Mobility Retail

How to Calculate the Total Cost of Ownership for Your Retail Mobility Devices

Mobility has rapidly become a necessity for retail stores. As customer expectations change and the need for accurate inventory counts increases, wireless and mobile technologies have emerged as a key competitive differentiator for brick-and-mortar retailers.

A number of factors have converged to drive adoption of mobile devices in retail:

  • Customers demand on-the-spot, in-person service. Associates need real-time information about price and product availability.
  • Accurate inventory counts are essential, especially if you fulfill online orders from the store.
  • Communication among your team is essential for efficiency and the ability to deliver excellent customer service.

When it comes time to deploy a new mobile computer or upgrade an existing deployment, how do you know whether the investment you are making is the best value? You have to evaluate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the new devices you are considering.

Do the Math

Calculating a correct TCO will allow you to more accurately select the most cost-effective device for your application. Remember, the lower the total cost of ownership, the faster you can achieve a return on investment (ROI).

TCO is more than just the purchase price of the system — in fact, research firm VDC estimates that hard costs account for only 10% of TCO over five years. While rugged, enterprise-class mobile devices may have a higher sticker price, low-cost consumer devices often have a higher failure rate or may not be able to efficiently handle your application needs. The TCO for those devices is often higher than for a rugged device.

Be sure you take the following factors into account for a more accurate TCO calculation:

Hardware Costs: These include all of your hardware (computers, wireless access points), as well as the purchase price of your mobile software. You may also need to purchase peripherals such as mobile printers, industrial-grade barcode scanners, card readers/EMV chip readers, and other items. Enterprise-class mobile computers typically have a number of these peripherals available; consumer-grade mobile devices (like smart phones) often do not.

Replacement Costs: Replacement cost or the cost to maintain a spares pool also contributes to TCO. Devices that aren’t designed for use in your environment may be more likely to fail or become damaged, resulting in higher replacement/repair costs over the long term. Ask your solution provider about failure rates, and use that information to project those costs. Consumer devices may also become obsolete or may not be supported as long as enterprise devices, resulting in more frequent hardware refresh cycles.

Don’t Forget Soft Costs

Soft costs are more difficult to quantify, but you can project potential costs based on the typical failure/replacement rate of the hardware and your own internal costs. Each time a mobile device fails, it can lead to costly down time and opportunity loss. If the mobile device doesn’t have sufficient processing power or an enterprise-class scanner, it could bog down operations and degrade productivity. For scan-heavy operations (like inventory or receiving), phone or iPad scanners simply decode too slowly to be useful in a retail environment.

Devices that require frequent updating or troubleshooting also increase IT support costs. This is where the use of rugged or enterprise-class devices can positively affect TCO. Because these devices require less support, offer longer battery life, and are designed for robust security, they can greatly reduce future support and maintenance costs.

Rugged devices are built on more stable operating platforms. Consumer device operating systems are upgraded frequently, which can lead to application compatibility issues and other problems.

Finally, modern rugged devices can also reduce training costs and boost productivity. These mobile computers boast the same easy-to-use interfaces as their consumer counterparts, and are available in a variety of form factors (phone, tablet, etc.) that make them more ergonomic and ideal for mobile point-of-sale, assisted shopping, and other consumer-facing applications.

First Impressions Can Be Deceiving

So while the cost of a consumer device may be lower, TCO for those mobile computers is usually higher — one VDC estimate put the average TCO of a consumer handheld at roughly $4,000, compared to $2,700 for a rugged handheld.

Sometimes, the more rugged devices are called “purpose-built” devices.  The purpose is obvious:  design specifically for the operations in your retail, warehouse or other environments.

Before you buy contact us at omniQ, conduct a thorough and accurate TCO analysis on any mobile devices you are considering for use in your retail store.

Barcode Custom Application Development Industry Solutions Retail RFID Hardware RFID Software

Retail Technology: Bundle RFID, Digital Signage, and POS to Improve Your Bottom Line and Sales

Retail technology has become increasingly advanced. At the same time, customers have become more accustomed to using digital channels and devices in their interactions with retailers. For brick-and-mortar stores to continue to compete with online channels, they have to leverage technology in their daily operations to both increase sales and improve the shopping experience for their customers.

While there are plenty of new technologies on the market, the combination of advanced point of sale (POS) solutions, digital signage, and RFID tracking are poised to revolutionize the way retailers and customers interact in the store.

POS — More than Payment

POS systems are a retail technology that has evolved beyond the cash register. Advanced systems now provide payment management and data analytics capabilities that can help your store run better.

The analytics from a POS solution will provide data that can help you track sales and inventory, identify slow-moving merchandise, and help you make better decisions about what should (or shouldn’t) be on the shelf. That same data can also clue you in to when you are making sales, so you can adjust staffing levels for peak and slow sales periods.

Loss Prevention (LP) technology associated with the POS also makes it more difficult for employees to commit theft or fraud. By carefully tracking which employees were working at each station, and by monitoring both inventory and purchase data, you can more quickly be alerted to potential fraud and access detailed purchase records that will make it easier to find out exactly what happened and who was responsible.

A modern POS system also makes it possible for you to meet PCI security requirements, while taking new forms of payment (like PIN and chip cards, or phone payments), issuing gift and loyalty cards, and accepting coupons. All of these features can help bring in and retain new customers.

RFID Improves Inventory Visibility

Major retailers like Marks & Spencer, Saks, Bloomingdale’s, and Macy’s now use RFID at the store and shelf-level to track inventory. American Apparel claims it reduced internal shrinkage by an average of 55 percent across its RFID-enabled stores while increasing sales.

This retail technology provides real-time visibility across the supply chain, right down to the retail shelf. With tagged merchandise and handheld RFID scanners (or shelf-based systems) the time it takes to conduct in-store inventories can be slashed by as much as 80 percent to 85 percent. Real-time inventory information also makes it easier to avoid out-of-stocks by alerting staff when its time to restock based on preset shelf parameters. That can help avoid lost sales by making sure the items your customers want are always on the shelf.

In addition, real-time inventory visibility makes it possible to fulfill buy-online, pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) orders, which can further boost revenues.

RFID retail technology can also augment shrink-control efforts by providing a way to combine POS tracking with electronic article surveillance. Advanced systems can even tell you when something is taken from the shelf but doesn’t make its way to the check-out. For heavily shoplifted, high-value items, this type of advanced monitoring can quickly pay for itself via reduced theft.

Digital Signage in Action

A third retail technology, digital signage, can enhance internal marketing and advertising efforts. The signage is placed at the POS, at service points, at the shelf, and other high traffic areas. The signs can convey advertising and marketing messages, provide information about promotions or special pricing, and in some cases, even create customer-specific marketing messages based on shopper behavior.

Digital signage can reduce or eliminate the cost of printing in-store signage and advertising. It also provides upsell opportunities. Digital signage can encourage the purchase of specific premium brands when placed next to competitive items, for example.
A 2010 Nielson study of digital signage in grocery stores found that four out of five brands experienced increases of up to 33 percent in additional sales compared to the use of printed signage alone.

Integrated Customer Experience

By combining retail technology like POS systems, RFID, and digital signage, stores can also enable new ways to increase revenues and customer loyalty, while improving efficiency. Digital signage that is integrated with a shelf-level RFID solution can present shoppers with promotions or other complementary purchase suggestions based on the items they have removed from the shelf.

Using customer loyalty data and current purchase information at the POS, the solution could also generate additional promotions or incentives to get the customer to return to the store. This type of personalized shopping experience not only improves the image of the store, but also encourages additional purchases.

Shoppers use advanced technology every day, at work, at home, and even in their cars. Digital technology plays a larger role than ever in how customers research and purchase the goods they need. By integrating digital signage, POS solutions, and RFID, stores can leverage advanced retail technology to increase sales and improve the shopping experience for their customers.

Industry Solutions Retail

The Benefits of Using Retail Loss Prevention Cameras for In-Store Analytics

Even with heavy investments in security technology, retail loss and shrinkage is still proving to be an issue for retailers.  According to the National Retail Federation, inventory shrink totaled $44 billion in losses for retailers in 2014. Retail loss prevention cameras are a requirement for businesses these days – not because they necessarily prevent theft from occurring, but because they allow business owners and managers to review incidents and gather evidence after theft has occurred.

Identifying the various sources of loss and shrink can be daunting. Return fraud is difficult to detect, as is “sweethearting” (deliberate employee theft or fraud) at the register. Utilizing cameras – as well as other physical security measures like RFID and electronic article surveillance (EAS) tags – has helped with inventory shrinkage.

However, retailers need to start thinking about other uses for cameras within the four walls of their businesses. Many retail loss prevention cameras are nothing more than recording devices, but newer options make it easy for cameras to also track customer statistics and provide in-store analytics for business owners. These solutions combine analytics software, video cameras, and in-store sensors to provide accurate, real-time data about store traffic and sales.

Newer cameras, which can detect specific movements and activities, can be used to assess basic motion/movement, queue lengths, dwell times, and customer traffic patterns. We have reached a point where most of the technologies we own have multiple purposes – cell phones, for example, are also cameras, computers, and much more. It is time to ensure that loss prevention cameras are maximizing their value for retailers.

Data is more important than ever before, and cameras are perfect for collecting information about all the customers in every section of a store – at all times. While this might seem a little bit like Big Brother at first, in-store analytics can be used to benefit both the retailer and the customers. Managers can assess lines/queues and have the right employees on hand to handle busier days or times. In-store analytics create a more holistic understanding of traffic patterns can help owners identify and eliminate bottlenecks.

As for benefits to the retailers themselves, in-store analytics can be tied into promotions and sales in order to assess and improve effectiveness. Dwell times – how long customers stay in certain areas of the store – should be used when framing the locations of promotions within the store. Also, after a sale has concluded, owners can see how the sale impacted dwell times within the store.

Analytics systems – which go hand in hand with retail loss prevention cameras – can help measure sales conversions, more effectively deploy staff, and improve register wait times and dwell times. That same data can help identify suspicious behavior in the store before merchandise is stolen. These systems can also help note when there may be employee return fraud (if a customer is not present during the transaction), and note if a shopper is trying to enter a restricted area or move in an unexpected or wrong direction.

Retailers will always experience a certain amount of loss or shrink, but by combining in-store analytics solutions with traditional video surveillance and other technologies, stores can more quickly identify and stop theft, spot employee fraud, and implement strategies that will further justify the ROI and open up new areas of profitability.

Mobility Retail Transportation and Logistics

The Disruptive Revolution: The Future of Enterprise Mobility

We often hear the ‘future is now’, and more and more the world seems to be turning into a science fiction movie. Should we be worried or excited about the Disruptive Revolution?  Maybe a bit of both.

We keep hearing about cars driving themselves, fridges that automatically order food from online groceries, and drones and robots taking over self-service operations such as hotels or restaurants. Is technology surpassing humans, and will humans be gradually replaced?  At the forefront of this revolution are disruptive companies such as Amazon, Uber or Google.

This revolution is disruptive, and its growth is exponential.  Here are a few numbers to illustrate this:  By the year 2020, there will be over 220 million connected cars on the road, and, in the utilities industry, nearly 1 billion installed smart meters.  In the USA retail market alone, an estimated $44.4 billion will be generated from beacon-triggered messages.  In the end, the ‘digital rat race’ is fueled by efficiency, productivity and cost savings, and important investments will keep on accelerating.

What are the key drivers to all this? According to Business Insider, there are four key drivers, including Internet connectivity, adoption of mobility technologies, low cost sensors and, of course, investments that fuel inherent ROI.  By 2020, there will be $6 trillion invested in IoT solutions by businesses, governments and consumers, and there will be 24 billion IoT devices installed.  Most of these investments will go towards application development, device hardware and systems integration.

Being at the core of this revolution, omniQ plays a huge role in this transformation as we make sure companies and supply chains are efficient, highly performing and connected.  We understand where this is all going, but like many we have no idea what 2050 will look like. One thing we know is that physical assets are becoming digital, passive objects are becoming visible, and connectivity unleashes data exchanges and it opens up the notion of ‘strategic data’ through Mobile Cloud Analytics.  Data is now driving customer experience and connecting people to environments and ecosystems.

The world we live in is becoming even more complex, and one thing is for sure: We need to remind ourselves of the social, human and environment impacts technology solutions have in our lives.  We also need to keep in mind the basics. Humans need be to remain humanity’s greatest asset, and, in the end, technology needs to be at the service of people – not the other way around!


