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Mobile technology: An essential part of your merchandising services workforce management

Mobile-integrated technology has burst onto the scene in so many industries. The benefits of being a mobile-connected organization can be felt in verticals steeped in history – and brand-new ones as well. For companies with a field workforce (like merchandise service orgs), mobile is becoming an essential ingredient to success.

With mobile capabilities, you're able to unlock value in your field service and sales teams in four key areas: managing productivity, maintaining open communication, tracking employees, and scheduling/routing workers. There are many more, but let's talk about four for now.

Mobile technology: essential part of your merchandise services workforce management

Manage productivity

Merchandising services organizations (MSO) are built on employees in the field. Back in the day, management of field workers had to be done intermittently – often by phone contact. Now, mobile management software can keep you updated in "real time".

Field activities can be quickly submitted through mobile field management software as they are completed in-store, reducing delays in reporting and improving productivity.

At times, store projects can’t be completed. And multiple people might need to be notified in order to wrap things up. With automated tracking software connecting mobile devices to the main office, field managers can manage task assignments, alerting others to follow up on the project without having to return to the office.

Maintain open communications

At times, managers may need to alert the field team about products, project status, or other issues while they are in the store or on the way. For example, sales potential can be maximized by identifying the most valuable mix of available products and sharing your findings immediately – before a sales rep takes the order.

You can instantly comment with mobile messaging capabilities. No need to set aside time to make a phone call or send an email. Communication with field workers becomes more efficient, which leads to better client servicing and the potential for higher sales.

Employee tracking

GPS technology provides a significant advancement in employee tracking. Unfortunately, not all employees are honorable or perfect, so retail field managers have to be able to locate and confirm field worker whereabouts. GPS mapping and messaging capabilities enable team leaders to know when workers are inside a geofence or when they are at the wrong store or the right store but wrong time.

The impact areas that can be improved with mobile employee tracking include client billing accuracy, budgeting and forecasting, route planning, and supply chain management, among others.

Scheduling and routing

In order to maximize your field workforce, tight scheduling and optimized routing are essential. Schedules and route assignments can be accessed by field workers during transit and on site using mobile technology. This reduces delays and confusion.

Schedules can get disrupted for a number of reasons. Lack of product, change orders, or new requests can throw off store projects instantly. You've got to be able to update schedules, adjust routing, and communicate changes immediately to your field. Without mobile technology, managers would have to rely on slower reporting from the field, and would have to work harder to make adjustments on the fly.

And GPS allows you to route workers to stores within a certain radius, so employees aren't travelling more than a specific number of miles. In some cases, your primary workforce may not be available at a particular time. Secondary workers (part-time, per diem, etc.) can then be routed to the unassigned store closest to them. This helps to reduce travel time while improving labor utilization.

BYOD is becoming the norm

MSOs are joining the wave of companies that have adopted a bring-your-own-device policy. BYOD makes sense when you consider the benefits described above. And workers, for the most part, are adjusting to using their devices while they work.  

Connecting your remote workforce with mobile technology, such as the ESP task management solution, helps ensure that missed assignments, disrupted projects, and incomplete tasks don't dilute your value as an MSO. A good mobile strategy can provide retail service managers and other stakeholders with confidence that distribution, stocking, and other merchandising function are executed as agreed and as expected.

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Topics: Technology mso mobile apps