Thai-Based Home Product Centre Goes Mobile with Rugged Tablets

Established just 20 years ago, Home Product (HomePro) Centre has quickly grown into Thailand’s largest chain of home improvement and gardening stores. Today, the company operates 75 stores nationwide and recently opened its first flagship store in Malaysia. By 2020, the chain plans to have 100 outlets throughout the country.

With this rapid growth in mind, the chain’s management recently sought out mobility solutions to help employees more efficiently track inventory, pricing, promotions, and other in-store operations. Like many retailers, they experimented with supplying their sales team with consumer-grade tablets, but this proved to be an expensive proposition. While the devices provided their employees with the mobility and convenience the company sought, it was costly for HomePro, as the consumer-grade tablets didn’t hold up in the rigorous day-to-day environment.

“We knew the value of mobile computing to our business,” said SVP for Information and Communication Technology Sudapa Chamod. “When both Android and iOS devices came into the market, we saw an opportunity to use these at a larger scale, to not only serve our customers better in the store but also have functions like stock-checking, promotion-checking, and price-checking to be migrated over this new platform.”

Not only did HomePro want to take advantage of these new mobile ecosystems, but the company also needed a mobile tablet solution that could provide the services required to keep employees productive while holding up against the wear and tear of the retail environment. They sought out a rugged tablet that was engineered with extensive business use in mind, Panasonic’s Toughpad.

The two primary features that attracted HomePro to the Toughpad, according to Chamod, was its design and operating system. The Toughpad tablet’s Android platform offered HomePro flexibility, given that HomePro develops its own in-house apps.

“Having an Android OS made it easy for us to find developers, and we didn’t need to buy any development tools specifically. The device management software we used is compatible and all the old functions we needed were easily migrated onto the device,” Chamod said.

Since deploying the Toughpad tablets at their brick-and-mortar locations, HomePro is already realizing a return on its investment, Chamod said. The company also has plans to expand the use of the tablets into other areas of their business.

“We want to introduce more mobility to our sales workforce in store and outside the store. We target to use all these devices in all the operations if we can,” she said. “We just need to roll it out one by one—in-store first for our sales force, and then the next step we are thinking about is our delivery workforce. We can have these tablets used by our delivery team as well—maps, location-based tracking, and so on.”