4 Surprising Ways the Internet of Things (IoT) Can Boost Your Business

These days, it seems like every tech expert is talking about the Internet of Things (IoT). But even as this buzzword takes over tech conferences and blogs, many retailers are a bit fuzzy on the concept of what IoT actually means and how it’s going to affect the way they do business.

If you’ve taken time to do a little of your own digging on the IoT, you’ve probably figured out the basic idea. In the very near future, it won’t just be computers and smartphones that are wirelessly connected. Within the next few years, data from our appliances, cars, houses and retail POS systems will all be flying back and forth on a worldwide global network.

But if you’ve been thinking of the IoT as something only big companies will profit from, then think again. You might be surprised to learn that IoT technologies can help boost your sales and raise your bottom line — right now, today — for a smaller investment than you might imagine. Here are four ways the IoT can work for your business.

Make personalized offers on the spot

Many of the latest generation of smartphones come with near field communication (NFC) chips, which let them share data, such as payment information, with nearby NFC-enabled devices with a simple swipe or tap. And just about every phone now comes with Bluetooth connectivity, which enables it to be identified by Bluetooth-enabled devices in the area.

A growing number of retail stores are already taking advantage of IoT technologies like these to deliver individualized offers and reminders to customers, right in the store. Digital signs and electronic shelf labels — which are now becoming affordable even for small stores — can make personalized suggestions based on a customer’s purchase history or rewards program membership.

Eliminate supply chain inefficiencies

The technology behind radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags has existed for more a decade, but its high costs made retailers slow to adopt it. Today, though, the costs of RFID have plummeted, and many companies now package their retail products with RFID tags, so they can easily track and count boxes with automated scanners.

What you might not know, though, is that IoT-enabled systems can use RFID data to alert your managers when a shipment is about to arrive — or when a product needs to be reordered or when it’s overstocked. This kind of proactive supply chain management can significantly raise your inventory accuracy and cut down on labor inefficiencies, too.

Cut down on loss and shrink

Another major benefit of RFID tracking is the ability to track shipments of time-sensitive products, like fresh meats or frozen foods. As you probably already know, many retailers use this kind of digital tracking to make sure their suppliers and 3PL (third-party logistics) providers deliver perishable shipments before they become unusable.

You might not have heard, though, that IoT-enabled applications can now directly alert your managers when an item is about to spoil or when a shipment has been damaged in transit, so they can take action right away.

Break up lines and streamline sales

You’ve probably seen workers at some restaurants using mobile POS (mPOS) systems to take orders and process payments right at the table. Some businesses even integrate these systems with their customer databases, to help staff members recognize customers and greet them by name.

But IoT-enabled POS systems can do much more than just make personalized offers. When interconnected across an entire store or restaurant, they can alert cashiers to open a new register or checkout lane. They can recognize customers who ordered via a smartphone app and alert your staff to bring them their purchases. These kinds of “line busting” can streamline traffic through your store and create happier customers who are eager to buy more.

Efficiencies, personalized experiences, and advanced hardware are several ways retailers and restaurants are transforming their operations to realize new profit opportunities. Leveraging data is also key in this pivotal stage. If you liked this article, read on by downloading “Using Better Data to Drive an Increased Share of Wallet”. Learn about the components of a data driven Point of Sale system, optimization techniques, and use the Big Data checklist provided in this whitepaper to help future-proof your point of sale operations for future growth and sustainability.

Three Effective Ways to Reduce Your Customers’ Wait Times

As you already know, the expectations of today’s restaurant customers are higher than ever. Technology has streamlined many aspects of their lives, so from the moment they walk into your restaurant, they expect ordering at your POS will work as seamlessly as possible — and they don’t want to wait in line any longer than necessary. If you can reduce your customers’ wait times, not only will you increase customer satisfaction but you’ll also increase efficiency, which translates to better financial performance for your restaurant.

So, what’s the most effective way to cut down on your wait times, without sacrificing your staff’s accuracy and quality of service? The latest mobile POS (mPOS) systems will help reduce customers’ wait times, in a surprising variety of ways. Here are a few examples.

Make self-service kiosks an option

Over the past few years, providers of mPOS technology have made a lot of headway in the area of making customers’ wait time shorter, or even eliminating it altogether. The idea behind line busting is to take orders in addition to and outside of the fixed cash wrap. It lets you make transactions where the customer is, increases order accuracy, and reduces the risk of walk outs.

For example, enabling customers to order before they reach the counter allows your cooks to start orders before customers reach the cash register. If your customers would be happy to order via a touch-screen display, consider installing one right inside the front door. An alternative is to equip staff members with mPOS devices and have them take orders from customers already in line — so those customers can skip the wait and go straight to their tables or pick-up line.

Let customers order on mobile (BYOD)

An increasing number of restaurants are enabling customers to order via a mobile app on their own device, not just to place orders for delivery but even to order within the restaurant. At first glance, this approach may not seem as organized as traditional counter lines or table service, but mobile ordering saves your wait staff time. They don’t have to run back and forth between tables and the register as much, freeing up time for them to provide better service and to serve more customers.

Add an mPOS system to your drive-through lane

Using kiosks and mobile ordering systems inside the restaurant are not the only effective approaches to line-busting. Drive-through mPOS systems are also growing in popularity because they allow customers to input their own orders on a touch-screen menu in the drive-through lane. This approach speeds up the drive-through ordering process and avoids customer frustrations with placing orders through an intercom system.

Read on about more ways to reduce wait times for your customers as well as getting started with mobile point of sale in “Line Busting: A Guide for Consumer Industries”. This guide covers the current state of mobile transaction tech, and how to enable mobile point of sale, as well as tips on how to evaluate mobile point of sale systems to use in line busting applications.

Centralized or Distributed Inkjet and Laser? Your Next Business Printer Buy May Surprise You

inkjet or laser

Although some business tasks are moving toward digital, your business still relies on hard copies for a wide range of day-to-day tasks. Businesses still print, and it’s no wonder you’re on the lookout for ways to manage the costs of printing and to make your printer workflow more efficient.

You’ve probably heard the conventional wisdom that the best printer for business is a black-and-white laser printer. These printers can be useful, but your best overall option for a reliable, affordable printer may actually turn out to be a color inkjet.

Here are several of the primary factors to consider for your next printer purchase.

The downsides of centralization

When thinking about the cost of a printer, it helps to consider not just the cost of the machine itself but also the costs of overages, toner/ink, maintenance, and lost profit due to downtime. Companies could actually end up paying more for printers that appear less expensive on paper but turn out to have higher total costs of ownership due to consumable costs, buying features they don’t need, and lost time walking back and forth to the centralized printer (and talking to people along the way).

For example, a single centralized printer can quickly build up a queue of documents waiting to be printed. This means employees have to spend time away from their desks, standing in line. Or everyone may have to wait for a broken shared printer to be serviced. And if someone forgets to pick up a sensitive document, it sits out in the open, for everyone to see.

Black-and-white or color?

Monochrome printing is useful in many cases. But what if you had the ability to use more color in the office? Studies have found that monochrome presentations can be harder to read, less comprehensible, and more difficult to remember than color presentations. While black-and-white works well for many uses, many departments such as marketing, sales, advertising, could benefit from introducing more color to satisfy their need to make a strong impression – either for internal or external uses or presentations.

Speed and affordability

Inkjet printing tends to be associated with homes and small offices – but this assumption is shifting. Business color inkjet printers are now just as fast as laser printers, and this latest generation of inkjet printers is more affordable and reliable. Inkjets are on the rise in businesses, with shipments expected to be near 60% by the year 2020 in workgroup color printers and MFP’s.*

Size

A business inkjet printer typically has a smaller footprint than an MFD so they fit more easily into modern office environments. That means you’ll be able to place small color inkjets at convenient locations around your office, so workflow will never get hung up by a long printing queue. Inkjets also work on existing networks and with managed print services. Most include, just like laser printers, a full suite of IT admin tools will ensure your drivers stay up to date and your ink gets reordered automatically whenever it runs low.

Summing it Up

Of course, your workforce comes first, and you should always consider which color printing combinations are most suitable. Consider your hardware options, users and dynamics carefully in your next printer purchase. A balanced deployment of color printing can mitigate productivity loss and have a notable impact on your internal and outward facing communications, with a great deal of visibility and control.

Read on about optimizing your printer network and options for augmenting your centralized color multifunction devices by downloading “Manage the Business, Not The Printer” here. This paper takes a fresh look at the hidden costs of and alternatives to distributed color printing in the office, as well as tips to reduce impact and productivity loss when it comes to printing throughout your organization.

*Sources: Based on extrapolation from IDC U.S. Production Page Volume Forecast, 2016-2020 | IDC Worldwide Single Function Printer Forecast, 2016-2020 and IDC WorldWide MultiFunction Peripheral Forecast, 2016-2020 | IDC North American Large Format Printer Market Shares, 2015

 

4 Tips on Selecting the Best Classroom Display Size

If you’re in the market for a new display for your presentation space, you’ve probably considered projectors and flat-panel displays. You might have already taken a look at some projectors for teaching and concluded that a simple flat-panel display would be simpler.

While a flat panel, even as big as 70” may seem like a large enough display for most classrooms, recent research indicates visibility is compromised with “smaller” displays – even those as big as 70”. In fact, the research indicates that 58% of classroom students cannot read content on a 70” display.

