Top Five Tablet Features for Direct Store Delivery

In recent years, many consumer goods manufacturers have increasingly looked to a Direct Store Delivery (DSD) model, meaning product is delivered directly to the retailer – bypassing the distribution center or warehouse. By bringing their goods right to the store and avoiding the added step of a distribution center (often operated by a third party), manufacturers can significantly increase efficiency and reduce operating expenses.

However, by interfacing with the store directly, manufacturers now must also take on tasks that were previously completed by the distribution center team. Such tasks include inventory management, as well as capturing electronic proof of delivery. These tasks require a mobile device and as more manufacturers are discovering, tablets are by far the best fit for the job. But with so many tablet choices on the market today, it can be difficult to determine which model makes the most sense. In order to help make the selection process easier, we put together a list of the top five features to consider when evaluating tablets for DSD needs.


1. Handheld Portability: With delivery drivers balancing everything from boxes to dollies, toting a laptop into the store is simply not an option and even some tablets can be unwieldy as they require two hands (one to hold the tablet and the other to manipulate the touchscreen). At the same time, smartphones may not have all of the needed features or have the ability to run necessary software, thus small tablets or robust handhelds are ideal for this use case. Look for devices that are around five inches in size, as they can easily fit in one hand and can even be dropped in the driver’s pocket when not in use.

2. Durability: Hauling tons of goods in a big rig, as well as continuously loading and unloading them can create a harsh environment for a mobile device. Drivers may be exposed from everything to a walk-in freezer to a rain storm and often face the risk of accidentally dropping their device when loading or unloading the truck. Needless to say, traditional consumer tablets do not hold up well in such an environment. In fact, according to a recent study by VDC Research, the annual failure rates of consumer tablets supporting field mobile applications is 19 percent, substantially higher than the rate of 4.5 percent for rugged enterprise tablets. Higher failure rates can lead to increased costs, as well as significant downtime – a non-option for most manufacturers. Thus, ruggedized devices are the way to go when searching for a DSD mobile solution.

3. Battery Life: With routes that can go far beyond the standard eight-hour workday, extensive battery life is critical for delivery drivers. Consider devices that have approximately 12 to 14 hours of battery life so that drivers can make it through all the day’s deliveries without the worry of a dead battery. With the need for signature capture or other forms of delivery confirmation required by manufacturers, a non-functioning device is simply not an option.

4. Security: With retailer data at stake, manufacturers must implement stringent security features in order to ensure this sensitive information is kept safe. While many device manufacturers now tout their devices as secure, look for third party validation through standards bodies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) 140-2 certification.

5. GPS: While the DSD model significantly increases efficiency, many manufacturers are always looking for ways to continue improving the bottom line. One way this can be achieved is through route optimization, meaning selecting routes that save drivers the most time and fuel when going to and from the manufacturing facility to retailer locations. Route efficiency patterns can be tracked via GPS and therefore, tablets that have this functionality built-in are a great fit for DSD manufacturers looking to achieve optimal driver routes.

As the DSD model continues to grow, so too will the demand for mobile solutions that fit this specific market. Manufacturers are quickly learning that laptops and smartphones fail to stand up to the job, making tablets the best fit by far. While there are many tablet choices on the market today, look for solutions that include these five key features. To learn more about Panasonic’s solutions for DSD, including the world’s most rugged 5-inch tablet, the Toughpad FZ-E1 / FZ-X1, Click here.