How do you choose the right mobile solutions to support your retail requirements?
As the retail industry continues to evolve at an exponential rate, it’s imperative that retailers stay ahead of the curve. In our last two blogs, The Future of the Retail Customer Experience and Mobile Technology in the Retail Industry: Top Apps Retailers Are Using, we have explored how the use of technology in-store is changing, including how retail mobile solutions are being deployed in order to maximise ROI (return on investment) and how they are being used to improve the customer experience.
In this blog, we’ll discuss how retailers can choose the right mobile solutions to empower their employees, as well as how they can be integrated into the store effectively.
How do you choose the right mobile solution for your retail store?
Choosing the right mobile solutions for your retail store will determine the ROI of your mobile strategy. The wrong devices can drastically hinder productivity, frustrate users, and increase costs. When it comes to choosing mobile devices for the retail environment, there are three choices: consumer devices, enterprise devices or BYOD (Bring your own device).
At first glance, consumer-grade smartphones appear to be viable, aesthetically appealing low-cost solutions, but these devices are designed with consumers in mind and not retail environments. They lack the necessary tools and applications retail stores need to drive productivity, such as in-built scanners, and do not provide the same level of durability and longevity as enterprise-grade devices. Batteries in consumer devices cannot be replaced easily and typically – under continuous usage – will not last a full shift on the retail floor. Furthermore, as the lifecycle of consumer-grade devices is often short, it leaves retailers having to manage a mixed estate of devices.
Enterprise-grade retail mobile solutions, on the other hand, are designed specifically to meet the needs of retailers and have the necessary functionalities to support the entire retail chain. While sometimes more expensive than consumer-grade devices initially, they have greater longevity and durability and are designed to facilitate multiple applications. In addition to this, batteries can quickly be swapped out, ensuring productivity remains high and that devices are always in action, delivering greater device ROI over its lifetime. Also, enterprise-grade devices come with purpose-built accessories that simplify and reduce the cost of backroom management, helping employees to manage every aspect of the retail process seamlessly.
Bring your own device (BYOD)
While a BYOD approach to retail mobile solutions is the cheapest, as the responsibility falls to the employees to get a smartphone, it’s also the most complex. With BYOD, your store would have a diverse device pool, making unifying applications and standardising training on how to use the retail applications installed on the devices both costly and time-consuming. As devices become more critical to staff productivity it can also create practical problems. What happens, for example, if an employee arrives with a phone that is not fully charged at the start of their shift?
On that basis, enterprise-grade retail mobile solutions usually provide the most effective solution and give the best overall ROI.
Enterprise-grade applications and utilities
Enterprise-grade devices come with ready-to-use applications, meaning you don’t have to spend time installing the tools your workforce needs to each individual device. For example, Zebra’s mobile computers all come equipped with its Mobility DNA software ecosystem. Mobility DNA is the industry’s most comprehensive suite of off-the-shelf, end-user applications, administration utilities and application development tools. It delivers the latest (and greatest) in tools and applications for the business environment, taking the hard work out of the software installation process. Mobility DNA also provides Lifeguard, a sophisticated software security tools that extends the lifecycle of your Android device. Another example of a tool designed for the enterprise is Simulscan which optimises the efficiency of data-capture workflow by enabling workers to acquire multiple points of data in a single step. Simulscan, essentially, scans documents and extracts the necessary information.
Consider your ruggedized strategy, approach to operating system (OS) support and what your devices will be used for
Organisations face a choice of three modern mobile operating systems (OS): Microsoft Windows 8/10, Apple iOS and Google Android. When choosing the right mobile OS for your application, it is important to not only look at the IT requirements, but also consider initial and ongoing financial costs, as well as the end-user experience.
Zebra’s OS resources give you insights into the key considerations for each of the three OS options, so you can be sure you are making the right decision. To view those resources, click here.
Migration of existing software and systems
If you are already using handheld devices with legacy operating systems, those devices will need to be migrated to a new Android or Windows 10 Mobile OS. Of course, updating your devices does not necessarily mean a complete rewrite of the applications you use; the software vendor should be able to provide supported code to enable those applications to work. In addition, there are various virtualisation solutions available that will enable you to virtualise applications built for the legacy OS and run them on new Android-based devices; far cheaper than a full rewrite. With virtualisation technology, you can continue to utilise your current devices and applications but on a new, more effective OS. Make sure you plan your migration strategy now to mitigate business disruption and maximise return on your mobile devices.
Device training, support and overall ROI
After acquiring your devices, you need to take into account training staff on using the devices to drive productivity. Modern, touch screen user interfaces can facilitate this as staff members, especially millennials, will be familiar with the user interface. Zebra utilities like Enterprise Home Screen enable you to control the applications shown whilst training videos (or daily briefings) can also be downloaded to the device to help employees get up to speed.
Also, what about ongoing device management? If your store is using iPhones, for example, those devices would then need to be sent back to Apple for maintenance and repair – a costly and lengthy affair. That downtime would cost your store a significant amount of money. However, with Zebra’s enterprise-grade devices, ongoing device management and support is not an issue. Zebra offers Zebra OneCare support services, providing business-specific support for your devices, minimising downtime. The service covers everything from device damage through to technical support and software assistance.
In addition, Zebra offers staging tools to ensure easy device set up specific to your retail environment. This way, IT managers can get applications installed and configured correctly, as well as modify devices to ensure that employees don’t put third-party applications on the devices.
With the right enterprise-grade mobile devices, retail stores can not only improve employee efficiency, but also the overall retail experience. Delivering greater overall value due to functionality, capacity and application, enterprise-grade mobile devices – while costlier than consumer devices – can truly enhance retail operations and offer the functionality retail stores need.
If you want to find out more about choosing the right retail mobile solutions for your store, click on the link below to download our white paper on how to choose the right enterprise mobile solution: