The Crunch: Retail hardware requires a special combination of durability and versatility, especially when it comes to mobile devices. Responding to the unique needs of retailers, HP continues to create innovative, versatile devices that empower employees while remaining tough enough to withstand rugged retail environments. Stores that arm their associates with mobile devices are leveling the playing field and improving customer engagement in a world where consumers have researched products online before stepping foot in brick-and-mortar locations and even use their phones directly in the aisle. With HP devices, retail associates and managers have instant access to product data and greater inventory visibility.
While traditional PCs and smartphones are safe within the confines of a cubicle, these devices can’t withstand daily exposure to the modern retail environment.
“Retail is unique in that they need devices that last a significantly longer period of time,” said Brad Tracy, Global Retail Segment Manager at HP. “Retailers buy products and tend to keep those products and use them for much longer than your standard PCs and other general purpose devices.”
HP has maintained a laser focus on its retail clients’ needs, responding to challenges by developing hardware that’s versatile enough to use in multiple ways and durable enough to survive retail conditions.
“The retail environment is very harsh, and you need to have devices that stand up to this,” Brad said. “Kids of all ages will tug on the cables, and they’ll play on the screens, and devices will get bumped by shopping carts. It can be a very dirty environment. For example, think about the garden center at a Home Depot. Or think about the front of a store in Houston, where it’s extreme temperatures and humidity.”
Retailers recognize the value of using mobile devices to empower their employees to be knowledgeable and deliver better customer experiences. And HP’s latest 3-in-1 devices are helping store associates level the playing field to engage with today’s informed consumer.
“What happens when you don’t arm associates with those empowerment tools is that they find themselves at a disadvantage relative to the consumer, who walks in having already researched the product online and who has a device in their hand,” Brad said. “So they can do additional research or comparison side-by-side with other products and look at prices and availability for other retailers.”
With a push to create memorable in-store experiences, associates are on the front lines every day and act as the faces of retail chains. It’s important they have the tools they need to be consultative and serve the customer, and HP is creating hardware with these needs in mind.
Retail Requires Hardware That Strikes a Balance Between Durability, Functionality & Elegance
Modern retail associates have been spoiled by the attractive offerings from smartphone proliferators like Apple, Samsung, and HTC. They have their own sleek, lightweight mobile devices that have become interwoven with their lives, and this has raised aesthetic standards for in-store hardware.
HP’s mobile devices have been built to not only stand up to harsh retail conditions but also to be versatile and elegant enough that employees are comfortable using them for an entire shift.
“We can’t develop a tank and expect an associate to carry that around with them,” Brad said. “The days are gone when you can have something that functions really well but doesn’t look and feel good.
Brad explained that HP focuses on striking a balance between that ruggedness and the device’s functionality. “It has to be something that people are proud to throw in their pocket and use on a regular basis.”
Flexible Devices Help Associates Improve the In-Store Experience
Perhaps the biggest advantage of HP’s mobile devices is that they save retailers money. Instead of buying multiple devices to handle customer-facing tasks, like assisted selling and point of sale, and back-office operations, like managing inventory, HP develops devices versatile enough to do it all.
Associates who aren’t tethered to one spot in the store can be more helpful to customers, which translates to better in-store experiences.
“To have that shared experience and to really be the expert and be consultative with the consumer is greatly diminished if they don’t have the tools to give them the information they need,” Brad said. “If an associate lacks that knowledge or lacks that ability to address that customer need, then and there, in that moment of truth, they could lose the customer very quickly.”
HP Elite x3 — A Pocket-Size Solution that Converts to a Desktop
HP creates mobile devices to serve many functions, and the HP Elite x3 with three distinct built-in capabilities is a strong example of this.
First, this durable, 6-inch personal device is essentially a world-class smartphone that store associates can use on the floor to assist with sales and management. Because it runs Windows Continuum, the phone can also be docked to a monitor in the back office through a wired or wireless connection and seamlessly shift into a PC experience, complete with a keyboard and mouse. Finally, the device can wirelessly connect with HP’s Elite x3 Lap Dock for a laptop experience if an employee is working remotely.
So instead of employees needing premium smartphones, PCs, and laptops, they can have one versatile smartphone that packs the punch of a computer with a Snapdragon 820 Processor and up to 2TB of data when using an SD card. The x3 also includes a fingerprint reader, iris scanner, and business-grade security to ensure that a company’s files are only accessible to the phone’s user.
“When you plug it into that back office or when you set it next to that Lap Dock, you’re running off of the x3,” Brad said. “You’re not running off the memory, storage, and processing power of the back-office device, which is something IT managers love.”
HP MX12 — A Fixed POS that Becomes a Sale-Assisting Tablet
While the x3’s 6-inch form factor lends itself more to personal use, HP has another durable device that is better for interacting with customers on a sales floor.
The big brother of HP’s popular MX10 device, the HP MX12 is a 12-inch tablet that easily docks and converts into a fixed-position device, connecting with retail peripherals like receipt printers, cash drawers, and payment terminals.
Sales associates, even those working at registers, aren’t tied to one spot in the store as they can be out on the floor using the tablet to assist customers, standing shoulder-to-shoulder to provide information on products and store inventory. The MX12 can be used to scan items and check customers out as a mobile POS device or an associate can take the customer back to the register, where they can dock the device and use it to accept cash and distribute paper receipts.
By using the MX12, an associate can stay with a customer through an entire sale and use one tablet for every step of the process, providing a more pleasing and seamless customer experience.
Client Feedback & Partner Success Drive HP Forward
Durability and versatility are hallmarks of HP’s hardware, and it’s something the company does well. However, HP is more than a hardware company. When retailers approach HP for mobile solutions, Brad said his team takes an advisory approach to ensure each business is using mobility in a way that’s going to drive results and improve the shopping experience.
“Our job is not just saying, ‘Here’s a device,’” Brad said. “Part of our job is to be consultative in that discussion so that our customers recognize the real potential of the devices and don’t just have a device that’s a doorstop for them, but to have something that’s truly meaningful for their business.”
Brad told us what stands out is the versatility with which different companies are using HP’s mobile devices.
“Nothing excites us more than hearing our customers tell the stories of their success,” Brad said. “It’s one thing to excite us because we got an order, but when we hear how our hardware has transformed their business and they’re willing to share a case study, that speaks volumes about the relationship and that’s so meaningful to us. It feels like we’re really making an impact, and we live for that.”