4 Creative Ways Mobile can Keep Your Supply Chain on Track

4 Creative Ways Mobile can Keep Your Supply Chain on Track

Mobile devices are everywhere. Every aspect of the supply chain, from the supplier to the consumer, has been impacted by mobile technology. There is a good chance that you are already using mobile in your supply chain but is your mobile strategy keeping up with the needs of your operation?

Not only is mobile hardware changing quickly, with new phones being released constantly, but the software that runs on these devices is also changing. Device manufacturers are continuing to add more and more features into the operating system of mobile devices as well as giving developers the ability to quickly take advantage of these new features in their mobile apps. In addition to the devices and software improvements, manufacturers have also been producing rugged cases for mobile devices that add superior durability while still being able to take advantage of the latest mobile technology and features.

Barcode Scanners

While barcode scanners have been used with mobile apps for a very long time, there have also been many hardware and software improvements that have increased both reliability and ease of use. A good scanner can make the difference in the adoptability of your app and can make your business more efficient from source to customer. Reducing the time it takes to actually scan an item and adding support for many more barcode types can make tasks like asset tracking and inventory management much more efficient. It complements voice features well by allowing identification of products in environments where speech recognition might not work well. Our recent experience was with AC Moore’s employees.

  • Scanning a product in warehouse for inventory count
  • Identifying a package being transported by scanning barcodes at delivery checkpoints

Speech Recognition

Voice and speech recognition have probably have made very rapid advancements in the past few years. All the major players including Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Samsung, have worked on optimizing and perfecting the ability to recognize and process speech. Not only will you find it in mobile devices, but this past year has seen a large adoption of devices such as Amazon’s stand-alone Echo and Dot products. What used to be a novelty years ago has now transformed into an valuable feature available on almost all modern mobile devices. Speech recognition is able to easily complement technologies like barcode scanning in areas such as inventory management. It also has the flexibility of being as adjustable and powerful as you need by tying a recognized vocabulary with data from suppliers, transportation, sales, and consumers.

  • Using voice to document quality control inspections
  • Improving safety by not requiring workers to take eyes off equipment and instead use voice to enter/read data


GPS technology has also improved over the years giving mobile devices much quicker and more precise location information. While traditional mobile uses of GPS like navigation are quite mainstream, features such as geofencing are not as widespread. Geofencing creates a virtual geographic boundary that mobile software can react to. It can trigger a check in when a truck arrives with a shipment or optimize and adjust workflows based on estimated times of arrival. When combined with a smart mobile app, it can also give receiving terminals detailed information about drivers and shipments (eliminating possible paperwork) as well as giving feedback back to drivers about possible gate changes or wait times. Here’s how Shockoe has helped JB Hunt in accomplishing a similar project. All of these not only make supply chain flows more efficient but also increase satisfaction of the people involved at all points of the process.

  • Efficient routing of trucks and personnel based on real-time location of goods and equipment
  • Tracking package deliveries for optimizing route and fuel efficiency to save time & money


With the introduction of Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) beacons, companies have been able to improve the logistics of their business in a much more efficient (and affordable) way than what was delivered with RFID. Early adoption of beacons was often used for indoor navigation, where GPS signal was unreliable. Shockoe has tackled this through a great personalized tour experience app with Anheuser-Busch. Uses have expanded to allow workers to efficiently navigate and locate items in storage, as well as being able to give a customer the ability to find the product they are looking for in a retail store. In addition to location proximity, beacons can also be fitted with additional sensors for light, humidity, and temperature; which expands their many uses to areas such as storage and transportation. A beacons low cost, enhanced battery lifetime, and the fact that they can be used with mobile devices (bypassing the need for specialized equipment), makes them particularly ideal for supply chain operations.

  • Alert personnel that humidity levels for monitored goods are above acceptable range and direct them to the location using their mobile device
  • Navigate grocery customers looking for a certain product to the correct aisle for the store

Mobile technologies are being used in all aspects of supply chain management from manufacturing to the consumer. At Shockoe, we are building smart mobile apps that leverage the latest features available. We work to give suppliers, truck drivers, dispatchers, receivers, retail stores, and customers real-time insights and collaboration using an app they love. What are your thoughts on supply chain mobility benefits? Leave a comment – we’d love to hear how you’re incorporating mobility in your day-to-day. 


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Our experience and core services include strategy & transformation, user experience & design, mobile application development, and API management.

The Buzz Around Beacons

The Buzz Around Beacons

Business Insider recently published an article exploring the world of beacon technology. Many companies from airports to retailers are already using beacon technology. Being app developers ourselves, we pay close attention to anything that presents opportunity in mobile.

If you’re new to the concept, a beacon is a small device that broadcasts a Bluetooth low energy (BLE) signal. That signal contains the beacon’s unique identifiers, called a UUID, and a few other data points about it.  Beacons don’t record data, store information or send push alerts. All of that happens through an app.

A real-world example:
I’m attending SXSW, one of the hottest interactive, film and music festivals in the world held in Austin, TX. The official SXSW mobile app was enabled by beacons which significantly improved my registration experience by getting an alert containing my Registration QuickCode when I was in the vicinity of the SXSW registration booth. They also placed 50+ beacons at various event venues in and around the Austin Convention Center allowing SXW to welcome me to a session, encourage me to join discussions about a session within the SXSW app, see which other attendees were at that session and view tweets related to that session.

For a smartphone to be able to detect and make use of a beacon, it must meet four criteria.

(1)  the end user must have an app installed that recognizes beacons
(2)  the device must be Bluetooth enabled
(3)  the user must opt-in to share location with the app
(4)  the device must be running iOS 7 or higher or Android 4.3 or higher

The initial lure and marketing hype around beacons centers on real-time notifications. Installing beacons in merchandising areas enables you to send shoppers location-aware, targeted notifications, branded content and personalized offers. Within seconds or less of detecting a beacon, the app decodes the signal and delivers a push alert to the device: “Welcome to Starbucks. Free Mini-Scone with Purchase of a Drink. Today Only!”

Perhaps you’re taking the family to Marvel’s “Heroes on Ice” tour. The app detects a beacon at the venue, then serves up content relevant to that context. The user opens the app and sees “Best Restaurants Downtown.”

Additionally, the app sends push notifications alerting you to content relevant to your current location, or nearby advertisers. This more active approach builds upon the first two examples, but uses a combination of beacon technology and push notifications to prompt action from the user.

As more companies around the globe deploy beacons, we end up with a network of physical places that each have their own digital bookmark. A beacon gives a location its own real-world “URL,” or a way to identify and connect the physical and digital realms.

Knowing this digital footprint of locations empowers companies to understand how an opted-in audience navigates through the world. What are people shopping for? How often? When do they typically visit?

Data built over time is the key to unlocking valuable audience understanding, which companies can use to improve local, regional, and national sales. Better audience data equals better products, happier users, more engagement, more effective campaigns, and ultimately more revenue opportunities.

Testing and innovating with beacons is absolutely worth pursuing in 2015 in parallel to using proven sources like Facebook, Twitter, Google.  Bridging the mobile revenue gap is top priority, and requires new tactics and audience understanding. Beacons offer potential solutions to both.

Image Credit:  Estimote Beacons