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Is your Retail Supply Chain Store Operating as Succuessful as Possible?

A recent Retail TouchPoints survey revealed that retailers of all sizes across the country are going mobile in more ways, using a tablet PC to facilitate the process. The combination of mobile technology and tablets enables retailers to address every operations segment – important because the study shows retailers are uniformly concerned throughout their operations. No single area stands out as a more significant challenge.

The group’s first annual Store Operations survey notes more than a third of retailers plan to increase investment in these priority areas:  

  • mobile technology.
  • product merchandising.
  • employee training.

These increases are planned in spite of the fact that nearly half the retailers surveyed plan to reduce total store operations budgets.

rugged tablet pc retail retailers operationsInvesting in tablets makes it possible.

Using mobile technology with wireless communications and other integrated features,  retailers can optimize efforts to resolve their most pressing problems. Putting a tablet PC in a sales associate’s hands makes them a better-informed, more efficient member of the team.

They can help customers more quickly, with more detailed, responsive information. They can eliminate out-of-stock disappointments by ordering merchandise from other locations right on the spot, for customers to pick up later at the store or receive via home delivery. They can even “ring up” the sale via their tablet PC.  

42% of retailers already provide store associates with mobile technology and 16% say it’s in the works. Putting tablets to work augments product merchandising, but it also improves employee job satisfaction, a fact acknowledged by more than half those surveyed. A tablet PC in the back room, in the warehouse and elsewhere throughout the supply chain allows real-time, fully accurate inventory management, too.   

A tablet PC not only enables personnel to work more efficiently, it’s an ideal tool for employee training. It’s configuration and mobility allow individualization of content and timing of delivery, at virtually any location.

Some retailers noted a need to improve communications with their headquarters. Once again, incorporating a tablet PC enables immediate, detailed information capture and sharing with everyone who needs it. That adds agility to daily decision-making and strengthens forecasting and long-term planning.

It all adds up to greater customer satisfaction, critical to continued success and profitability. And that’s a priority with every company. In fact, 63% say it’s their primary reason for using hand-held tablets.

And it’s working. Retailers report higher dollar-value for nearly a third of sales, and 29% report they’re better able to upsell and cross-sell shoppers.

Multiple channels reveal new problems.

Retailers cannot remain competitive without exploring every available sales channel. But that presents additional difficulties not necessarily easy to resolve. Efforts to promote a particular channel by offering special pricing for Facebook fans, mobile customers or in-store shoppers can actually backfire. Customers can be confused -- or worse, annoyed and disenchanted -- when they see varying prices for the same product. That means efforts to lure customers could actually send them packing.

More than half the survey respondents noted they do offer consistent cross-channel pricing, and another quarter offer consistency across some channels. Those who haven’t addressed this issue at all could be giving customers the impression that the company – and by extension its products – are behind the times, another counter-productive message.

There are internal issues, too. Most retailers aren’t yet crediting stores for online or cross-channel purchases, which could diminish store-level enthusiasm for using mobile technology to the fullest extent.

Nonetheless, it’s clear successful retail operations will be relying more and more on the tablet PC to refine operations and grow sales.


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