Every day around 1.9 million customers shop in the more than 3,600 dm-Drogerie Markt (dm) stores across Europe. When advising customers in-store, employees frequently need to instantly access information about a specific product.
To ensure customers receive even better support and advice in stores, dmTECH (the IT group within dm) decided to look for a solution that would quickly deliver the necessary product information without delay. The plan was to use more than 34,000 employee smartphones to achieve this. dmTECH chose the Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK to power barcode scanning for product identification in their mobile solution. Scandit’s software makes it possible to capture product data by scanning its barcode. Once the item is scanned, the dmTECH app immediately supplies all the product information to the store employees.
“The path we take at dm is one of consistent customer focus. In this context, being able to advise customers is essential. With the app we have developed and with barcode scanning from our partner Scandit, we are giving our colleagues in the dm stores a tool that will enable them to advise our customers even better,” said Roman Melcher, dm General Manager, who oversees the IT/dmTECH department.
The challenge: enable all employees to scan items with a smart device app, while delivering the same performance as conventional scanning devices
dm offers customers more than 12,500 items in its brick-and-mortar retail outlets alone. The product barcodes carry a wealth of information, such as ingredients. As a result, conversations with dm customers often lead to employees needing to give relevant information about a specific product to customers right away. To enable staff to help customers even more effectively, dmTECH needed to build a solution that would supply the necessary warehouse and product data in real time in an app. However, this led to two challenges: firstly, the information had to be made available to dm employees in a way that was both mobile and practical to guarantee seamless and smooth store operations. Secondly, dmTECH needed to ensure that the solution would to be able to integrate into the existing IT infrastructure.
The solution: a mobile app with high-performance barcode scanning to provide in store employees with real-time access to product information
As part of the solution, dmTECH decided to replace the traditional MDC devices (conventional scanners) with employee smartphones. The MDC devices had previously been shared by several employees in the dm stores, now all dm employees have smartphones so they do not have to share devices. Employees identify Items by scanning the barcode, then the mobile app that dmTECH developed enables the product information to be displayed in a user-friendly manner on the smartphone screen. This makes it possible to quickly and independently access important information for customers on product availability, ingredients, environmental compatibility,and allergy triggers.
One of the key factors in the decision was that the Scandit-powered app enabled dm employees to have rapid access to vital information at all times, since they always have their devices on hand. The use of modern technology and innovative data provision was another factor. In addition to offering a reliable solution for accessing the necessary data from the SAP system, dm chose Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK for product recognition and data capture in the smartphone app because it was easy for store employees to use. The Scandit solution also performs well under difficult conditions including poor and dim lighting, when barcodes are small and hard-to-read, or obscured by reflections. The Scandit solution also enables a scanner and a keyboard to be shown simultaneously on the display via a split screen on the smartphone so employees can use both at the same time. Scandit’s barcode scanning solution, combined with the rapid delivery of SAP-based data, proved to be the best and most reliable combination in tests comparing alternative options. This proved decisive in the evaluation, especially with regard to meeting employee and customer needs.
The implementation: integrating the solution into the existing infrastructure
dmTECH worked with dm store employees to tailor the functions of the employee app to the in-store requirements. This approach drove the development, testing, and roll-out of the new solution. The aim was to ensure rapid deployment and seamless operation in the stores.
The results: customers’ product enquiries are answered fully, in real time and employees rate the new app as an effective work tool
The new app by dmTECH, combined with the product recognition provided by the Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK, received very positive feedback as soon as it was introduced. The flexible smartphone-based application has proven equal in every way to traditional dedicated barcode scanners. 34,000 employee smartphones are now in use, replacing the MDC devices. The solution, developed by dmTECH together with Scandit, enables store employees to answer customers’ product enquiries even more comprehensively in real time. The practical application has met with a thoroughly positive response from customers, as the advice on the shop floor is even more personalized and targeted now. In addition, the solution offers added value for dm employees: they can also use their smartphones for stock-taking. They can reliably recognize and identify product even under difficult conditions (small codes, reflections, shadows, damaged or bent codes, distance, bad light, etc.). This represents considerable time savings and also provides a foundation for optimizing business-critical processes.
The introduction of employee smartphones not only forms the basis for improved customer advice, but also provides a platform that can potentially be utilized for future applications. There are already other ideas on how to further improve existing processes in the retail, logistics, and corporate environments by exploiting Scandit’s mobile computer vision technology and augmented reality solutions.