Key Considerations for Smart Data Capture in Retail Operations

Chapter 3

Here are some of the important considerations we’ve learned from our experience of supporting clients with their operational transformations.

  1. Build cross-functional understanding of the business benefits
  2. Don’t compromise on scanning performance and user experience
  3. Establish a device strategy for your mobile scanning transformation

1. Build cross-functional understanding of the business benefits

Identify your strategic business goals:

Innovate people strategies

Keeping up with digital trends is vital to attract and motivate employees and build customer loyalty.

HR-led initiatives around staff retention and workforce mobilization are supported when employees are empowered with digital tools that speed up and simplify everyday tasks.

With more time gained through greater efficiencies, employees enjoy greater job satisfaction and are able to engage more quickly and effectively with customers. Immediate access to real-time information about products, on a familiar smartphone, also gives employees greater confidence and satisfaction in answering customer enquiries on-the-spot. A key factor in a post-pandemic world where retailers are finding it hard to encourage consumers to return to stores in the face of friction-free e-commerce.

46% of retailers rate improved employee morale as one of the top benefits of mobile technology.

Retail TouchPoints Store Operations Survey, 2020

Speed up digital transformation

Deployment of smart data capture technology, as part of a digital transformation program, supports IT-led objectives, such as rationalization of legacy hardware and infrastructure.

By replacing costly dedicated scanners with smart mobile devices and scanning-enabled mobile apps, employees need just one device to complete multiple tasks. And rolling out new services and innovating workflows  is significantly faster by leveraging smart devices and mobile applications.

There’s no new infrastructure needed, and you can create a more modern, agile and efficient workplace where workers share information in real-time from anywhere – in stores, in the back-of-house or in the supply chain.

Create cost-savings

Introducing smart devices powered by smart data capture also supports finance-led objectives to reduce costs. Time savings and productivity gains from automating repetitive operational tasks will result in significant cost reduction. And the TCO (total cost of ownership) of software-smart device scanning is typically one-third that of traditional hardware scanners.

2. Don’t compromise on scanning performance and user experience

Performance is the prime consideration for any data capture or scanning solution. If scanning performance is less than 100%, or employees struggle to use the app, the efficiency improvements and productivity gains will not materialize. Time and resources will be wasted dealing with mis-scans or failed scans and the associated frustration. The user experience must be intuitive, easy and responsive, and work first time, every time, even in bad light, with damaged labels or unusual barcodes.

3. Establish a device strategy for your mobile scanning transformation

Smart devices enable a level of flexibility and scalability that retailers can take advantage of. For example, it might be beneficial to purchase and own the mobile devices used by employees, or it could be better to enable employees to use their own devices. A hybrid strategy is a further option worth considering.

Your business goals will influence the right device strategy and whether your main objective is to:

  • Reduce the cost of hardware
  • Replace old hardware that is not fit-for-purpose
  • Enable digital transformation and omnichannel operations
  • Enable more staff with smart data capture technology
  • Improve ways of working
  • Improve employee satisfaction

Take an in-depth look at the different device strategies below:

Corporate-Owned, Business Enabled (COBE)

Description: Employees use a device provided by the business for scanning and other workflows. It is returned at the end of each shift.

Benefits: Consistent user experience for employees; reliable performance as devices are restricted to approved models; simple to enforce management, usage and security policies; economies of scale procuring the device fleet; device management, updates and security are seamlessly handled by enterprise MDM tools.

Considerations: Employees can’t use their preferred, familiar device; no sense of ownership can impact user satisfaction, adoption rates, and increase levels of device breakages or losses; increased cost of IT support including maintaining and refreshing the device estate.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Description: Employees use their personal device to download and run corporate apps and data capture software.

Benefits: Convenience, choice and familiarity for employees; rapid onboarding of temporary workers at peak times; supports the gig economy trend; lower hardware and service costs.

Considerations: Might not appeal to all employees; software is needed to support a large number of different makes and models; clear policy and enforcement guidelines are needed around device types, usage and security.

Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) – Hybrid Strategy

Description: Employees select a device from a pre-approved list and use it to run corporate apps and scanning software. Staff can choose to own the device themselves or use it as a corporate-owned one

Benefits: Employees are empowered with a choice of device so satisfaction and adoption is likely to be greater; enterprises retain control of the user experience; IT only needs to support selected device types; hardware costs are reduced.

Considerations: Limited device choices won’t appeal to all; deployment may be slower than BYOD; potential impact on employee satisfaction due to the lack of personal usage; mixed ownership model requires clear usage, management and support policies.

Corporate-Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE) – Hybrid Strategy

Description: Employees select and use a business-owned device from a pre-approved list for running corporate apps and scanning software. Personal use is also enabled, e.g. with a dual-sim.

Benefits: Personal use motivates employees to take better care of devices and increases satisfaction; enterprises retain control of makes, models, performance, updates and security; device choice can be updated for new applications and use cases; personal use (often in exchange for a token contribution) supports HR employer brand building initiatives.

Considerations: Employee preference can be costly, if everybody selects a premium model; price and functionality must be balanced with user and performance needs; clear policy on usage must be communicated and enforced; some companies offer the option of owning the device after a period of time.