Until recently, most mobile retail implementations have been focused on supply chain automation, including back-door receiving and inventory management. These devices primarily performed a single function, such as barcode scanning, were bulky and didn't necessarily withstand use in harsh retail environments.
The latest wireless devices operate on flexible platforms and have multifunction capabilities, including data collection, support for enterprise applications, 2D imaging and optional Bluetooth connectivity. A single device that can combine the functions of many can help reduce costs for the extra hardware, software and training needed for multiple single-function units.
Multi-Function Data Collection
Intermec's CN2 mobile data collection computer offers an ergonomic design that allows single-handed operation almost anywhere data collection is required. The device delivers durability necessary for data collection in a range of in-store retail operations, including price verification, shelf pricing, receiving and cycle-counting. It also enables size-sensitive, light-industrial operations, including receiving, putaway and picking, shipping and inventory management. With an Intel XScale processor and Microsoft CE .NET operating system, the device offers real-time data collection with full-shift power management functionality. It includes a Cisco Certified Extension v1-compatible and Wi-Fi-certified 802.11b radio and can be upgraded with a wireless local area network (WLAN) radio.
The IT4620 cordless 2D imager by Hand Held Products enables retailers to perform 2D and PDF reading, as well as reading linear, matrix, postal, OCR and other specialty codes. The imager features Bluetooth Class II v1.2 technology, providing 10 meters of read range and utilizes adaptive frequency hopping for improved performance in existing RF environments. Its power is provided by a lithiumion battery capable of delivering up to 25,000 reads between charges. Powered by Adaptus Imaging Technology, the device also comes equipped with digital imaging capabilities allowing retailers to take pictures and capture signatures.
Epson's Mobilink wireless printer offers receipt or label printing, with either 802.11b or Bluetooth options. Current Epson TM-T88 printer series applications are compatible with the mobile unit which features a 10-hour battery life. The compact device offers a rugged design tested to a four-foot drop to ensure reliability. It also offers high-speed thermal receipt and continuous stock label printing. The printer features an autocutter and drop-in paper loading and prints widths up to 54mm on 58mm or 60mm paper.
Symbol's MC50 PDA-style computer enables operation of enterprise-level applications. The mobile computer features advanced data capture options, flexible voice and data communication and WLAN synchronization. The device delivers support for e-mail, phone, scheduling/calendar, signature capture, CRM, sales force automation and other enterprise applications.
Its Microsoft Windows-based platform offers compatibility with Microsoft, Oracle, Siebel, SAP and IBM CRM software. Adding mobility management software allows retailers to deploy and manage thousands of MC50 devices with visibility and control over all the mobile computers, wireless networks and applications from a Web-based interface.
The U-Scan Shopper by Fujitsu features a wireless, cart-mounted computer that provides shoppers with store information and "scan-as-you-shop" capabilities, with software applications based on Microsoft Windows CE .NET.
The display unit operates on an Intel XScale 400MHz processor with 64MB to 128MB of SDRAM. The 6.5 inch VGA color display features a CCFL backlight with software controls and temperature-based contrast compensation. The device features infrared tracking and advertising triggers with shelf-mounted, battery powered infrared transmitters for up to 12 months of life and programmable ID. The device works with Cisco Model 1100 or 1200 access points with the ability to support 802.11b or 802.11g RF.