Quick! Grab the mobile computer this Christmas.

December 20, 2021 | by Paul Stubbs (Zebra Product Manager)


As John Lennon sang, “And so this is Christmas, and what have you done”. It’s a great opening line to a song that can really get us to think about the year that has been and where we are going.

We have experienced an interesting two years where our world was turned upside down due to COVID. This experience drove significant change in retail practices as many adapted to a new paradigm of contactless trade. We saw click and collect becoming the norm, an ideal that has been spruiked in the countless discussions about omnichannel retailing over the last decade.

Many retailers, especially the ones of the online variety, were forced to immediately become more productive. And that poses the dilemma as we once again head into another peak retail season around Christmas. How can a retailer become more productive, quickly?

Visibility is the Key 

I believe that productivity is the consequence of good decision making. As with any decision-making process, knowing all the facts prior to making a decision is critical.

In the context of a retail business, knowing when goods will be in stock, how much is in stock and where and what goods customers want is critical data that is needed for workers to be smarter in their decision making. 

As the retail segment evolves into the omnichannel world, the concept of having visibility of all transactions in your business becomes even greater.


How to become more productive now

You’ll probably think I would say that using barcode technology and point of sale solutions should be a must, but I think retailers have moved on from those basics. In the omnichannel world, where retailers have to offer more than just bricks and mortar stores, technology is critical to enable the effective management of the day to day business.

Of course, barcode scanners and POS solutions are mandatory, as are connected backend systems. Cloud computing has made the connectivity challenge much easier but with data flowing from store, to online, online to warehouse and round again, staff are reliant on accessing the data no matter where they are. 

Picture this. A shopper has purchased a pair of shoes online and selected to click and collect the goods from their nearest store. The online shopping portal processes the order and a message sent to the store to pick the goods and have them ready for pickup. The store staff need to manage the process which includes, finding the product on the shelf, processing the stock movement off the shelf and recording the status of the shopper pickup.

Furthermore, once the shopper arrives at the store the staff will need to identify that customers order, give them the correct package and then update the status of the order once completed. The product may have a barcode on it which will help the staff identify and track the movement of the package, but now we have another variable which is having the visibility as to who’s package it is.

Of course, this can be achieved with barcodes and labelling, but the productivity gain comes in the processing of the movements between shelf and customer. Mobile computing is the key. With a mobile computer in hand, the staff can easily track the movement of the product off the shelf, as well as the delivery status with the customer.

The mobile computer has multiple benefits. Firstly, the staff can scan barcodes to identify the product and access systems to track the movement of those orders. They become more accurate as the technology is assisting the to make sure they are picking the correct goods. The store data maintains its integrity so managers know exactly what is in stock and therefore can manage their inventory more efficiently.

Once the customer arrives at the store, staff can utilise their mobile computer to verify the customer, notify other staff of the customers arrival and to bring their goods out to the click and collect area. The mobile computer minimises the number of staff involved in the process, requires less walking around to find the order, as workers are now connected via their mobile computers, and a faster pickup time, keeping customers happy. 

This example of just one aspect of a modern retail practice highlights how important empowering staff with mobile devices has become. I see products such as the Zebra new EC50/55 mobile devices as being the perfect solution for retail workers on the shop floor. The compact form factor means carrying the device all day will not be a hassle, battery life is suitable for all day shifts as well as opening the door for other communication means such as push to talk walkie talkie functionality, but that is a story for another day.

If you haven’t already, it might be time to add a new Zebra EC55 onto your Santa list!



EC50/EC55 Mobile Computer



To learn more about the Zebra Barcode Scanners, please contact us on:

sales@sektor.com.au   |  1300 273 586

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