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Every retailer knows it’s time to get serious about a mobile strategy, whether it is designed for internal employees or external shoppers. At the SAP Retail Forum North America in Dallas, TX, Hobby Lobby was kind enough to share its mobility journey in using SAP Sybase technologies to develop a product ordering and inventory tracking application for store staff.  At the Forum,  Hobby Lobby shared their experience building and piloting the new application.

Hobby Lobby’s goals for adopting an internal mobile solution were for store associates to get accurate order information; for them to be able to interact with customers and give real time responses (e.g. “Do you have this in stock? When will more arrive?”); to reduce the window of time between order and delivery and to reach the next generation of highly mobile employees.  Hobby Lobby needed a mobile solution that could meet several challenges: the ability to perform ordering for 65,000 SKU’s, track order data for 28 million rows, and growing, of order data, support secure transfer of data, allow for the ordering process to continue in a disconnected state and offer complete control of mobile devices.

The SAP Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) was chosen as the platform for developing the customized mobile application for product ordering and tracking. SUP supports mobile device during its disconnected state at the store level (gives store associates instant mobile access to inventory info via mobile device) and secures the transport of product and ordering data between the mobile device and the server.  The SAP Afaria solution was chosen to deploy the mobile application onto each device, track the devices and to provide remote support or wiping in case of theft.

As for hardware, the iPad was chosen as the ideal tablet based on its size, market share and its controlled operating system.  Hobby Lobby also decided on a Griffin Case with a shoulder strap to allow both left and right-handed store associates to easily and comfortably carry the iPad around the store.  WiFi in the store, rather than a data plan, powers the mobile application.

With this well-planned mobile implementation, Hobby Lobby has achieved  a lower cost of product distribution, reduced labor, a more efficient warehouse and also a morale boost.  With the SAP Sybase-powered iPads, Hobby Lobby took the drudgery and labor intensity out of product ordering and made it an easier, more enjoyable task.

While Hobby Lobby’s SAP mobile solution is still in the pilot phase, the company is envisioning a multitude of future possibilities such as using the iPads to create custom orders for shoppers, to support fabric or floral operations or to provide project inspirations.  We’ll be eagerly waiting to see more from Hobby Lobby’s mobility journey!

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  1. Colin Haig

    Michael – More and more companies are embarking on the mobile journey. Great to hear stories like this where real companies are taking steps forward.

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