Report • 02.06.2014
Current Trends in Mobile Retail Solutions
Overview of the current generation of Mobile Devices and their advantages
Retailers continue to increase their use of mobile devices. No wonder, since current software and hardware provides several advantages in process control and management of staff, inventory and stores. Within the scope of its current focal topic “Mobile Devices“, iXtenso provides an overview of current solutions by various manufacturers.
With the current mobile solutions, retailers are able to optimize their customer service, increase employee productivity as well as improve their inventory overview in the warehouse, along the supply chain and on the sales floor.
From handheld to hands-free device for data collection
One manufacturer, who supports retail with respective products, is Motorola Solutions. For stocktaking, Motorola currently has the new DS4800 series of 2D array imagers in its portfolio for instance, whose flexible design can be adapted to the retailer’s individual branding. The devices capture 1D and 2D barcodes of paper labels and mobile phone displays.
With the TC55 touch computer and the ET1 enterprise tablet, Motorola offers the retail market two additional end devices that increase the performance of store associates and help to improve customer service by employees being able to call up product information in the form of images and videos on the sales floor and show them to customers. Sales associates are equally able to quickly and easily capture barcodes of labels or mobile phone displays or import customer cards.
Motorola also presented an unusual new development at this year’s EuroShop in Düsseldorf: the HC1 headset mobile computer. This hands-free solution enables users to call up documents, videos or pictures via voice recognition or head-tracking capabilities as well as collect data and navigate through applications. The information is displayed right in the field of vision of associates, who now have their hands free for tasks in the warehouse or on the sales floor.
Mobile printing with Cloud connection
Another aspect of using mobile devices that offers retailers advantages is the fast printing of receipts and labels needed at the POS. Zebra Technologies for instance focuses on intelligent linking of printers and other mobile devices on the Internet. This enables real-time information exchange and helps retailers to identify and utilize potential for optimization. In food retailing for instance, real-time data on location and ambient temperatures during transport contribute to delivering sensitive products correctly and safely.
Among many other things, the current Zebra portfolio includes the QLn220 mobile printer and the iMZ series. The QLn220 is a robust and easily integrated label printer; the iMZ series printers are certified for use with iPod, iPhone and iPad and enable mobile printing of receipts at the POS for example.
Mobility and omni-channel take center stage
Toshiba currently also has a selection of mobile devices in its lineup – with a strong emphasis on the mobile aspect. The current highlight of the manufacturer is particularly flexible in its use: store associates can utilize the TCxFlight tablet solution in various ways – as a checkout system, mobile workstation or for customer service. If the customer in the clothing store would like a specific piece of clothing in a different size or color for instance, current information on availability at the warehouse or the nearest store is therefore only one click away. Combined with the docking station, this solution has all interfaces to peripheral devices of a stationary POS system to print out sales receipts for instance.
Software also makes professional use of consumer devices possible
At this point, for many retailers it is no longer a question of making their business processes mobile; anymore it is about which technologies they need when and where. Software manufacturer Ethalon hence offers solutions for mobile inventory management that work with standard smartphones versus special hardware. In this case, an iPod Touch or an iPhone with scanner attachments and an app for mobile inventory management developed by ETHALON are being utilized. After scanning the article, the sales associate can immediately review current inventory, as well as verify how many items are available in the store. The app also grants direct access to the item in the retailer’s online store. While this reduces long lines and unnecessary waiting times, sales percentages and profitability of the store also increase at the same time.
”Mobile command centers“ for retail controlling
höltl Retail Solutions also follows a similar approach. höltl holds a strong position in the “mobile solutions” market segment with –among others- its mobile business intelligence solution BI2GO. It can be used with a smartphone, tablet PC, online-capable POS or a mobile data acquisition device. The advantage of this solution: the user no longer needs to connect to a server, but directly accesses his/her own web application via a browser from the respective end device.
“The app works like a portal that makes it possible to use an entire lineup of applications on a mobile device,“ höltl product manager Peter Dietrich explains the core of the software solution. BI2GO can be both adapted to the needs of smaller retailers as well as those of large-scale retailers. A predefined set of analyses and assessments is available for small specialty retailers. The app offers larger companies an individualized reporting kit.
Optimal service for customers
The use of mobile devices is definitely an important trend in retail, since providing optimum service to connected customers and thus creating a great shopping experience count among the most essential ”weapons“ of brick-and-mortar stores in their competition against online retailers. The mobile solutions offer retailers and their associates in the store important support in their daily work – in the store, directly at the point of sale and in the entire supply chain.
Daniel Stöter, iXtenso.com