With Potential to Accelerate “Post PC” Era, Tablets Are Changing Up The Retail Game
May 20, 2011
It is impossible to ignore the explosion of tablet devices these days. Ads for the iPad 2 are everywhere and penetration rates are actually outpacing the early days of the iPod. With a roster of competitive devices now hitting the market, retailers are now taking a hard look at how they can employ tablet devices within the store environment.
Although manufacturers have tried a variety of form factors over the years, it’s the reduced cost of a new generation of consumer tablets, along with new mobile operating systems and the explosion of 3G networks, that seems to be ushering in rapid adoption and potential business applications.
Given all the inquiries we’ve been receiving lately about ways to integrate tablet technology with existing networks, there’s no doubt that this new wave is going to be a real game changer within the retail/hospitality space. With the potential to accelerate a “Post PC” era where we will no longer need to be fixed to a desk with a computer, the latest tablet technology offers too many possibilities for it not to be adopted in the industry.
From an operational standpoint, businesses are embracing tablet mobility to get managers out of the office and onto the floor, bring POS functionalities into the lines and revolutionize traditional applications, like planogramming. From a consumer standpoint, they are receiving a more enhanced and relevant way to shop. Eventually, as the tablet market catches up with the ability to integrate peripherals, such as drawers, printers, scanners and RFID, we expect to see a migration toward check-out terminals via sleds and blue tooth technology.
While Apple’s iPad has garnered most of the attention as the leader in adoption and is very intriguing from a “consumer” connection standpoint, I’m not 100% convinced that it will win out as the optimal tablet within the retail space. There were more than 50 tablet products introduced at CES 2010, so certainly there is no shortage of competitors. Traditional retail providers like HP, Dell and Motorola are preparing their launch into the market with products that are equally as innovative and powerful, but built specifically for retail environments. In my opinion, these retail-specific tablets are likely to get more mileage throughout the industry.
So, what are some considerations to take into account before making an investment in tablet technology? Well, for one, make sure you look for devices with good integrated MSR and RFID readers (if necessary) and blue tooth connectivity when/where needed to peripherals, such as printers and drawers. Based on your particular retail environment, durability is another important consideration so you might want to go a more ruggedized route. Overall, in most of the cases that we see, the cheaper the device, the bigger the concern, so take heed.
It’s also important to note that the price point has been rising a bit with an average of 600-900/unit, which means that we’ll need to take a wait-and-see approach to determine overall TCO once sleds and other necessary peripherals are added to these solutions.
Have any tablet recommendations to share? Join us online in our LinkedIn group, Retail tekSPERTS and tell us about them! We’re always online, so if you’d rather just stay up-to-date on the latest developments in retail/hospitality technology, you can always follow us on Twitter @tekservePOS or connect with us on Facebook.
John Pruban, President, tekservePOS