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.
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.
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.