Point-of-sale (or POS) software is often fairly generic, supporting a process that is the same across many different types of stores. But there are notable exceptions. Apple’s retail stores introduced an innovative new approach to point-of-sale, with employees checking customers out right from their phones or tablets. This transformative shift shapes everything from the layout of an Apple Store to the fundamentals of the customer experience. And it’s supported by a creative approach to the software that drives the stores’ process.
Today, there is tremendous opportunity for businesses across industries to take a similarly disruptive approach to their processes. In a retail setting, this will mean finding new ways to connect to customers in the physical world — perhaps facilitating more direct payments through a phone. New approaches to business are often driven and supported by fine-grained insights about your processes, and the iterative, evolutionary nature of custom apps can do more than keep your software aligned with your needs — it can act as an engine for innovation.
If you’re a transportation company, you may send drivers all across the country shipping goods to your clients. In this business, even the best drivers will get into accidents from time to time. In order to manage questions of liability, it’s essential for your business to capture the best possible information on the scene of these accidents. What’s more, you need to be able to store and access this data in a systematic, reliable way.
This is a problem of distributed data and processes in the physical world. So it’s a great match for a custom field solution app — in this case, you might create a specialized application for accident reporting. Your drivers could immediately fill out the information you need, capture, send, and archive photos from the scene, allowing your company to respond immediately.
Today, more and more companies are exploring custom field service software development – in part because it is among the most specialized software an organization uses.
Consider point-of-sale (or POS) software for some useful contrast. POS software is fairly generic, because it supports a typically generic process: a customer has a stack of items, an employee scans the items, then the customer provides a payment method and walks out of the store. This process is the same at most retail operations, so capturing the right information — the products purchased and the payment data — is straightforward.
Most companies that distribute products in the physical world need some sort of software solution to manage their business processes. Ideally, this solution should be more efficient than a centralized data repository with a handful of terminals — yet this is what many businesses are still using. (more…)
Your average software developer has it easy, in some respects. When most of your work takes place in virtual space, your software doesn’t have to deal with the physical world very much.
But a department store is a different story. Every day, it needs software to coordinate an intricate dance of products, customers, employees, transportation, promotions, shipping, and more. Making matters even more complicated, a retail chain has to accomplish all of this while being geographically distributed, often across a great distance.
The same challenges face most businesses dealing in a widespread physical marketplace: from manufacturers and shippers to farmers and mid-sized retailers. Often, they have to manage physical logistics while facing a rise in pressure from online competitors. (more…)