3 Tips for Retailers Developing Digital Customer Experience Strategies

Customers increasingly use digital channels and devices in their interactions with retailers and brands. They shop online, they scan QR codes with their mobile phones, they price check items on tablets at home, and they respond to offers on digital signage at stores. Managing the digital customer experience, like the in-person customer experience, is critical for retention, customer loyalty, conversion, acquisition, and referrals.

Luckily, all of those digital interactions generate data — and lots of it. That data can provide insights into channel preferences, pricing and buying behaviors, conversion rates, campaign effectiveness, and other critical areas. Below, are three important tips for developing digital customer experience strategies.

1.  Leverage analytics: You have to bring analytics to bear on all of that digital customer data to learn what your specific customers expect from their experiences with your company, both online and in person. Tracking information in spreadsheets or making educated guesses is no longer sufficient. Data analytics applied to the data you glean from website behavior and in-store digital activities can improve forecasting, promotions planning, online recommendations, shelf layout, and other important activities. Your customers are providing valuable information via the choices they make while they utilize your digital services; analytics helps turn that information into usable business intelligence.

2. Operations must support the digital strategy: The initiative must look beyond the front-end digital customer experience. It’s important to have an easy-to-use website and to offer mobile access (either through apps or a mobile-optimized version of your website), and it’s important to provide ways for shoppers to interact with you digitally while they are in your store. But your back-end operations have to be able to support those interactions. Pricing must be accurate and up to date. You must have real-time inventory information available so that customers can see what is available. You need the infrastructure in place within your supply chain to respond to orders, transfer inventory across stores or distribution centers, and have the forecasting capabilities in place to avoid out-of-stocks or markdowns.

3. Deploy intelligent digital signage: Digital signage in the store can act as a bridge between the digital customer experience and in-person interactions. One key e-commerce innovation (pioneered by Amazon and others) is the ability to automatically generate recommendations to customers based on the products they were viewing on a website or their previous online behaviors. In a brick-and-mortar store, those types of recommendations come from seasoned sales associates, but staff can’t talk to every customer every moment they are present. Digital signage not only provides eye-catching displays, it can provide recommendations to customers based on the merchandise they are viewing near the display. It can also encourage them to access the store or brand’s online resources and make impulse purchases based on special offers.

With digital signage, retailers can convey multiple messages at different times at a single location. That makes them more flexible (and valuable) than traditional paper signage and transfers some of the elements of the digital customer experience to the store. The technology also enables retailers to more quickly respond to the customer and inventory data they are receiving. Offers and information can be changed in real-time based on anything from unexpected drops in demand to extreme weather events. The digital customer experience plays a key role in increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. Your customers should have a seamless, predictable experience whether they are interacting with your brand online, in a store, or via their mobile devices.

Retail RFID Hardware RFID Software

In-Store Analytics: The Future of Retail

The balance of power when it comes to information has shifted from retailers to shoppers with the advent of e-tailing. Shoppers now have access to an infinite amount of competitive pricing information. Even if customers walk into a retail location, they may simply evaluate products in person, then purchase online from another retailer, or hustle down the street to a competitor who is offering a better deal.

Retailers need to be able to evaluate real-time consumer data in order to capture customer business more effectively. More importantly, they need access to in-store analytics capabilities to turn that data into actionable business information. According to the Forrester Consulting and RetailNext study “Real-Time Data Drives the Future of Retail,” consumer and retailer perceptions are not aligned, and many stores lack the technology to utilize shopper data across channels. The study also found that retailers struggle to measure customer behavior. Just 33 percent, for example, reported always measuring conversion rates.

Forrester believes the store of the future will be powered by real-time in-store analytics that can predict shopper behavior over the entire “shopping journey” across multiple channels.

This means more than just head counts and point of sale data. In-store analytics allows retailers to evaluate everything from the effectiveness of a display, apparel size selection, and store layout by tracking how customers interact with merchandise. Why did they try something on and not buy it? Are there areas of the store that customers simply don’t walk through? Is end-cap display placement affecting sales of nearby products?

Consumers shop with their mobile devices and expect to encounter sales associates who can use that same technology to help them find the right product at the right price. Those shoppers also want to experience a consistent sales experience and consistent pricing across channels.

