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When one Windows closes, another opens

What fleet managers should know about Windows mobile.

For businesses with any type of fleet or delivery operations, the news that the Windows mobile platform will no longer be supported in coming years could bring uncertainty about hassle and expense of replacing your fleet’s Windows-based mobile devices. Yet, rather than focus on the challenges of the impending upgrade – why not to focus instead on the benefits. Here are four good reasons to embrace the change.

Reason #1: Reduced costs for handheld devices

A typical system for fleet operations includes route management software, connected handheld mobile devices paired with mobile printers. In the past, chances are your company spent around $2,000 for each rugged handheld unit you deployed to route drivers. Now, with Windows mobile soon-to-be-obsolete, the cost of acquiring new replacement devices can be dramatically lower.

As part of the upgrade process, many companies are opting for mid-priced consumer smartphones or tablets in ruggedized cases built to protect devices from damage – and these smartphones or tablets are often much lower in cost than Windows-based handhelds. To save even more, companies are also adopting a bring your own device (BYOD) policy, where employees uses their personal Android or iOS smartphones on the job.

Another plus when upgrading beyond Windows handhelds is that the new consumer devices are not only lower in cost, but they can seamlessly integrate with mobile printers you’re currently using for fleet operations – delivering maximum value on your current investment.

Reason #2: Happier drivers

It’s no surprise that some of your drivers will prefer Android phones and others their iPhone mobile devices. The key is making sure your mobile printers also work with both platforms – they should include built-in Apple AirPrint connectivity with seamless Apple MFi and Android integration. Also, they should be 100% compatible with iPod touch, iPhone, iPad and Android devices, allowing route drivers or any type of mobile field workforces to print instantly from their device, without needing to download and install specific drivers. 

Look also for printers with dual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity to help overcome the “last mile” connectivity challenges of a mobile workforce. Whether they are operating inside a facility, store, warehouse or vehicle – or moving from one to the other – your workers want easy connectivity. A rugged printer with dual connectivity options to support a wide range of applications from retail and warehouse to outdoor and in-vehicle mobile environments can be a game changer.

Reason #3: Greater efficiency

The faster your drivers can complete customer transactions, the faster they can be on their way to the next delivery. Fast processing is important, and so is fast printing of a wide variety of receipts, invoices, labels and other documents.

Giving drivers the freedom to print almost anywhere, anytime is what Glazers Beer & Beverage LLC was missing. This fast-growing, Dallas-based wholesale beverage distributor invested in smart mobile technology to overcome the challenges and complexity of running about 275 delivery routes, each averaging 15 stops a day.

They selected a leading, road-tested route accounting software system and paired it with two hardware components, iPhones and mobile printers. Since going live, Glazer has boosted efficiency and productivity for its 300 drivers, helping drive profits as well as vastly improving the customer experience.

Reason #4: Overall satisfaction

At the heart of customer satisfaction is reducing errors and improving communication. As Alliance Beverage Distributing discovered, every touch point also becomes an opportunity to create a positive experience.

This Grand Rapids, MI-based distributor invested in handheld iOS devices and mobile printers for every route driver, with the goal of maximizing speed and accuracy at every step of distribution, from order submission to picking and palletizing to delivery.

The mobile printers they deployed gave their drivers the “anywhere, anytime” ability to print a wide variety of documents, including order recaps, final invoices, scan sheets for customers who track inventory with UPCs, truck inventories, short reports, delivery confirmation and returned good receipts.

In addition to their drivers’ ability to deliver more beverages faster and with better accuracy, Alliance drivers’ satisfaction also increased as they were able to be more responsive to customer needs.

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