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Leverage Rugged Tablet PCs in Retail Supply Chain Supply Chain

Retail has always had a reputation as the most Darwinian of business environments. It’s highly competitive and it’s more difficult than ever for even the fittest to survive, let alone thrive. Margins are all but disappearing, making profitability more elusive, too. Retailers are constantly looking for ways to stay abreast of increasing demands and expectations from consumers whose mantra is “it’s all about me.”

Savvy retailers have put a rugged tablet PC into the hands of their salespeople and throughout their supply chain, in an effort to respond faster and more accurately to customer desires for individual attention, service and follow-through.

But it’s not enough.

rugged tablet pc retail retailerTo truly streamline logistics and boost supply chain effectiveness, retailers need more and better information about their inventory. It’s become imperative to find supply chain solutions that provide comprehensive visibility but also sufficient agility to place or move merchandise when and where it’s needed. With rugged tablets already in place, new applications can help personnel to improve in-store accuracy and better manage returns.

A rugged tablet PC puts the new information at everyone’s fingertips. But it also facilitates the kind of integration necessary to support multi-channel fulfillment, an issue that’s top-of-mind for retailers who now have to coordinate in-store, online and perhaps even other sales channels simultaneously. 

Improving inventory visibility.

This is a fundamental issue, as retailers need to know – right now – where their inventory is, whether that’s in the store, in the warehouse or in transit. They need to know its precise location, if it’s in a store or distribution center. That way they’re able to quickly find and shift merchandise as necessary to put it into the customer’s hands. That could mean transferring items from store to store or moving them from the DC into a store so the customer can pick up their online order rather than waiting for delivery.

Improving returns management.

Returns traditionally generate a near-blizzard of time-consuming manual paperwork. It’s more confusing than ever now, thanks to multi-channel fulfillment that raises policy and functionality questions regarding where and how returns can occur. Specially-designed returns management software solutions can help smooth and speed up processing while assuring accurate replacement, costs adjustment, etc. and improving the customer’s experience.

Improving in-store accuracy.

Even the fittest retailers can’t survive without accurate forecasting that facilitates timely inventory replenishment. Even in-transit inventory visibility gains importance, because store personnel can see what’s on the truck and when it will arrive. They can accurately inform customers, if necessary, but also plan labor needs appropriately.

New solutions that offer detailed location-based information prevent unnecessary re-orders and even lost sales, by ensuring retailers are easily able to account for “top stock” inventory housed above sales shelves or in the stock room as well as “out of place” items temporarily moved from their usual shelf for an endcap promotion. Complete, accurate, real-time data also enable managers to make better decisions now and plan better for the future.

Many retailers are also moving toward private labeling, to improve margins and reinforce their own store brand vis à vis big-name merchandise brands. That gives them an even stronger reason to invest in solutions that ensure maximum visibility and traceability.

With these new solutions in place, easily accessible via a rugged tablet PC, retailers will have the visibility they need to respond faster and better to customer and internal stocking needs. The bottom line? Improved efficiencies that can save money and improved customer service that can strengthen loyalty.

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