By Nick Mann

There’s no denying the impact that tablets and other mobile devices have had on the modern economy. Not only have they transformed the way that e-commerce sellers do business, they’ve unlocked a host of opportunities for brick-and-mortar retailers as well. Here are some specific ways you can utilize tablets/mobile in your day-to-day business operations.

Inventory management

Having the right quantity of a product is incredibly important for keeping up with consumer demand and for the long-term sustainability of your company. Fortunately, inventory management has come a long way in recent years. Utilizing tablets/mobile is the logical next step in the evolution of inventory management.

Now there are numerous mobile apps that allow you to keep a close eye on inventory levels at all times. Some common features include:

– Checking product counts

– Monitoring shipments

– Instantly searching for a particular product

– Sorting and filtering products

– Barcode scanning capabilities

An added benefit is that many of these apps visually display information so that it’s presented in an extremely intuitive way. You also don’t have to be at a stationary computer to perform inventory management. Instead, you can move throughout your store and seamlessly keep tabs on inventory with ease.


Assist your employees

A 2014 report from Edgell Knowledge Network (EKN) found some interesting statistics regarding how retailers are using mobile devices to make their employees’ lives easier. Here’s what they found:

– 35 percent of retailers use mobile devices to track and manage orders

– 33 percent use them to receive shipments

– 20 percent use them to access personalized daily task lists

– 17 percent use them to communicate internally in real-time

This shows the variety of ways that tablets/mobile can be utilized in a brick-and-mortar setting. They can be incredibly helpful for streamlining your team’s daily tasks and for improving communication. You can also expect to see a reduction in communication-related errors.


In-store kiosks

Your customers will inevitably have questions about products. One way you can provide answers and improve the overall customer experience is to turn tablets/mobile devices into in-store kiosks. In fact, the same report from EKN found the following:

– 63 percent of retailers use mobile devices to allow customers to find product information

– 43 percent use them to allow customers to check product reviews

– 29 percent use them to help customers call for customer service

– 18 percent use them to help customers navigate the store

Many people love the interactive nature of in-store kiosks and find that they greatly improve the customer service experience. Younger generations like Millennials and Generation Z in particular are accustomed to obtaining information in this type of digital format.

It’s also beneficial on your end because you can ensure that your customers have their questions answered and needs addressed in a timely manner without having to hire additional sales reps. Over time, this can improve your profitability considerably.


Product demonstrations

Let’s say that a customer is interested in a product, but they want to learn more about it before actually making a purchase. If they’re simply looking at it inside a box, it may seem one dimensional, and they may not fully understand all of its features.

But you can use tablets/mobile to provide your customers with product demonstrations. In seconds, customers can learn all about a product’s features and benefits and actually see it in action. By watching a video or slideshow, the product instantly comes to life.

This is advantageous for two main reasons. First, it can minimize or eliminate any confusion that a customer may have about a particular product. Second, you can expect a higher conversion rate because your products should seem more appealing to prospects than if they were only looking at them inside a box.


Enhance the point-of-sale experience

A final use for this type of technology involves the checkout process. Rather than using cumbersome, antiquated cash registers, more and more retailers are opting for tablets/mobile. In fact, studies have found that “70 percent of retailers are now considering tablet POS systems.” Why? They have a clean, sleek appearance that looks both professional and eye appealing. Remember that the checkout experience can have a major impact on your customers’ overall opinion of your business and whether or not they will return or recommend you to others.

Mobile POS systems also allow you to process payments from anywhere in the store. This is great because you don’t have to herd customers like cattle into a line at the front of the store and can reduce the checkout time.

Or, say you’re at a trade show or some other industry event. You can even process payments when you’re out in the field and not in your store. This adds a level of convenience that’s very appealing to most business owners.

An added plus is that the software or apps used on these devices is typically easy to upgrade. This can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

There’s no denying that tablets/mobile can be a major asset to today’s retail companies. You could even argue that they have revolutionized the way that brick-and-mortar retailers do business and have created possibilities that simply weren’t there a decade ago. They can help with inventory, simplify workflow for your employees, improve the customer experience and enhance the checkout process.

The amazing thing is that this type of technology isn’t expensive. On the contrary, it’s quite affordable. In many cases, you can fully equip your retail store with a handful of tablets for under $1,000. So if implementing this type of technology is something you’ve been considering, now is a great time to make it a reality.