Tablets are hot in 2012. Seeing all those iPads in people's hands, being used at home, on the go, and in business environments, is proof of that. And while many businesses, outside of those in creative pursuits, haven't adopted Apple computers in high numbers, the hot selling tablet seems to be changing all that.
Good Technology's quarterly data report from July, 2011, shows that the iPad made up 27 percent of all workplace device activations during the quarter, second only to the iPhone, and greatly outdistancing Android tablets.
Further, a national survey by RIS (Retail Info Systems) News reports that 28 percent of retailers are currently testing tablets in their stores, while 31 percent plan to try them out this year. And tablet markets for both Apple and Google's Android OS are forecast to show significant growth in the next few years.
POS Software and Tablet Integration
So how are retailers using POS software to integrate tablets into their stores? What features are they looking for?
While some retail stores may be limiting tablet use to functions such as customer Internet searches and other product display capabilities, many are turning to these portable computers for heavy lifting in the point of sale arena. Managers and employees are taking tablets onto the sales floor and using them to enter product orders, check inventory, and even find out when the next shipment is expected.
That said, here are some of the benefits of order management using POS software and tablets:
(1) Increased employee productivity. Often moving from the sales floor to a POS terminal can delay or disrupt the sales process. Using tablets to enter product orders wherever you are in the store can help workers get things done while at the same time meeting the needs of customers.
(2) Reduce out-of-stocks. Placing an order for an item that appears to be available, then finding out later that it's not in inventory reduces customer satisfaction and increases stress on your front line workers. With real-time ordering and inventory availability, you'll always know what you have and what should be ordered. And with the ability to see when the next shipment is due to arrive, you can give your customers a better idea when a desired item will be back in stock.
(3) More payment flexibility. While credit card processing has traditionally been tethered to hard-wired POS terminals and card swiping machines, new POS software is changing all that. Options for swiping or entering credit cards using a mobile device such as a tablet, means you'll never miss a sale when a customer is ready to buy.
POS Software Solutions For Tablets
Now that you know a little bit more about how tablets are fitting in, here are a few of the POS software solutions you'll be seeing in the retail environment.
At the recent National Retail Federation (NRF) Expo, DecisionPoint Systems unveiled tablet-based order management solutions for retail. Using Android-based POS software running on enterprise tablets, the software was created for compatibility with most available tablets. In addition, the company offers an application called "Create Your Look," promising to help retailers provide a more personalized shopping experience for customers. The mobile app gives workers the freedom to assist customers with purchases, anywhere in the store.
In conjunction with their partners, Aruba Networks presented (also to the NRF crowd) a new tablet-based POS software, designed to give retail employees a platform to complete sales transactions reliably and securely from anywhere in their store. Combining Infinite Peripherals' Linea Pro, a combo bar code scanner and credit card swiper with LightSpeed Mobile, a mobile POS app, the complete solution gives retailers the ability to prioritize POS apps over less critical traffic on the wireless network, providing the best possible customer experience.
A company that's just completing a beta testing phase for tablet POS software is called Deploid. Designed to run on both the Apple iPad and Android tablets, this plug-and-play solution has an intuitive interface that's easy to use the first time.
Operating via a wireless connection, the Deploid product can be programmed to interact seamlessly with any number of additional tablets. That means quicker service and less downtime for everyone.
Tablets are a natural fit with the point of sale, especially when considering the needs of today's retail employees and customers. As managers look for strategies to squeeze additional productivity out of their workers, while those same workers need to provide exceptional customer service to consumers with a short attention span and many online shopping options, the portability and usability of tablets comes to the forefront.
Whether you need POS software for a single tablet, or to equip an army of salespeople, at least one of these new offerings should provide the perfect solution.