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In my ongoing coverage of mobile devices we’ve seen the use of Tablets evolve from a mere email and calendar tool to a key component of a retailer’s day-to-day operations. What’s interesting now is that retailers are beginning to come up with their own ideas of how these devices can be applied to their businesses – in some cases, they have developed their own unique ways of integrating their tablets into their business. In other cases, they’ve come up with ideas ripe for mobile developers to build.
Take Neil Kudrinko, president, of Canadian-based Kudrinko’s Market, for example, who uses a Motorola Xoom tablet. He asked several of his suppliers to provide him with excel files of all the SKUs that he had ordered over the last 12 months. He then arranged the products by department to enable separate purchase orders for each. Now, rather than flipping through page after page of a catalog to write an order, he can scroll through a condensed spreadsheet on his tablet, input the quantities he need, and email the PO directly from the tablet.
Kudrinko believes there are many untapped uses for tablets when it comes to working with his wholesaler. “Sobeys publishes a 500 page catalog with supplier offerings along with seasonal merchandise,” he says. Consider that my book is submitted at the end of the show and then Sobeys has to get people to manually input all the data from my bookings into its order system. Wouldn't it be easier to have an app for our tablets that would allow us to flip through the pages electronically; search by vendor or product; input our data so that it could be uploaded directly to the system; and get a recap by department or delivery date weeks sooner than it currently takes?”
Aaron Floersch, COO/CIO, Ray’s Apple Markets, Manhattan, Kan. Is already using his Android-based 10 inch tablet to streamline how he works with his wholesaletr. At his last wholesaler food show he had the entire show loaded onto his tablet with all of the deals and allowances, and then used the tablet to scan QR codes of products he wanted to order as he walked the show floor.
David Wolfe, owner of Hispanic-themed grocery store El Grillo, Middletown, Ohio, uses a remote desktop app to bring all of the functionality of his PC to his tablet.
“My iPad and my iPhone are both loaded with a VNC viewer (remote desktop) with which I can connect to my store's various POS, money services and other systems for remote control and problem-solving when I'm away from the store,” he says. “Using it I can view and control my store's security cameras, and I keep a sort of reminder list of items I notice that need to reorder as I walk through the store, by scanning barcodes with the camera.”
He has another iPad mounted in the kitchen of his store, and this one provides a completely different function. “It usually displays a PDF with pages containing food safety information such as holding temperatures, heating/cooling guidelines, etc. It also displays incoming food orders to the cooks, who can mark each order "Done" as they're completed.”
Indeed, the uses of tablets – regardless of what operating systems they run -- are basically limited to the imagination of the user, and we can expect more groundbreaking applications of these devices as both the devices – and the users – evolve.
How are you using your tablet for business? Let us know at [email protected]