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Monday, September 16, 2013

Retail Applications for Mobility and In-Store Wireless Networks

Retail Applications for Mobility and In-Store Wireless Networks
The Retail Industry has always had an intense focus on technology to accomplish the need to increase revenues and lower costs. Wireless technology has been a great enabler to connect people and devices to resources without any wirers. This has greatly improved and dramatically transformed the business process in supply chain, logistics, and inventory management, point of sale and loss prevention. With over 50% of consumers having a wireless enabled device (tablet, Netbooks, laptop, Smartphone) with them when they visit a store it's imperative that retailers consider the wireless network as an improvement in the customer experience. This will allow the consumer to use their devices for couponing, promotions, price checking and for husbands to pass time while their wife is scouring every aisle for deals. The is generation will be known as the explosion of mobile devices.
Retailers can benefit and dramatically improve their business processes in the following areas:
Mobile Point-of-Sale
The typical POS is a wired device located at the fixed cash register location. However, by using a mobile POS the store can use pop up stores within a store with its own cash desk or provide temporary cash desks during busy times. Large Box stores have a lot more room to locate temporary cash locations.
Inventory Management
Store associates can easily use wireless bar code scanners to do inventory management tasks. Store associates with handheld computer devices can check for stock and inform customers if the product is in the back or if it's at another store location. Easy access to information can boost sales as customers are informed real-time and can decide accordingly.
Customer Service
Price Verification kiosks are a blessing for harried shoppers especially when one cannot find a salesperson in the store. These devices are always bolted on some wall or pillar and by not having to use any wiring makes them easy to set up and install. Another kiosk is the self-help kiosk that has a touch screen display making it super easy to look up products or to even find out where they are locate. "Press for Help" buttons that are wireless driven can also be used and I get a kick out of the device then transmitting onto the paging system "help needed in the wire cutting aisle".
Wireless Voice Communication
Walky Talkys are being replaced by wireless telephones and inventory scanners that are voice enabled. Now price check are quick and easy making for faster checkouts and telephone callers can be transferred to sales agents out on the floor to check stock or to ask questions.
RFID and Location Tracking
RFID is gaining ground and is extremely useful in automating inventory management and in some cases manages loss prevention of big ticket items. Typically the tags are read when leaving the warehouse or returning to the warehouse and assist in tracking of goods, but RFID nametags can now track store personnel. If you sneak outside for a cigarette don't' forget to leave your tag inside the store.

Wireless Video
Video is becoming a huge tool for loss prevention personnel with the proliferation of cameras feeding back to TV screens and digital recorders. Digital signage can now be placed anywhere and simply connected to the central server. Wireless LAN speeds are fast enough to support video streaming easily.
Consumer Guest Internet Access
Retailers need to start offering internet access to its customers. How else can they connect to do price checks, simple in-store research or to obtain coupons. Location tracking has become more precise that I can be walking down the cereal aisle at the grocery store and a pop up ad for "Cheerios" could pop up on my iPod Touch or on my iPhone. I don't need to use my data plan bandwidth but can use the wifi network to its advantage. If my wife drags me out to the mall, I could sit with the retirees and enjoy a coffee while keeping busy playing on-line poker and checking out all the silly cat you tube videos. No Wifi,…No Shopping!!!
Naturally, today's networks are safe, secure and are PCI compliant and truly do lower IT costs while helping increase revenues and the customer user experience.

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