Australia Post tests smartphone solution to help in-store staff better serve customers

Image: Asha Barbaschow / ZDNet

Australia Post has developed a robust pilot smartphone solution that it hopes will eventually replace up to eight different devices used by staff to serve customers on its network of 4,000 post offices.

“We have a large number of devices in our stores which are largely shared among all staff in that store and this creates challenges regarding the disinfection of these devices between use and at the end of the day,” he said. said Ben Llewellyn, Australia Post’s technology business partner. VMware 2021 virtual conference.

“So what we’re looking to do is create a situation where each staff member has their own device from the start of the problem to the end of the problem and not sharing those devices.”

Developed using VMware Workspace One Launcher, the solution was designed to allow staff to digitally capture handwritten sender and recipient labels on packages and avoid the manual process of entering each name and address. in the point of sale (POS) system; send emails from the front-of-store instead of going to the back-office; scan bar codes; and scan security and compliance documents.

Australia Post launched an extensive pilot of the Android mobile solution at its Chadstone store in Melbourne, which Llewellyn described as having been so successful that the outlet was at “week 22 of our four-week trial” .

“It became more and more obvious to me the opportunity created by this concept, in terms of folding all these devices together. Simplification alone is likely to drop from 26,000 devices across our stores to around 13,000, ”Llewellyn added.

“With that, there are fewer cables, fewer cords, fewer batteries, less dust, less devices obviously, fewer support contracts, fewer suppliers. It shrinks and shrinks and shrinks. The opportunity is huge for us. ”

Llewellyn said Australia Post’s telecommunications transformation project was the basis for the possibility of deploying this capability across its network of post offices.

“This ultimately set up our backbone network in our retail stores for something that could address that. He got in-store Wi-Fi for us which we didn’t have before. It made SD-WAN and the Internet faster, which we haven’t had before either, ”he said.

But making the pilot smartphone solution widely available in its retail stores will only be part of Australia Post’s broader digital transformation plans, he added. The organization is also engaged in a four-year point of sale transformation process.

“We currently have a 32 year old point of sale system that looks a bit like a Frankenstein. we have adapted with that by bolting more and more things into our venerable point of sale system, ”said Llewellyn.

In the next steps, Llewellyn said Australia Post will examine how the pilot mobile device and its new point-of-sale terminal could “work together seamlessly and complement each other”

“The mobile device gives us the ability to take technology with us indoors and out, both of which are vitally important to our stores,” he said.

“The back room is where all of the parcel magic happens and the front house is where we would really ideally like to serve our customers… and you know how to accompany people throughout the journey from sending parcels. ”

He noted that some of the specific capability enhancements the Postal Service would consider adding to the mobile solution include optical character recognition, image capture, document scanning, fax replacement and photo taking. ‘identity.

“There are a bunch of capabilities that we hope to build into this device and really simplify what it means for our staff to have access to all the tools and applications they need to serve customers and create awesome customer experiences.” , Llewellyn said.

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