The TRG 2019 Technology Year in Review
The TRG Team Has Accomplished Quite a Bit Throughout 2019
This past year has been a significant one for TRG. We’ve launched a number of new services, products, and solutions, and we’ve shared a wealth of knowledge on topics ranging from warehouse optimization to payment technology. It’s been a banner year, and we’re proud of all that we’ve accomplished. For this technology year in review, we’d like to touch on some of the topics that you — our customers, partners, and contacts — have enjoyed the most.
Most of what we’ve covered or announced this past year can be grouped into three categories: retail payment technology, mobility-as-a-service, and warehouse optimization. As industries beyond retail develop their own IoT strategies and solutions, the lines between these categories will — and in many cases already has — blurred as data from backend systems like warehouse scanners informs front-end users. It’s amazing what has been accomplished thus far, and we can’t wait to share more about what’s coming soon.
We hope you’ve enjoyed all of the industry insights, thought leadership, announcements, and recommendations we’ve made over 2019, and we look forward to sharing more with you as we round the corner into 2020. Be sure to follow our blog and news closely — we have a lot more to share and announce in the coming months.
Technology Year in Review: Advancing Retail Payment Technology
It’s no secret that consumer payment preferences are changing. While cash isn’t going away any time soon, new technologies are quickly being implemented in retail stores and other locations to increase competitiveness as well as efficiency and productivity. Optimization is the key, but not just in terms of technology. With new solutions, companies are optimizing the entire consumer experience — and how their organization pulls in revenue.
Automatic checkout is an example of one such solution. Self-scanning and RFID product tags allow customers to take care of their own checkout process — giving the customer full autonomy over their in-store experience. Additionally, pickup lockers provide a full omnichannel experience for those that prefer it: the customer buys online and picks their order up in-store.
Bluetooth low energy (BLE) and near field communication (NFC) are also being used to provide consumers with payment options. RFID wristbands worn at events allow purchases with preloaded cash amounts, while NFC and BLE beacons enable payment using a mobile device. This is just the beginning, however, with other organizations exploring the use of biometric payments, voice-driven purchases, and more.
On the retail side, mobility solutions are helping to improve customer satisfaction. For example, point-of-sale systems are becoming far more than just payment processors alone. Employees are using POS systems for everything from clocking in and tracking sales to scanning barcodes and searching through inventory. Advanced POS strategies are utilizing customized coupons, retargeting campaigns, and multiple forms of payment — particularly those using key injection for enhanced security measures. By using a strong POS system, retailers create a data-rich digital hub for all factors of sales interactions.
But POS, mobile payments, scanning, and the many other mobility solutions retailers and other organizations use are (and should be) part of an even greater omnichannel strategy. With a range of consumer buying habits and preferences, organizations must be prepared to cater to them broadly — yet in a strategic way. This brings all consumer data together in order to understand how to best market to them, provide exceptional shopping experiences, and ultimately know the best way forward for the business.
Technology Year in Review: Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS)
Next up in our technology year in review is a revolutionary new in-house service that we launched in January 2019. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is a new offering that puts the beneficial “as-a-service” philosophy to use for enterprise mobility needs.
Whereas companies previously had to manage their mobility program both tactically (device type, device health, repair and support needs, etc.) and strategically (deployment, utilization, analytics, etc.), often at great expense, MaaS combines hardware, services, and analytics into one simple, predictable monthly payment. Three levels are available depending on the services needed, but all include real-time reporting and analytics via ServiceHub — our online portal.
The benefits of MaaS extend far beyond more immediate hardware needs, however. If you were to manage your own hardware program, IT and other departments would need to be involved, particularly in deployment and support initiatives. Depending on your IT team size and their other priorities, this not only creates bottlenecks but also results in cost challenges for your organization. This is because these teams aren’t focused on more important tasks around revenue generation, launching new tools and features, and more. They’re stuck handling the numerous requests for support that can come with a mobility program.
With MaaS, these costs are no longer a problem. This is because all support, repair, and analytics are handled for you. Our team takes on the responsibility of researching solutions, deploying devices, and providing all of the support needed to keep your enterprise mobility program functioning properly.
Technology Year in Review: Managing Equipment Lifecycles
Every piece of hardware ages and gets worn down. It’s just part of the device lifecycle. Additionally, device failure rates need to be accounted for. But regardless of what caused a device to go down, you’ll have to make a choice: do you repair the hardware, or do you replace it entirely? This isn’t a straightforward decision. Often, organizations can’t afford to outright replace some or all of the devices in their hardware program. It’s always worth a deeper look to understand whether something else is at work.
For example, if the failure rate on your devices is high, perhaps it’s a quality issue with the device manufacturer. Or, perhaps your employees aren’t treating the equipment properly. If it’s a software issue, a simple upgrade might be all that is needed, but if the issue involves your network or other applications, an upgrade may not suffice and replacement may be necessary.
When it comes to replacement, cost isn’t the only consideration, though it is a significant one. Once you’ve decided whether to lease new hardware, buy it, or use a solution like MaaS, you also need to ensure employee adoption will succeed. Significant changes are often met with resistance, and it will take time for your team to get up and running with the new hardware. A soft rollout or pilot period can help weed out any issues.
Work with a reputable provider for your enterprise hardware — one that provides post-purchase support and repair depot support. Warranties should be carefully inspected, and they should be able to work with you on a deployment plan that makes sense for your business. But what about the old hardware? Don’t just pitch it — there are a number of options available to you. From recycling to reselling, your old hardware can still be put to meaningful use.
Technology Year in Review: Warehouse Optimization and Automation
Warehouse optimization has been a subject for years, as has the technology warehouse managers use to make improvements. The rise of the smart warehouse that uses robotics, RFID, and numerous other automation technologies in conjunction with warehouse management systems is an ongoing trend as companies streamline their operations and maximize revenue.
RFID is a great example. Distribution centers are making use of RFID for quicker scanning of items as well as to gain an extra level of quality assurance when using RFID portals as trucks are loaded. Automated lockers, along with device management software, can help make sure devices are working and are where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there.
Another consideration is the sheer inefficiency of picking, which represents anywhere from 50 to 65 percent of labor in a distribution center. To solve this, companies are utilizing robots (and have been for some time), but many warehouses have yet to incorporate them into their toolbox. Robots automate manual processes, cutting the time needed to find items while increasing safety for workers. Furthermore, they reduce human errors, consolidate multiple tasks into a single tool, and store data that helps keep track of mission-critical information.
Beyond robotics and RFID, another area that warehouse managers and business leaders are paying attention to is the wireless connectivity in their facilities. Often, racks and other factors can lead to a breakdown in connectivity, causing communication breakdowns, data loss, and ultimately productivity loss. To solve this, a site survey can help determine the effectiveness of a wireless network. The result is a heat map of wireless connectivity that pinpoints weak spots, holes, and interferences. The provider can also work with you to solve these problems, but make sure to use these assessments frequently if new equipment or racking comes into play.
The New Year is Here — Are You Ready?
To all of our clients and partners, thank you for your support this year. It has been a privilege working with you on your technology needs. If any of the topics covered here are pain points for your organization, TRG is here to help. Let us know how we can help you achieve your enterprise hardware and service goals in 2020.