Using analytics, retailers can evaluate traffic, conversion, fixture engagement, shopper paths, and other data, and use that information to rapidly adjust their marketing and in-store operations, as well as provide better data so that buyers and planners can make better decisions. The data can help stores evaluate why a particular item didn’t sell or help prepare for a potential out-of-stock situation.

Real-Time Data Fuels Analytics

Getting that data requires the integration of point-of-sale data, online channel data, information from in-store sensors and RFID systems, and data pulled from other mobile and online interactions. This investment in in-store analytics, combined with the ability to quickly share data across operational areas, can help retailers respond more quickly to sales trends, provide information that can be useful in vendor negotiations, and create more effective buy plans.

Analytics can also help address other data gaps in retail. When customers enter a store but don’t purchase anything, retailers gain zero data. Additional information from sales associates and sensor/RFID systems could help provide a better understanding of those shoppers. In-store analytics can provide information that will help improve product mix optimization, and gain a better return on investment in their data collection activities. Analytics can also improve the use of campaigns and promotional displays based on actual customer behavior.

By linking in-store mobility systems to customer data, sales associates and managers can respond more quickly to customer needs while they are still in the store, which can help increase conversions and turn shoppers into buyers. Stores can also improve staffing levels based on shopper volume, improve store layout, or co-locate products that are frequently purchased together. Getting shoppers into your store is only half the battle. Analytics can help you better understand the customers you’ve already attracted, keep them coming back, and encourage them to buy more from you, and do so more often.

Retail Wireless

3 Ways Wireless Retail Solutions Improve Operations

As a retailer operating in a highly competitive environment, you need to find and leverage every advantage you can. Most retailers have a wireless network that enables mobile devices to communicate with the point of sale (POS) and back office — but are you taking advantage of this asset to improve your operations? Your wireless retail strategy should include collecting data for business intelligence, enabling merchandising solutions, and supporting your overall marketing program.

1. Business Intelligence. Your wireless retail infrastructure is the link that helps you gather data on your customers, your staff, and your inventory — data that can help you make informed business decisions and stay a step ahead of your competition. Software applications can enable you to monitor specific types of transactions and to find data collected from smartphones, mobile devices or sensors, or video at the same time. This can enable you to drill down and find common trends that make the customer engagement successful — or to find behaviors or trends that result in not getting the sale.

2. Merchandising Solutions.Solutions that can help you consistently and efficiently manage your merchandise are also possible within a wireless retail environment. Your wireless infrastructure can support digital in-store displays that present up-to-date messaging managed from your POS system, as well as kiosks that can provide product information, engage customers with coupons and special offers, and capture their information for your loyalty program. In addition, displays can help you fight showrooming by letting your customers know you will match competitive pricing. Wireless retail systems can also help you track customers with active Wi-Fi on their smartphones, giving you information on high traffic areas that are good choices for displays and kiosks.

Wireless retail infrastructure also supports digital signage that facilitates quick and efficient execution of corporate marketing promotions, correctly and consistently showing sale prices — which can be preset to change at the moment the sale begins and to change back to the regular prices when the sale ends.

3. Marketing.Your wireless retail infrastructure can also support your overall marketing initiatives. Your sales associates, empowered with information on their mobile devices — thanks to a wireless retail environment — can engage customers with “clienteling,” establishing relationships with customers based on their purchase history and preferences, which will help them provide exceptional customer experience.

Another example of wireless retail infrastructure supporting marketing is a Wi-Fi loyalty program. Offer Wi-Fi to your customers to use in your store if they register — and provide a coupon or special offer for those who do. The next time they enter the store, they are automatically signed into your Wi-Fi network, which gives you a platform for communicating special offers or promotions — as well as collecting customer data.

Your wireless infrastructure can be more than just a cost of doing business. It can actually contribute to initiatives and strategies that help you boost revenues. Moreover — and maybe even providing more value — the exceptional customer services and level of engagement that you will be able to provide can differentiate you from the competition and make you the customer’s choice.

Barcode Order Entry Retail

3 Things to Look for in a Retail Barcode Solution

Barcodes are a fundamental part of retail automation solutions. Advanced retail operations use barcodes to guide and document nearly every operation, from initial packaging and shipping, through supply chain management, delivery, in-store inventory placement, and the point-of-sale transaction.

