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Retail is among the industries where the changing end-user requirements in enterprise mobility solutions are becoming clearer. VDC Research's most recent end-user study highlights an increase in cost consciousness among retailers. In the fieldwork that we completed in Q2 2011, cost and ease of use came in the first and second respectively among the top 3 shortcomings of the recently deployed mobile computing solutions. The shortcomings associated with both of these requirements appear to be much greater in comparison with other industries.
While the cost sensitive nature of the market has been an ongoing theme for some time now, the advancements in the technology have made mobility more "affordable", both in terms of hardware and software solutions. With the shopping season approaching, retailers would like to reduce their cost structure as much as possible as they would have to equip at least a portion of their seasonal employees with mobility solutions. Since the increase in revenues is the primary driver for retailers to invest in enterprise mobility solutions, seasonality plays an important role for the industry. The concerns associated with the ease of use in mobility solutions, are not only applicable to the current employees but are also very critical for the seasonal staff. VDC believes that minimizing the cost and time required for training on the deployed solutions can be a crucial and key benefit for retailers. The improvements made to the UI functionality and user experience on some of the current and next-generation solutions coming to the market make the learning curve much less steep for new employees.
With the deployment of mobility solutions in retail environments, in-store associates are not only having more time to interact and engage with customers, but they are more empowered with extended mobile POS capabilities and the inventory and returns management applications. The issues that might arise in the integration with existing enterprise applications is concerning for retailers as they prevent the employees from spending more time on the retail shop floor assisting customers. VDC Research believes that the next-generation solution offerings will be more suitable for retailers with thin margins (e.g. big box and office supply retailers) as mobility vendors are beginning to introduce lower cost solutions to the market.