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Consumer Grade Tablets Don't Cut It In The Food & Beverage Industry

iPads and Android tablets are all the rage right now.  Shiny new toys that people can play with at home, in some social settings, and in the office.  They are cool (note you always see them in a case).  However put those in the hands of food and beverage direct store delivery (DSD) workers and you have a combustible situation.

ipad android broken food and beverage distribution failDSD workers are up and at work before dawn and typically put in a physical 8 to 10 hour day hustling baked goods, snacks, dairy, carbonated beverages, and beer for daily delivery to stores and restaurants.  According to GMA, these products are responsible for 24% of the sales and 52% of the retail profits in the grocery channel!  With this kind of impact, out-of-stocks become a big issue especially for items on promotion. 

So just imagine what starts happening if DSD workers start using consumer grade tablets.  Employees and their jobs are severely impacted, grocery customers get really upset and start giving shelf space to competitors, and then revenue starts to crumble.

One of my co-workers was picking up some beer at the grocery store last week and ran into the beer delivery guy he knows (not one of those TV beer delivery guys) and asked him why he was using paper and did not have his iPad with him.  His reply was interesting, he was afraid to drop it and he found out early on that the radio antennae implementation was so bad he did not have any cell coverage for his company’s browser based app when he was in the store. He added that he just leaves it in the van and that he had to have it on charge or it would not last his full day.

Just thinking about his situation you can feel the anxiety building.  His tablet is a means to an end not the end itself.  His boss and company still expect the job to get done and for him to use his tools on the spot to make sales and to gather critical and accurate data for his company.  How much of that is it accomplishing in his van?

According to VDC Research’s end customer survey, the #1 failure cause is dropping therugged tablet pc food and beverage distribution tablet, #3 is water/liquid exposure, #5 is dust contamination, #6 excessive vibrations, and #7 excessive temperature exposure.  This all causes ripple effects through your organization for support, sparing, replacements, new hardware testing and software integration, loss of productivity for workers and management.  Their latest TCO analysis from the survey data shows that non-rugged tablets cost your business 225% more than rugged devices over a 5 year timeframe.  That figure does not even take into account the lost revenue!

Rugged tablet PCs are tools that will keep working through drops and all the elements, keeping DSD rolling, customers happy, and management and shareholders even happier!


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