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Current and future use of technology in the retail sector
Transcript of Current and future use of technology in the retail sector
Management of in-store inventory, both in the retail space and the warehouse, is a major area of expense for retailers. Merchandise must be entered into inventory upon arrival at the loading dock, tracked when it is moved to the floor, and removed from inventory when it is sold. In addition, real-time inventory information must be available to store clerks when an item is out of stock on the floor, but is available from the store room or warehouse. Finally, accurate inventory information can reduce out-of stock conditions.
There is no magic technology that by itself can boost margins, fix operating problems, and guarantee customer loyalty. Only people can do these things, along with a well-executed operational plan – but technology can help. Successful companies today must build technology into their businesses, and we are here to help them.
Point-of-Sale (POS) is the physical location where goods are sold to customers. Traditionally, this was a counter
where a cash register was located. Customers would line up in front of the counter and wait for their turn. Sales
counters are a fixed size, however, and can support a fixed number of people. Increasing the size of the sales
counter is not possible, so customers are forced to endure long lines during congested periods such as holidays.
Technology is a relatively inexpensive way to improve customer service. Besides long checkout lines, two of the
largest sources of customer complaints in retail establishments involve pricing problems and a lack of available store associates to help locate merchandise or answer questions. Wireless technology can help on both fronts, without requiring a retailer to hire additional staff.
Current and future use of technology in the retail sector
Wireless LAN technology can help in two major ways:
• Fully mobile point-of-sale stations can be set up using handheld computers, scanners, and printers with integrated credit card readers. During high-volume sales periods, salespeople outfitted with these mobile POS terminals can be positioned throughout a store at small tables. For customers paying by credit card, the full transaction can be completed and a store receipt printed where it is convenient for the customer. Clearly, strong security is a requirement from the network when credit card transactions are involved. A later section in this white paper will discuss security requirements in much more detail.
• Mobile “line busting” personnel can move through checkout lines with handheld computers to accelerate the checkout process. The sales staff can use their own judgment in processing each transaction. For credit card customers with a small amount of merchandise, the entire transaction may be completed while the customer is still in line. For other customers, merchandise can be scanned with a barcode scanner and a ticket printed with prices and a master barcode on it. While waiting in line, the customer has the chance to review prices printed on the ticket. Upon reaching the checkout counter, the ticket is scanned, the total amount is recalled from a backend system, and the transaction is completed without the checkout clerk needing to process each
In the shipping and receiving area, wireless technology can be used in the form of handheld barcode scanners and entry terminals linked to back-end systems over wireless LAN.
Store associates using wireless-enabled handheld computers can easily and quickly perform inventory management tasks. For example, handheld computers with integrated barcode scanners can be used during restocking periods to instantly track how much product is on the floor and how much was moved to the floor from the back room. When merchandise is available in the warehouse or back room but is out of stock on the main floor, store associates can easily use wireless terminals to view the location of merchandise. With the addition of wireless printers, price updates can also be performed on the spot.
First, price verification kiosks have become very popular with
retailers and tech-savvy customers. Promotional sales, mislabeled merchandise, missing shelf price tags, and returned merchandise can make determining an accurate price difficult for customers. If a price verification kiosk is nearby, customers can take the merchandise, scan the barcode tag, and quickly determine the actual price. If a printer is attached to the kiosk, customers can print their own advisory price tags as well. While these price tags
are not used by store personnel at the point of sale, they can be helpful in resolving pricing disputes because the customer can verify that the cash register records the same price the customer expected to be charged. Wireless technology assists in placing price verification kiosks because it eliminates the need for cables and makes the kiosks mobile.
Another area where wireless can improve the customer experience is in obtaining assistance with merchandise or
other questions. Self-help kiosks can be easily placed around a store giving customers touch-screen access to
store directories, inventory information for all nearby stores in a chain, current sales, and product information.
Some retailers have augmented these self-help kiosks with a “get help” button. When pressed, the system alerts
nearby store associates carrying Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) that are voice-enabled. A store associate may
respond either by voice or through pre-defined text messages such as, “I’m helping a customer now but will be
there in approximately two minutes.” Such kiosks often can let customers find their own answers to questions, and
eliminate the need for a customer to walk around the store trying to locate associates.
The retail industry is one that lives and dies on margins, with managers on a never-ending quest to increase revenue and decrease costs.
Technology has been an area of intense focus in retail industries as a way to
accomplish both goals.
Us developers, can help growing businesses, by bringing technology into their processes( supply chain management, inventory management, customer experience and loss prevention) and improving the system line of code by line of code, while mending to retailers visions.
Technology can help but bad technology can make things worse!
"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."
- Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple