Why Your Business Needs iPads

Is your cash register on its last legs? Are you tired of lugging your product catalog? It's time to consider an upgrade.
Forbes Contributor: Makers, Inventors, Small Business, Forbes
June 28, 2012

Let’s cut to the chase: Can an iPad change your business and make it more profitable? Chances are, the answer is yes. One of the world’s biggest industries, retail, and its sister industry, wholesale, are using the iPad on a daily basis, in a variety of ways to improve profits.

You may have met some of the many small business owners who are now using the iPad as a point-of-sale (POS) system, along with the Square credit card reader. Small retailers, especially new ones, are completely bypassing traditional POS cash registers in favor of the iPad. For example, if you want an elegant and unique cash register, check out “The Cashbox” from Happy Owl Studio. You don’t really need one; you could just stand your iPad up with the Square card reader sticking off the side.

A Multipurpose Device

Tera Rae Stephens runs Tek Salon in Costa Mesa, Calif. using the iPad. She uses it for her point of sales solution, but also as a scheduling device, a customer database, as well as tool for customer entertainment.

In researching this story, I have dozens of e-mails from upstart retailers, kiosk owners and wandering merchants from farmer’s markets who have added the iPad to their booth or storefront. Some are using the iPhone, but many have migrated to the tablet device for its larger screen. While my inbox is far from a scientific survey, it did fill up in less than 48 hours with more than 100 responses to my request for stories about businesses using the iPad.

On the wholesale side, the shift is even more amazing.

Dump the Catalog

For example, Matsuda Eyewear sells its artisan line of glasses to select retail stores. But they added the WRNTY app for order management and to provide a full color catalog so that sales reps could have access to ready-to-be-shipped products. Instead of carrying around expensive eyewear (or a heavy paper catalog), reps can reduce their risks of carrying valuables and streamline sales in the process.

Service industries can also make use of the iPad. The Madison Real Estate Group has field agents who work with home buyers and renters. In this customer-facing work, they built a custom iPad application to allow them to do almost everything normally considered the back office or wholesale side: from signing rental agreements to documenting property damage and serving eviction notices, their team can speed up the process of customer service.

There's an App for That

These few examples may give you an idea for how the iPad can change your business process. If there isn’t an application in the iTunes store, you can get one custom built (I have heard good things about the custom app team at Sweb Development). Yes, you’ll have development costs, but if it will save you or your team time and effort, you can probably recoup the investment. The iPad is not just a pretty gaming or browsing device; it is a robust business machine that can help you serve customers and get more work done out in the field or on the shop floor.

TJ runs TechBizTalk.com, a review, how-to and tutorial site to help you discover the top new web-based applications and services for your growing company.

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