Traditional DSD route accounting was not a closed loop. But thanks to the mobile computer, the process is fast becoming one. The driver can take pictures of damaged product with the camera installed on the handheld, he can scan UPC codes and use the RFID feature now available to confirm what and how much is being delivered. And, with the various types of communications connectivity, such as wireless 802.11, the driver can even send invoices directly to the customer's computer, bringing them directly into the closed loop system.
"What you're finding is that they're taking inventory with these devices, doing merchandising in-store and even doing price optimization. In many ways the delivery person is now the eyes and ears of the manufacturer/distributor as they go through the daily activities of the job," says Motorola's Mcnerny.
"This is actually making everyone's lives easier," says Blue Bell's Gaskamp. "We already know how much inventory is in the driver's truck at the end of the day because he's downloaded all of that information and already sent it to us, which means the driver doesn't have to come in and spend an hour trying to reconcile his paperwork. He can just put the handheld in the cradle and call it a day."