Mobile Devices - What Distribution Managers Should Know About Windows Mobile?

What distribution managers should know about Windows Mobile?

For businesses with any delivery operations or direct store deliveries (DSD), the news that the Windows Mobile platform will no longer be supported in the coming years could bring uncertainty about the hassle and expense of replacing your company's Windows-based mobile devices. Yet, rather than focus on the challenges of the impending upgrade – why not focus instead on the benefits. Here are four good reasons to embrace the change.

Reason #1: Reduced Costs for Handheld Devices

A typical system for DSD operations includes route accounting software, connected mobile devices paired with mobile printers. In the past, chances are your company spent around $2,000 for each rugged handheld unit you deployed to route drivers. Now, with Windows Mobile soon-to-be-obsolete, the cost of acquiring new replacement devices can be dramatically lower.

As part of the upgrade process, many companies opt for mid-priced consumer smartphones or tablets in ruggedized cases built to protect devices from damage – and these smartphones or tablets are often much lower in cost than Windows-based handhelds. To save even more, companies are also adopting a bring your own device (BYOD) policy, where employees use their personal Android or iOS smartphones on the job.

Another plus when upgrading beyond Windows handhelds is that the new consumer devices are not only lower in cost, but, in many cases, they can seamlessly integrate with mobile printers you're currently using for fleet operations – delivering maximum value on your current investment.

Reason #2: Happier Route Drivers

It's no surprise that some of your drivers will prefer Android phones and others their iPhone mobile devices. The key is making sure your mobile printers also work with both platforms. Also, they should be 100% compatible with iPhone, iPad and Android devices, allowing route drivers or field technicians to print instantly from their mobile without downloading and installing specific drivers.

Look also for printers with dual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity to help overcome the "last mile" connectivity challenges of a mobile workforce. Whether they are operating inside a facility, store, warehouse or vehicle – or moving from one to the other – your workers want secure connectivity. A rugged printer with dual connectivity options to support a wide range of applications from retail and warehouse to outdoor and in-vehicle mobile environments can be a game-changer.

Reason #3: Greater Efficiency

The faster your sales reps can complete customer transactions, the faster they can be on their way to the next delivery. Fast processing is essential, and so is the rapid printing of a wide variety of receipts, invoices, and other documents.

Giving drivers the freedom to print almost anywhere, anytime, is what Les Ailments Matrix Foods Inc. was missing. This fast-growing Ontario, Canada, based dairy distributor invested in mobile technology to overcome the challenges and complexity of running delivery routes, each averaging 15 stops a day.

They selected a leading, road-tested route accounting software system, Solid Route Accounting™, and paired it with two hardware components, an Android phone and mobile printers. Since going live, Matrix Foods has boosted efficiency and productivity for its drivers, helping drive profits as well as vastly improving the customer experience.

Reason #4: Overall satisfaction

At the heart of customer satisfaction is reducing errors and improving communication. As an Atlantic Canada-based distributor discovered, every touchpoint also becomes an opportunity to create a positive experience.

This Atlantic Canada based distributor, invested in Solid Route Accounting™ together with handheld iOS devices and mobile printers for every route driver, to maximize speed and accuracy at every step of distribution, from order submission to picking and delivery.

The mobile printers they deployed gave their drivers the "anywhere, anytime" ability to print a wide variety of documents, including order recaps, final invoices, truck inventories, delivery confirmation and returned goods receipts.

In addition to their drivers' ability to deliver more products faster and with better accuracy, their drivers' satisfaction also increased as they could be more responsive to customer needs.

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