Mobile computing and data capture solutions (including barcodes) provide retail companies with better visibility and control over inventory and stock levels, improved employee productivity, and a better overall customer experience. However, not all retail barcode solutions are created equal. Here are three things to look for in a barcode system:

1. Intelligent Order Entry

This functionality is important both for suppliers that have field sales representatives visiting retail clients, and for retailers who are able to place replenishment orders from the sales floor. Field sales personnel need a real-time view of customer and product information to do their jobs effectively. Phoning and faxing orders from the road is inefficient and can lead to errors, delays, and lost sales opportunities.

An intelligent order entry solution eliminates “blind ordering” from the field by enabling two-way communication between the sales team and your enterprise systems. As orders are sent in from customer sites, product, customer and pricing information can be updated on their mobile computers.

For retailers, using mobile computers to place new orders based on in-store inventory scans can result in more accurate and timely replenishment and fewer out-of-stocks.

2. Inventory Management

The key to having the right item on the shelf at the right time is through effective inventory management. Automatic data collection solutions (such as barcodes and RFID), combined with wireless networks, can help manage the inventory flow from the receiving area to the stock room, and even to the shelf.

Nearly every level of packaging includes a barcode, so retailers can use the technology to maintain tight and accurate control over inventory. At the warehouse, every pallet, case, and unit-level item can be scanned as they enter and exit the facility, providing an accurate shipping record.

When goods arrive at the retail location, store staff can scan the products as they enter the stock room or when they go on the shelf. These records can then be compared with point-of-sale scans at the register to maintain highly accurate inventory data.

Having all of these scans linked to an online portal can provide every stakeholder with updated shipment status and sales data. Scan data can also be used to generate automatic replenishment orders and maintain a continuous inventory record.

3. Leading Edge Data Collection and Mobility

Mobile computers and tablets are playing a lager role in retail operations as well. In the field, sales staff can use handheld computers to scan on-shelf inventory, accept customer signatures, process payments, and send orders directly to the back-end enterprise solution.

At a retail store, mobile associate solutions can improve stock management by allowing staff to use barcodes for inventory and for price checks. Associates can also use their mobile computers to check backroom stock for customers, order merchandise from a supplier or initiate a transfer from another store location.

Many retailers have also leveraged tablet technology to rapidly increase their checkout capacity during peak times/seasons by providing the ability for associates to accept payments on the sales floor. These line-busting applications can be rapidly scaled up or down to meet demand.

Barcoding technology can deliver higher same-store sales, fewer out-of-stocks, and increased inventory turnover, while also providing long-term efficiencies for retailers. When selecting a retail barcode solution, make sure to carefully evaluate all of the features and functions, and find a solution that will help take your retail operations to the next level.

Field Sales and Delivery Retail Route Accounting

How to Develop a Direct Store Delivery Model for Your Business

Competition in the retail world has intensified, and companies looking for a competitive advantage have to find ways to reduce costs, shorten delivery cycles, reduce inventory in the supply chain, and respond faster to demand. That’s why so many suppliers have moved away from multi-stage distribution to a direct story delivery (DSD) model.

DSD is particularly appealing for companies that require tight delivery windows for their products, and for smaller retail outlets (gas stations, convenience stores, drug stores, etc.) that need frequent replenishment. It has also become the favored distribution method in markets where freshness is important or product is produced locally — like beer, soft drinks, baked goods, and snacks.

Direct store delivery can help manufacturers be leaner and more responsive to market demand. Using DSD, suppliers can typically deliver goods within 24 to 48 hours of taking an order – much faster than if a centralized retail distribution center or a third-party distributor is involved.

This type of delivery model helps retailers that want to reduce inventory and operating costs, while offloading the merchandising activities to the delivery company rather than the retailer. For the distributor, that means they have more control over merchandising and presentation on the shelf, which can help drive sales. Retailers, meanwhile, don’t have to dedicate staff to stocking and merchandising high volume goods.

