POS terminals.
Mobile devices in the hands of customer-facing associates enhance the customer experience by facilitating faster checkouts, collecting customer data and viewing accurate inventory status in real-time. Behind the scenes, these tools improve efficiency when used by employees for processing buy online/pickup in store (BOPIS) orders and in conjunction with “smart shelves” for restocking.
“Many retailers are scrambling to adjust to the ‘Amazon Effect’ and are exploring order fulfillment automation to try to increase the speed and flexibility of operations in order to compete with Amazon.”
Mobility Solutions for Seamless Warehousing
The pandemic has accelerated the e-commerce trend, with online order volumes exploding at historic levels. 2020 online shopping growth in the U.S. jumped more than 30% year-over-year. The sudden shift to online shopping from physical locations have accelerated omnichannel retail trends, such as BOPIS, curbside-pickup, and home delivery. “Many retailers are scrambling to adjust to the ‘Amazon Effect’ and are exploring order fulfillment automation to try to increase the speed and flexibility of operations in order to compete with Amazon,” explains Forbes.
Three mobility automation solutions in warehouse technology that are helping retailers meet new challenges.
- Tablet-enabled Robots: Retailers use autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) such as the Locus Robotics 3PLs for fulfillment warehouses to cost-effectively keep up with huge demand, customer expectations, and limited labor availability.
- Zebra Printers: Bluetooth-enabled mobile thermal printers generate high-quality receipts for BOPIS customers who enjoy online-quality convenience at a physical store.
- Handheld Scanners: Barcodes make it possible to track inventory more accurately while scanning devices allow warehouse workers to quickly locate, pick, ship, and deliver products seamlessly to customers. Smart shelving can also be connected to handheld devices, so employees know when goods are received, placed on a shelf, or leave the warehouse.
Devices like tablets and smartphones make it easier for employees to work anywhere, increasing productivity and responsiveness.
To better understand the drivers behind workforce mobilization and best practices of those deployments, we surveyed over 15,000 organizations for a data-driven look at the current state of workforce mobilization. Our survey found that 86% of organizations are now in the research or pilot phase of deploying devices. Respondents embrace workplace mobilization for three key reasons:
1. Improve Communications
Mobilization helps employees and customers connect more easily and generates speedier response times. Facilitating faster checkout with a mobile POS in a retail environment can also positively influence revenue. Not to mention, “Mobile POS lowers the overall cost of ownership by eliminating or minimizing the need for ‘big iron’ (a thick-client cash register) at store level and virtually eliminating annual hardware maintenance fees,” explains BRP.
2. Faster Transaction Processing
Faster transaction processing is a major contributor to the push toward mobilization. Devices like tablets and smartphones make it a breeze for employees to work anywhere, increasing productivity and responsiveness.
3. Eliminating Manual/Paper Processes
What 66% of organizations seek to impact most by eliminating manual processes is reduced operating overhead and increased revenue. A sales associate in a retail environment armed with a mobile POS can check out customers on the spot, increasing customer store sales, inventory turnover, and upsell opportunities.
Think Beyond Rollout for Successful Mobile Deployment
Because so many organizations are still in the early stages of mobile deployment, their goal may be to simply get devices in employees’ hands. But it’s essential to think beyond rollout. The sustainability of mobile deployment also depends on answering questions like, “What happens when the devices aren’t in use? How can we secure them? Where will they be stored?” Fortunately LocknCharge solutions hold the key successful mobilization projects with the answers to these questions.
Automate Time-Wasting Manual Processes and Minimize Device Downtime with FUYL Towers
While many devices are shared, only 27% of organizations have considered centralized storing or charging as part of their deployment. This is often because organizations are most concerned with selecting the device itself and the apps or content for the device. They aren’t thinking about how the devices will be deployed, charged, stored and secured when not in use. Because devices are prevalent in our daily lives, organizations tend to overestimate employees’ abilities to safely charge, store, and maintain their business devices. The LocknCharge FUYL Tower offers a complete hardware and software solution. Efficiently charge, store, secure and manage workflow for phones, tablets, handheld scanners and other mobile devices in individually-lockable compartments. FUYL Towers work seamlessly in the following situations:
- Check in/out: Designate who can access the FUYL charging tower in advance or on the fly. Towers track who has taken a specific device and when it has been returned.
- Shared Devices: Employees can easily share the same set of devices, no problem. Pre-set access to a specific locker to limit who can access each device. Employees can also charge, store and secure personal mobile devices during their shift. Like a school locker, but way better.
- Break/Fix: Reduce device downtime and minimize the burden on your IT team by automating your break/fix workflow. Employees can quickly drop off a broken device in the FUYL Tower and retrieve a loaner device while theirs is being repaired.
Easily Integrate Mobile Devices into Your Workflow with Putnam Charging Stations
If ensuring device apps and data are up-to-date can be considered software maintenance, then storing, securing, and charging the device could be considered hardware maintenance. Multi-device charging stations such as Putnam™ 18 Tower or Putnam 8 and 16 Charging Stations save time by seamlessly integrating mobile devices into your workflow. They also contribute to reducing other mobilization pains, such as theft and loss, and offer these benefits:
- A centralized point of charging with numbered slots ensures that devices are put back where they came from—and that they’re always charged and ready to go.
- Only takes up as much desk space as a sheet of scrapbook paper. Now that’s compact!
- Putnam 18 Tower slot dimensions are optimized to work with many different devices.
- Putnam 8 and 16 Charging Stations feature an external LED lights show device charging status so users always know which devices are charged and ready to go.
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