Robin Coles, Head of product strategy at retail IT consultancy Retail Assist
Retailers have begun to get switched on to the idea that bringing tablet computers onto the shopfloor can help them tap into a smarter way to keep tabs on their product mix, stock levels, returns and orders.
What’s more, tablets enable staff to carry out multi-functional tasks - from one device they can not only manage stock, but also carry out staffing tasks like timesheeting through to taking in-store customers online to view the season’s full collection.
In the fashion-conscious environment, Apple iPads have seemed the default choice, but buying multiple devices per store can soon add up to a cost that isn’t going to make the finance director very ‘appy’. So it’s interesting to see that Google’s Nexus device is emerging as a real alternative, and at a price that could halve the investment required to get the store tapped into this technology.
We are currently piloting the use of our Merret supply chain software services using the Google Nexus device on behalf of a high street fashion retailer, and we anticipate roll-out across the estate in early 2014.
At the same time we continue to look at how new kids on the block such as Microsoft Surface could also provide retailers with alternative ways to connect their IT across multichannel retail.
Despite these new options, we still love our iPads and recognise that the brand appeal of Apple can add to the retailer’s own brand and in-store experience, which could be a factor in choosing which device to arm staff with.
Retailers looking to up-spec their shopfloor kit might want to remind the finance director that even as the expensiveoption, iPads can be half the cost of a hand-held payment terminal, so switching to tablets could be an easier pill to swallow to tap into next-generation retailing IT.