But direct store delivery isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Companies interested in shifting to DSD operations have to develop a model that will work for their business. Doing so involves several key steps:

  • Create a Demand Profile: Examine sales data to determine what type of retailers you are dealing with, and how much order volume they generate.
  • Determine Your Sales Approach: How much sales activity will occur during the delivery stop vs. online? Pre-sales help the distributor manage inventory and manage demand, but can tie up the driver when these sales activities are handled face to face. Evaluate your delivery staff and sales staff to determine the best way to manage the sales process.
  • Plan the Route: Use route planning tools to best serve the demand of those customers. Routes have to be built around a variety of factors (distance, speed limits, hours of service considerations, limits on truck size or hazardous material transport, etc.). Make sure the routes are optimized to take as much cost out of the distribution process as possible.
  • Track Your Trucks and Inventory: Direct store delivery can help reduce shrink and loss. Use GPS to monitor truck locations (and recover missing vehicles), as well as onboard inventory tracking to monitor shrink or merchandise theft.
  • Invest in Proof of Delivery: Don’t rely on paper. A combination of DSD software, barcode scanning and mobile computing can automatically track inventory, generate receipts and invoices, allow digital signature capture, and provide real-time visibility into deliveries. This can also improve the efficiency of the drivers, reduce the cash cycle, and eliminate delivery disputes with retailers.
  • Prepare to Analyze Delivery Data: Using real-time inventory and order information, manufacturers can get a better view of real demand across a category, a retailer, or a route. By tracking shrink/stales, suppliers can make better inventory recommendations to customers, and improve the profitability of each customer.

Direct store delivery is a growing part of the retail landscape. For specific types of companies, DSD can reduce costs and improve service and sales for retailers. Planning ahead and developing an effective DSD model that fits your business will help ensure you get the most benefit from your DSD system.

Order Entry Retail

Retailers Can Maximize Profits with an Intelligent Order Entry System

Handheld computers have been essential to the retail industry for years because they offer an efficient means of transporting remote orders from the field.  Inventory strategies that utilize mobile computers have been proven – time and time again – to produce a better return on investment for businesses by minimizing in-process inventory and eliminating other costs.

The use of handheld computers is now an industry standard, but, even though they increase cost savings, there is still room for improvement.  In order for retailers to maximize their profits, they need to begin by adding intelligence to their aging order entry systems.

One of the biggest challenges retailers face is the task of eliminating lost items from orders.  For many businesses, product catalogs change frequently and vendors have shifts in the items they carry, so antiquated/legacy handheld computers cannot always be depended on to verify barcodes.  Many older handhelds use digit and length checks to ensure that items are entered correctly, but they cannot ensure that items are current products or are being carried in the inventory.  Older handheld technology is limited by slower processing power and unimpressive storage capabilities.  As more and more products receive barcodes, the problem only gets worse.

Issues also occur on retail store shelves.  Moving items to make room for products that just arrived or creating displays with items that are on sale can result in a shelf’s tag not accurately reflecting the shelf’s contents.  If an employee scans a shelf’s tag without verifying what is on it, the wrong product could end up being ordered.  Incorrect or unnecessary orders damage profits and can even cause a business to lose customers.  Taking the time to verify a shelf’s product is a smarter move, but this process is more time consuming and slows down efficiency.

Mistakes/errors like these typically impact revenue enough to account for a loss of 3% to 7% of total sales.  Constantly losing revenue is a recipe for disaster, and this unproductive process can even cause retailers to lose customers.  In order to overcome these challenges, retailers need to invest in newer handhelds that utilize an intelligent order entry system.   Handheld computers compatible with intelligent order entry systems empower remote workers to easily and quickly access real-time information, so processes are streamlined and orders are accurate.  For retailers that employ handheld computers, up-to-date and instantaneous information greatly increase efficiency and productivity.

Newer handheld computers allow workers to enter data in a variety of ways, including scanning, keypad entry, and touchscreens – whichever is quickest for the application at hand. An order entry system also allows two-way communication for field workers, meaning that customer and pricing information is updated on the handhelds as soon as orders are sent in; faxing or phoning in orders is no longer needed.  Intelligent order entry eliminates manual steps for workers, improving efficiency, reducing paperwork, and minimizing the chance of human error.

Technology is constantly changing the retail landscape. Businesses that react appropriately to these changes are the ones that are most likely to not only survive, but thrive.  Losing 3% to 7% of sales because of inefficient processes and technology should never be an option.  An intelligent order entry system allows businesses to reduce lost sales, improve profitability, and gain a competitive edge over competitors.