There’s no question that today’s retailers are embracing mobility to enhance existing workflows and to add new workflows. The question is: what is the best way to go mobile? Add on to existing systems or replace them entirely?
We believe that the easiest and smartest way to add mobility is to “mobilize” your current retail software. These counter-based systems have been tuned over many years for very high reliability, a full suite of capabilities, and deep integration into a retailer’s inventory andinformation systems. Data security within the PCI Guidelines has also been achieved and built into the retailer’s security processes and confirmed by successful audits. Making the current system mobile, and thus retaining all of these capabilities, is easiest done by using mobile devices that run your current operating system.
For example, SalePoint’s Trovato Software is the backbone of many retailer systems. This Windows-based software can be easily run on Windows-based mobile hardware – such as Motion Computing Tablet PCs. With SalePoint and Motion – the store has access to a wide array of POS functionality in a hardened, mobile platform. Retailers’ IT leaders in charge of store systems have long looked for “retail hardened” when buying in-store systems. The Motion Computing Tablets are “retail-hardened” featuring a greater ruggedness and durability compared to consumer tablets that are subject to failure or damage from dropping. Combined with a docking station and the appropriate retail-hardened peripherals, the Motion Computing Tablet solution competes effectively with other retail-hardened solutions from the top manufacturers such as HP, NCR, IBM and Toshiba.
We’ve seen others propose a very different approach – the use of consumer-grade devices and the full replacement of a retailer’s software. They claim that only “designed-for-mobile” software will deliver the needed capabilities, and that protecting your IT investment is less important than adding new mobile features. We think this is more than short-sighted, we think it a very difficult route for a retailer to take.
Let’s look at the choices a retailer faces if they buy into the need for new devices and software. The incremental approach says that they add some consumer devices running new software from a new vendor for their mobile workflows, but retain their existing systems for their counter-based lanes. This means a hodge-podge approach with different styles and capabilities. Most often, these new mobile systems are not integrated – they represent a stub of data. Additionally, new software offerings typically offer limited and sometimes compromised capabilities. So a retailer can consider reintegrating their new mobile devices, working with 2 or more software companies, and dealing with new protocols to connect databases and information flow.. while only delivering stores a subset of functionality on their mobile device. Really?
Or they can throw out everything they have invested in over many years, and start from scratch. Seriously?
That’s why many retailers are choosing the third way – use mobile devices that run the same OS as their current systems, place that software on the mobile devices, and have their new workflows fully connected and integrated immediately. If additional modules are needed, they have a well-known and stable code base in which to make these additions. Really. Seriously.
Paul Streicher, SalePoint Inc
Bob Ashenbrenner, Motion Computing