Mobile retail IT devices are playing a starring role in omnichannel. They allow retailers to bring data-fueled digital capabilities into the store to create a seamless, elevated shopping experience, part of an industry-wide transformation to put the focus squarely on the customer.

These investments are already paying off: IHL reports 77 percent higher sales growth for retailers that provide mobile sales tools for staff, and 92 percent higher for mobile POS (mPOS). It’s critical that retailers leverage mobile device management (MDM) to ensure devices are secure, up-to-date and operating at peak efficiency.

MDM helps retailers optimize their investments in smartphones and tablets. According to RSR Research’s IT Spending in Retail 2018, retail “winners” are far more likely to be planning to increase spending on MDM over the next three years than other retailers — 60 percent to 26 percent, respectively.

Picking the Right Solution

The terms MDM and enterprise mobility management (EMM) tend to be used interchangeably, but they’re really not the same. Generally, MDM addresses the health, status and security of devices, and EMM adds capabilities such as mobile app management and mobile content management on top of MDM functions. Each developer uses the terms a little differently, however, so it’s important to understand what’s included.

Samsung works with a variety of MDM and EMM developers to help retailers and other users manage their devices, in addition to its own Samsung SDS EMM solution. The Samsung Knox suite of solutions facilitates and complements the functionality of those products. Knox includes solutions to configure, enroll, manage, remotely update, support, secure and maintain mobile devices by leveraging the Knox platform already built into every Samsung device from the chip up.

What Retailers Need From MDM/EMM

The ways a retailer uses mobile devices in-store — as part of a large fleet, shared among multiple users, for long periods of time, accessing cloud-based applications or handling sensitive personal and financial data — determines a lot of their MDM/EMM requirements.

Enrollment/Configuration: An MDM/EMM supplies and distributes mobile apps to easily onboard new devices in the field, while locking them down to prevent unauthorized uses. For retailers choosing to enable personal use, or a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, container technology offered in some EMM solutions enables them to partition the corporate and personal sides of the device to prevent data leakage.

Remote Updates: Ensuring that everything resident on the device, such as the operating system, is up to date requires that IT be able to facilitate remote updates, typically while devices are charging. It’s important that an MDM/EMM solution accommodates multiple device types (tablets, smartphones, wearables, etc.) and operating systems, so IT can manage all devices from one central console.

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Asset Management: An essential part of asset management is knowing the status and location of all mobile devices. Asset management features in MDM solutions enable a complete hardware and software inventory of the mobile environment.

Support/Troubleshooting: Remote troubleshooting is key to getting faulty devices repaired and back online quickly.

Communications/Policy Management: Another useful feature is a user-facing portal, where retailers can post notices and provide resources such as training modules and FAQs, as well as general employee self-service capabilities like device lock, geolocation for a missing device and views into enrolled devices.

Physical Device Security: Mobile devices are easy to steal, so retailers need to take precautions to prevent and detect theft, and take action if items disappear. Geofencing enables alerts whenever a device leaves a designated perimeter around the store, allowing for outdoor uses such as curb pickup and loading dock receiving. Then, IT needs to be able to wipe or lock down the device to prevent access to networks.

Log-In/Authentication: Because devices may be passed among multiple users, even within a shift, the MDM/EMM must include provisions to enable easy login, logout and authentication of the user while ensuring the retailer has accurate information on who is using the device. It also enables retailers to apply comprehensive access and control policies across all apps and devices from one place.

Battery Management: Mobile devices must be able to run over the course of long shifts. Battery management helps monitor battery life and ensure store operations follow recharging protocols so devices are ready when needed. With remote monitoring included in an MDM/EMM, IT can ensure battery health across a fleet of devices.

Data Security Mobile devices access sensitive data, so it’s critical that an MDM/EMM solution incorporates best-in-class security layers, with the ability to remotely wipe devices that are lost or stolen to prevent data leakage. Centralized commands and provisioning allow different security protocols for different groups of devices. A central console allows IT to easily monitor activity, devices and security violations across an entire fleet of mobile devices from a single location.

Optimizing Mobile Potential

Mobile devices play a starring role in retailers’ efforts to transform the store experience by bringing digital capabilities into formerly data-dark store floors. But to live up to their promise, tablets, smartphones, laptops, kiosks, wearables and other mobile devices must be controlled and managed. A robust MDM/EMM solution is an essential player in having successful mobile operations.

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Lisa Terry

Lisa Terry is a seasoned B2B writer of articles, blogs, research reports, case studies, white papers and e-books, with a long list of media and corporate clients in hospitality as well as retail, IT and supply chain. She has written for Hospitality Technology, HTNG publications, Nation’s Restaurant News, RIS News, Advertising Age, Consumer Goods Technology, Inbound Logistics, Washington Technology and many others.

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