Retailers are increasingly realising the benefits of mobilising their enterprise technology systems in an effort to optimise their supply chain efficiency and extend business process' to the point of action in the field, thereby significantly reducing supply chain turnaround time and costs. However, they are also looking for solutions that offer mobile e-mail along with messaging, security, device management and applications as part of a strategic mobile implementation.
With mobile and remote systems extending to locations never reached before, new demands are being placed on enterprises to ensure their data is protected against a number of vulnerabilities and retailers are no exception. Demands include small size and portability, which makes devices easier to lose or steal; operation outside of the company firewall, which increases risk due to the unprotected and unsecured environment; viruses and other malicious code, which can find an easy route into the enterprise via unprotected devices; and software and data not authorised by the company, the presence of which increases the overall risk.
With the Required Corporate Data Security Legislative Compliancy Act that came into effect from the end of February 2008 with severe penalties on non-compliancy thereafter, she also highlights the fact that organisations need to ensure their business requirements for legislative compliance for all their corporate data security.
The retail IT environment is changing and, with this, so are IT requirements. Collecting sales information on a nightly poll is no longer enough for retailers. Enabling the realtime enterprise by delivering information wherever and whenever it is needed is critical. With higher speed network connections becoming available to stores, retailers are taking advantage of a new generation of IT solutions to drive business in new areas.
These include better customer services through the provision of CRM data to front-line staff at the point of transaction; personalised marketing information fed to each customer as they browse through the store; customer reward and loyalty programmes that are accessible from anywhere in the store; greater efficiency at the checkout through the utilisation of mobile devices for queue busting; faster access to information from sales transactions so that the impact of promotions and competition can be better assessed and responded to; and better store management, employee training and administrative processes.
In addition, the ability for retailers to access information anywhere at any time is key to ensuring increased competitiveness, productivity, and customer-focus. In this new era of 'service anywhere' and field automation, mobile and wireless systems are fast becoming a key competitive differentiator for retailers that need to react immediately to emerging market opportunities and challenges and improve their supply chain.
In today's business environment, on-site systems must exchange data with other systems within the organisation, whenever updates are needed. With wireless technology and the extension of retail technology to a whole new class of handheld devices, this requirement is now even more far reaching.
Since retailers need to provide the ultimate in service while watching their costs, the benefits of mobile and wireless computing are significant. An increasing number of retailers are starting to seriously look at mobilising their enterprise operations aimed at increasing accuracy of data, improving customer service and retention, operational efficiency and effectiveness, and to ultimately increase their competitive advantage.
* Hyundai deployed a wireless, handheld POS system powered by Sybase SQL Anywhere that eliminates the need for traditional stationary registers.
* Ann Summers, the UK's leading lingerie, personal products and novelty gifts chain has achieved dynamic growth by relying on Sybase's RemoteWare solution to automate a large proportion of store-based tasks.
* With 361 outlets, Kwik Trip is one of the largest independently owned convenience store chains in the US. The company deployed Sybase iAnywhere's Afaria mobile management and security solution to meet VISA compliance.
The lower cost of data, wireless network connectivity and affordable smart mobile devices have made extending business to mobile tools across all industry sectors viable in South Africa. Sybase SA's retail customer portfolio includes Woolworths, Pick 'n Pay, Shoprite Checkers, Clicks, Pep Stores, Home Choice and Lewis Stores.
Kirsten Graham, business development manager, Sybase SA
For more information contact Kirsten Graham, Sybase, +27 (0)21 657 1600.