iPad

10 innovative ways businesses are using the iPad

Brad Hintze highlights 10 ways that companies are streamlining operations and customer engagement with the iPad.
This is a guest post by Brad Hintze, the chief marketing officer for MokiMobility, which is a provider of cloud-based mobile device management platform for single-purpose iOS and Android devices.

The iPad serves as a single-purpose device in a variety of industries. Here are just a few of the ways companies and organizations are beginning to use the iPad to streamline operations and customer engagement.

1: Point-of-sale

Retailers and restaurants large and small have begun swapping out large clunky cash registers for the iPad. From cash drawers to receipt printers to credit card swipes, the iPad offers an efficient solution for processing sales.

2: Digital signage

With the iPad's integrated Wi-Fi and sharp display, many businesses are mounting them on walls and on desks to present their latest messaging and advertising. Whether it displays an agenda or just loops an ad, the iPad offers an inexpensive way to show high-quality content and graphics for a variety of applications.

3: Product displays

Retailers have begun swapping product cards for iPads. For instance, Lebron James' new shoe store, Unknwn, places an iPad next to every shoe it sells, displaying videos, pictures, and the price using an iPad kiosk app.

4: Conference room scheduler

iPads can cut through the hassles of scheduling meetings and reserving conference rooms. Businesses like Disney, ESPN, and Hulu are using apps such as Eventboard to show the schedule for the conference room and hook it directly to Exchange or Google Calendar. Double meeting bookings? Not an issue.

5: Retail sales terminal with credit card swipe

Retailers want to close the sale of every customer who walks into their store, even when the demand exceeds inventory levels. One major shoe retailer has begun using an iPad connected to its online store to take orders from customers and drop-ship those orders directly to customers' homes. As a fully functioning kiosk, these terminals accept payments through a customer's credit card right in the store.

6: Loyalty programs

Loyalty programs have proven to be a great source of repeat business for many establishments, and the iPad is beginning to replace the traditional cards found in the everyday wallet. Using solutions like Favorite Eats, restaurant owners tie additional transaction details to customers, providing the benefits of loyalty rewards without the hassle of yet another physical card.

7: Personal concierge

Major hotels have seen an increase in the use of interactive iPad apps that help hotel guests locate interesting local attractions and five-star restaurants.

8: Restaurant wait lists

Restaurants have traditionally used paper lists to manage crowds of customers waiting for a table. But now, restaurants are replacing those lists with integrated apps like NoshList, which notify guests via SMS when their table is available. With the tap of the screen, front-line hosts locate available tables and tag those tables to hungry customers.

9: Employee time clock

Lost time cards and antiquated timecard machines are on their way out. Employee time clock apps eliminate punch-in errors, while reducing the costliness of buying timecards and machines. iPads can be placed on the wall near the entrance of a building for employees to clock in and clock out in an instant.

10: Surveys/customer feedback

What's the most effective way for retailers to find out what customers think? Ask them directly. iPads make it easier to gather timely and effective feedback. Placing devices directly in stores (as kiosks) enables customers to respond to questions at the touch of a finger.

What are some other ways that the iPad is being used in your organization? Share your feedback in the discussion thread below.

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

5 comments
CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't see how the device replaces a card. Unfortunately, the link in the article took me to a vendor site that required my e-mail address. I'm not interested in buying the product, and I'm too paranoid to give it to them just for informational purposes. How does a tablet replace a customer loyalty card? What do I as a customer present to confirm my membership in a loyalty program? If a tablet is used to replace a cash register, where do employees put ... cash? Or checks, coupons, and all those other bits of paper and coin?

Leova2
Leova2

Personally , I use my iPad for my business in my everyday life. I'm using Beesy currently a very good productivity app. good Todo List, note taking, calendar... a good all in one. it's working very well http://www.beesapps.com/beesy-ipad-to-do/

spdragoo
spdragoo

#2 (Digital Signage): Sorry, but I don't see an iPad as the best choice for this. Even leaving out any dedicated digital signage solutions, any company can get a better buy on, say, LCD or LED TVs. For $399, you can get at least a 25" TV, if not a 30-35" TV. Bigger screen = easier to read, which is better for your customers. #3 (Product displays): Possible potential here, although it's wasted on [b]shoes[/b], of all things. I could see this for larger, big-ticket items...like, say, a new car, where the iPad would replace the window sticker & be able to show the meaningful information you need when purchasing a car. But brand-new sneakers? It's just an expensive gimmick. Unless the product has a high enough price point, [b]or the product tag needs to convey so much information about the product that a paper tag won't do[/b], most businesses should pass on this. #4 (Conference Room Scheduler): If I'm understanding this right, the company is paying at least $399 [b]each[/b] for an iPad to be mounted on the wall outside each conference room, and then tie it into the existing Exchange server... so that people won't overbook the rooms? So you're telling me there's [b]no existing method (software or hardware)[/b] that will hook up to an Exchange Server or Google Calendar & do the same thing, while costing much less? And that's assuming the building already has an existing Wi-Fi network to hook up to (i.e. no additional cost to install/maintain the network)...not to mention the cost to ensure that no one "appropriates" the iPad for themselves. #6 (Loyalty Rewards): This is a great idea...provided that they ask the customers first. Unless they have a policy in place where the customers grants them authorization to maintain those records, they can't actually do it. But as long as they take care of that, it shouldn't be a problem. #8 (Restaurant Wait Lists): First of all, there's no way I'll even consider eating at a restaurant that will make me use up my SMS minutes just for them to let me know that my table's ready. That's what their PA system, or even the existing "pagers" they're already using, are for. Second, considering that most restaurants tend to have unique seating arrangements, and that the assignment of tables to customers is not just based on which tables are open & how many are in the party, but also which waitstaff members are available, means that any app would need to be heavily customizable. And then you have the question of how much time (& therefore money) the app plus the cost of the iPad truly saves the restaurant, versus the existing table assignment method. There's some potential there, but I don't think it's quite ready yet. #9 (Time Clock): I'm sorry, but I'd have to see some data showing that a $399 iPad, plus the required Wi-Fi connection, is actually cheaper than a true time clock. Oh, sure, maybe in a factory or other "blue-collar" setting, you might find this would work as a replacement. But for a lot of office settings, the "time clock" is already electronic, in that it either automatically notes when you log into your PC/phone system, or makes note of when your ID/security badge was swiped to allow you access. Spending a few hundred dollars on top of an existing system, just to duplicate existing function, doesn't make a lot of fiscal sense.

rstoeber
rstoeber

One of my clients provides maintenance services to retail stores across a four-state area. We gave their carpenters, painters and other workers iPads to replace clipboards for filling out work orders. Job schedules are also sent to the workers on the iPad. Another client is using iPads in their marketing department to complete "mystery shopper" reports as they visit their 400 retail locations. More information on both of those projects available here: http://rstoeber.com/projects.html

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't see any tablet as having a large enough display to be effective as a digital sign. Maybe on a restaurant counter displaying the day's specials, but a whiteboard is a lot cheaper. Ditto on the conference room scheduling.

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