Omni-channel takes over from pure-play retail
2017 looks to be the year where omni-channel retail takes the crown from e-commerce as the poster child of retail models for the future. Brick-and-mortar are facing massive pressure due to the explosive popularity of e-commerce, and more recently, the click-and-collect retail business model. On the other hand, almost counter-intuitively, online retailers are opening physical store fronts. A great example of this would be the Amazon Go concept store, which allows customers to enter through the use of an app, choose their products, and walk out without needing to queue for a checkout counter.
A recent survey revealed that nearly 78% of surveyed retail executives indicated that their companies place emphasis on innovative technologies and processes to improve customer experiences and increase margins. RFID is one technology underpinning omni-channel retail, enabling retailers to check in real-time where products are in warehouses as well as stock levels. Locationing services are also quickly gaining popularity and being incorporated into innovative offline stores; the technology delivers actionable insights to boost customer engagement, with services such as location-based coupons, real-time shopping maps, location-based assistance, loyalty programmes and more.
OS choice will matter for enterprise-grade mobile devices
While consumer-grade devices may appear to be cost-savers upfront, using them in enterprise environments actually entail a higher total cost of ownership (TCO). A study from VDC Research estimates that the average annual TCO of a ruggedized mobile computer is 44% lower than the average annual TCO of a non-rugged equivalent. Over the course of five years, hardware cost will account for only 10% of TCO, while operational costs - such as product failures causing productivity losses and opportunity losses, as well as the need for IT support and repairs - comprise the rest.
As companies move towards the adoption of enterprise-grade devices, they also need to make a choice on the mobile operating system (OS) upon which to develop applications. While embedded versions of Microsoft Windows have traditionally been used, the company is ending support by 2020 for Windows CE and Windows Embedded Handheld (WEH) 6.5, upon which most current enterprise-grade devices are running. This situation means that companies urgently need to choose a new OS to deploy across all their devices; the options include Android, Microsoft Windows Enabled Handheld 8.1, Apple's iOS, and HTML, each with their advantages and disadvantages. At Zebra, we've already observed that Android is enjoying an uptick in adoption, having recently shipped our millionth Android-based enterprise-grade device.
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