How rugged devices can lead the way to retail success

by Andy McBain. Savvy retailers are implementing ground breaking technology to enable themselves to survive and thrive.

by Andy McBain. It’s difficult to say anything new about how hard the past 12 months have been. We are all aware that the global pandemic that has torn through our lives has had a devastating impact on almost every sector, with retail continuing to feel its brutal effects. Less comprehensively covered, however, has been the incredible work retailers have done to adapt and to ensure hopes are high for a much improved year to come. A huge part of this effort is savvy retailers implementing ground breaking technology to enable themselves to survive and thrive.

Equipping retail workers with mobile devices has played a key role, helping them understand what is in stock, enabling them to accept purchases or manage returns from anywhere in the store and ensuring strict hygiene measures are met by having their own allocated devices. Take the EC5x series, for example. Recently launched by Zebra Technologies, the EC5x is a new category of individually assigned Android mobile computers designed to keep workers connected and informed. Here, we take a look at how the deployment of devices is empowering retailers and their workers to keep customers happy, prevent losses and protect revenue, at a time where meeting these needs has never been more difficult.

Improving productivity and efficiency

So, how do personally assigned rugged mobile devices help retailers drive productivity and efficiency? The short answer is through connectivity. Whether deployed by a global retailer or a small medium business (SMB), company-owned, personally assigned devices that can be carried at all times can ensure staff remain connected no matter their location.  Even without the impact of a pandemic looming large, connectivity is a bonus to retailers. In the current situation, it is absolutely vital to improve business agility and responsiveness to ever-changing conditions. By enabling workers to reveal timely insights, connect workflows, and act proactively instead of reactively, devices that equip users with the insight and intelligence to stay ahead of what’s next are invaluable to optimising performance.

Speaking of optimisation, such devices are perfectly designed to empower front-line workers to boost efficiency across a wide range of workflows. From assisted selling, to mobile point of sale (MPOS), to inventory and task management, and more, deploying rugged devices throughout a workforce can drive benefits that will be felt by the workers, the retailers, and the customers themselves.

Transformational technology

The importance of actionable, easily shareable data to the modern retailer cannot be understated. Along with providing instant and secure communication, a workforce equipped with smart mobile devices will be empowered with portability of information. With the ability to better collect and share data throughout an organisation, smart, employee-held devices can allow a retailer and its workers to better understand inventory numbers, driving improved inventory allocation, reduction in backorders and the more efficient accepting and managing of product returns. The benefits of which are plentiful, from elevating the shopping experience, to improving customer care and supply chain efficiency.

Long device lifecycles, meanwhile, ensures the total cost of ownership (TCO) of such devices is approximately half of a consumer smartphone; while security support for Android OS means that the user experience is smooth, and adoption is smoother still.

Why rugged?

What about the ‘rugged’ part of the equation – TCO, return on investment, plus a lower acquisition cost? Unlike consumer devices, enterprise purpose built devices require a level of robustness suited for any retail scenario, from the warehouse, to front of store. Some are waterproof, drop-proof and dust-proof. As enterprise devices resemble their consumer counterparts, retail workers are becoming more reliant on these to carry out their daily tasks. Opting for a device that can integrate a device tracker capability,  ensures it can be located and found if misplaced, which should be a priority.

The reliance on such devices to capture and share data is a key reason for their efficacy in optimising workflows. Given the benefits, it’s no surprise that more retailers are turning to sophisticated, rugged mobile enterprise devices to ensure their workers remain connected, while driving efficiency, and ensuring better security. At a time in which the only certainty is uncertainty, the value of a solution that retailers can rely upon, should not be underestimated.


Main image credit: Zebra Technologies.


Andy McBain is Head of Regional Product Management EMEA, Zebra Technologies (formerly Motorola Solutions).




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