Mobile access to store system drives
operational efficiency and productivity
Japanese-based discount retailer Trial deployed over 2,000 BP30 rugged mobile computers from Bluebird to provide access
to the store system from anywhere in the store, significantly improving operational efficiency and productivity.
Trial Company is a retail chain with over 180 discount supercenters across Japan and Korea, offering everyday merchandise at low cost, including perishable and processed foods, daily goods, apparel, home electronics, and more. The company focuses on innovation and utilizes technology to provide better products at lower prices.
Trial headquartered in Fukuoka Japan, and had a 3.2 billion turnover in 2013.
Trial is a rapidly growing company, and with an increasing number of stores to manage, it is important that employees have access to tools to communicate and collaborate efficiently. One of the company's top priorities is to make PACER, the internally developed store system, available to all employees. In order to make that happen, store employees were provided smartphones, but the rollout was problematic.
"We quickly learned that consumer-grade smartphones are poorly equipped for the retail environment and extensive usage," says Shinji Nishikawa, CIO of Trial. "The smartphones would easily break if dropped and the devices would constantly lose the connection to PACER due to spotty Wi-Fi coverage in the relatively large stores."
After evaluating the market, Trial decided to go with Bluebird's BP30, a rugged Android-based mobile computer. The BP30 combines sleek, lightweight design with durability and high performance. It features a 1.8 meter drop specification and is protected against water and dust.
The imager provides fast scanning of barcodes, including two-dimensional bar codes and QR codes and the device is also equipped with a front and back camera. The large 5 inch display improves readability and the battery easily lasts the entire work shift - even when the camera and scanner are heavily used.
The Linkon™ connectivity manager ensures that the BP30 has stable connectivity to the Wi-Fi network throughout the store, maximizing availability of the store system so that employees can work without interruptions. Users in the field also have the option of connecting via the cellular network.
The BP30 provides access to the PACER store system from anywhere in the store. Key applications include labor scheduling, inventory management, replenishment, markdowns, out-of-stock reporting, price and product searches, internal emails, and ordering.
"PACER in combination with the BP30 puts information at the fingertips of our employees
and makes it possible for us to run a large store operation with fewer employees."
Shinji Nishikawa, CIO, Trial Company
At the beginning of the work shift, store employees log in to PACER by scanning their employee
IDs and a detailed schedule with all assigned tasks is presented on the screen.
Completion of tasks is reported to the backend store system in real-time.
Inventory and price inquires can quickly be done on the BP30 instead of running to the back room
to check a price or to see if an item is in stock. Trial uses automated ordering for most
of its products, but orders can also be placed directly on the BP30.
One of the apps allows store employees to use the BP30 to report out-of-stock items by scanning the shelf label
and taking a picture of the empty shelf. The image and instructions are sent to PACER and the task to replenish is
assigned to a store employee who receives a message on his or her handheld device.
Another app allows store employees to print barcode labels on a mobile printer, which communicates
with the BP30 via Bluetooth. Trial uses this function to mark down unsold perishable food items
at the end of the day to boost sales and reduce shrink. Management can track
completion of tasks and access sales reports in real-time.
The BP30 empowers employees to do their jobs more effectively, increasing productivity and operational efficiency. It reduces labor costs, which is an instrumental part of Trial's low-cost strategy.
"Improved communication has reduced out-of-stocks by 40 percent, contributing to more sales and higher customer satisfaction, continues Nishikawa.
The durable yet stylish, lightweight design of the BP30 has proven to be a perfect fit for Trial, and the employees have quickly adapted to the system. The Android operating system provides an open development platform, which made integration with PACER easier and more cost-efficient.
"Bluebird has been an essential part of the success of this project," adds Nishikawa. "They dedicated a lot of resources to make sure all the components worked perfectly, including resolving the connectivity problems.
"Bluebird dedicated a lot of resources to make sure all the components worked perfectly,
including resolving the connectivity problems we previously had with the Wi-Fi networks in the stores."
Shinji Nishikawa, CIO, Trial Company