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Success Story

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Mobile access to the store system drives
operational efficiency and productivity

Japan-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 shop, significantly improving operational efficiency and productivity

CUSTOMER PROFILE

Trial Company is a retail chain with over 180 discount superstores across Japan and Korea, offering everyday merchandise at low prices, 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 is headquartered in Fukuoka, Japan and had a $3.2 billion turnover in 2013.

CHALLENGE

Trial is a rapidly growing company, and with an increasing number of stores to manage, it is important that employees have access to tools that allow them 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 with 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."

SOLUTION

After evaluating the market, Trial decided to go with Bluebird's BP30, a rugged Android-based mobile computer. The BP30 combines a sleek, lightweight design with durability and high performance. It is protected from drops of up to 1.8 meters as well as water and dust.

 

The imager quickly scans barcodes, including two-dimensional barcodes and QR codes, and the device is also equipped with front rear cameras. The large 5-inch display improves readability, and the battery easily lasts the entire work shift even when the camera and scanner are used heavily.

 

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 cellular network.

 

The BP30 provides access to the PACER store system from anywhere in the shop. 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 inquiries can be made quickly 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 their 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

the completion of tasks and access sales reports in real-time.

BENEFITS

The BP30 empowers employees to do their jobs more effectively, increasing productivity and operational efficiency. It also reduces spending on labor, 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