Here are four areas to look at when selecting the right display size for any classroom:

  1. Potential Size of the DisplayEnsuring every student can see from his/her seat is critical. A person’s ability to see is called “visual acuity,” and it’s measured using the well-recognized Snellen Eye Chart, which is based on the simple fact that something twice as far away needs to be twice as big for equivalent visibility and to achieve 20/20 vision.
  2. Optimizing VisibilityBased on the 4/6/8 Rule, a 70″ display, in a square classroom, can be seen clearly by as few as 20% of the students, leaving the other students with an inferior experience. Therefore, 40% of students will be completely outside the 8x absolute maximum viewing area, affecting their ability to see and comprehend information.
  3. The 4/6/8 RuleThe 4/6/8 Rule is a common standard for determining screen size. This rule states that, depending on the type of content being presented, there is a maximum distance the viewers can be from the display in order to see it clearly.
  4. Applying the 4/6/8 RuleIt’s typically recommended to use the “6x or smaller” multiplier to handle the variety of content shown and shared in a classroom setting.

Imaging technology has dramatically affected the experience of teaching and classroom dynamics. From a time when the primary ways to relay information were verbal, via a blackboard or overhead projector, to the current array of computers, tablets, flat screens and projectors – deciding what to select can be complicated. However the big dilemma isn’t which technology to select, but how to support the right visual environments that help staff to teach and help students learn. Engaging your classrooms can be difficult – use display size to your advantage, and carefully consider its overall impact when selecting your next technology solution.

Read on about selecting the most effective classroom display size in “Display Size Matters: Selecting the Right Display Size for Classrooms”. Learn more in this white paper about how to use the 4/6/8 rule, content implications, and choosing the optimal display size for square, wide, and deep classroom styles.

How to Close Your Sale With The Latest Presentation Tools

Imagine you’ve just landed a meeting with a big potential client. A week from now, you’ll have their senior leadership in your conference room, and you’ll have their full attention for one hour. What kind of prep work would you do to make certain you close the deal?

Your presentation would likely include a visual component, but a slide presentation doesn’t leave much room for collaboration. The more you can incorporate the client’s real-time feedback into your pitch, the more likely you’ll be to close on the spot.

Here are two unexpected ways that the latest generation of collaboration technology can make every in-house sales presentation an interactive experience:

Your Customers: Make Your Presentation “Their” Presentation

A purpose-built room for presentations works well for a one-to-many presentation. But what if you empowered your clients to become part of the experience? An interactive presentation solution, combining a whiteboard, a projector, and a suite of powerful collaboration tools can work in many spaces your office has outside of the board room. Newer projection technology can display an interactive presentation experience up to 100” and be installed in any room of your office – with the ability to annotate and integrate your client’s feedback in real time.

When you need to point out a detail, you can circle it, write directly on the wall-sized surface with your electronic pen, and even save changes immediately. It’s like having a fully interactive video screen right at your fingertips — literally. If they’re interested in changing the direction of the presentation, you can just hand them the pen and let them make edits to your diagrams right there, in real time.

What’s more, the flexibility to make real-time changes, right in the middle of a presentation, is rapidly becoming the new industry normal. In many cases, interactive spaces with the right technology can make an impact on your clients not always evident when giving presentations in large, classroom or boardroom style spaces.

And After You Close The Deal…

Those who are in business today are flexible and mobile. Alongside sharing of your information, why not provide the opportunity for them to share with you as well. Also, think of scheduling meetings in your workplace. Are the conference rooms always open or are they booked? Do they have the right equipment? Are they tucked way in the back of your complex?

Huddle rooms are emerging as one way to host modern, comfortable, working meetings of up to six meeting participants, and are often adjacent to lobbies, lounges, and workspaces. They are typically furnished with a table, several chairs, and perhaps some simple shelving. The space can also be reinforced with branding and color themes to leave a lasting impression about the company.

Equipment in the huddle room is primarily set up for collaboration – a whiteboard and display system that can easily tether to the laptops, smartphones and tablets you and your clients bring to the meeting, a telephone, conferencing equipment for remote attendees, a strong broadband connection, and universal connection methods to display information.

Especially in on-going working sessions with your client, this meeting style space is one consideration to foster creativity, information sharing, and non-intimidating interaction. And an exciting place for your staff to use outside of client presentations and working sessions, also.

Learn more about interactive display technology and meeting spaces in “Huddle Rooms and The Changing Nature of Business Meetings”. The paper continues this discussion, explaining demographic shifts in Baby Boomer to Millennial workforce implications, considerations in creating huddle rooms, and how culture and technology go hand-in-hand to accommodate these major shifts.