Handheld computers have been essential to the retail industry for years because they offer an efficient means of transporting remote orders from the field. Inventory strategies that utilize mobile computers have been proven – time and time again – to produce a better return on investment for businesses by minimizing in-process inventory and eliminating other costs.
The use of handheld computers is now an industry standard, but, even though they increase cost savings, there is still room for improvement. In order for retailers to maximize their profits, they need to begin by adding intelligence to their aging order entry systems.
One of the biggest challenges retailers face is the task of eliminating lost items from orders. For many businesses, product catalogs change frequently and vendors have shifts in the items they carry, so antiquated/legacy handheld computers cannot always be depended on to verify barcodes. Many older handhelds use digit and length checks to ensure that items are entered correctly, but they cannot ensure that items are current products or are being carried in the inventory. Older handheld technology is limited by slower processing power and unimpressive storage capabilities. As more and more products receive barcodes, the problem only gets worse.
Issues also occur on retail store shelves. Moving items to make room for products that just arrived or creating displays with items that are on sale can result in a shelf’s tag not accurately reflecting the shelf’s contents. If an employee scans a shelf’s tag without verifying what is on it, the wrong product could end up being ordered. Incorrect or unnecessary orders damage profits and can even cause a business to lose customers. Taking the time to verify a shelf’s product is a smarter move, but this process is more time consuming and slows down efficiency.
Mistakes/errors like these typically impact revenue enough to account for a loss of 3% to 7% of total sales. Constantly losing revenue is a recipe for disaster, and this unproductive process can even cause retailers to lose customers. In order to overcome these challenges, retailers need to invest in newer handhelds that utilize an intelligent order entry system. Handheld computers compatible with intelligent order entry systems empower remote workers to easily and quickly access real-time information, so processes are streamlined and orders are accurate. For retailers that employ handheld computers, up-to-date and instantaneous information greatly increase efficiency and productivity.
Newer handheld computers allow workers to enter data in a variety of ways, including scanning, keypad entry, and touchscreens – whichever is quickest for the application at hand. An order entry system also allows two-way communication for field workers, meaning that customer and pricing information is updated on the handhelds as soon as orders are sent in; faxing or phoning in orders is no longer needed. Intelligent order entry eliminates manual steps for workers, improving efficiency, reducing paperwork, and minimizing the chance of human error.
Technology is constantly changing the retail landscape. Businesses that react appropriately to these changes are the ones that are most likely to not only survive, but thrive. Losing 3% to 7% of sales because of inefficient processes and technology should never be an option. An intelligent order entry system allows businesses to reduce lost sales, improve profitability, and gain a competitive edge over competitors.