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There’s an App for That

Those of you who walked the FMI expo floor in Las Vegas this past May likely came across one of the many suppliers that presented their offerings using an iPad. I myself viewed at least a half-dozen presentations on the device. Exhibitors loved them. No longer did sales reps have to stand outside the booth waiting for a free workstation; if it was too crowded, they simply grabbed their iPads and made their presentations Elsewhere.
What the iPad has done is given us the ability to deliver media-rich presentations any time, anywhere, without having to lug a laptop or squint to view images on a mobile phone. This means that every one of your associates can be a mobile information kiosk providing a wealth of useful information for shoppers in the store.
Aisle7 (formerly Healthnotes), a Portland, Ore.-based provider of wellness-driven shopper marketing programs for food and drug retail, has already adapted its offerings to the iPad. Last month, the company introduced its Aisle7 Wellness App- Stream, a set of standards-based Web services allowing retailers to make on-demand requests to any of the Aisle7 databases, among them Healthnotes, its flagship application that provides articles and information on self-care, including health conditions, vitamins and herbs, and drug-nutrient interactions. It also has apps that make food recommendations for specific diets, offer prescription drug information and provide meal-planning content. There are hundreds – if not thousands – of iPad apps with valuable consumer information of all kinds, such as calorie counts of different food products, beauty tips, and health-and-wellness guides. Plus, your developers can create custom applications for your stores, such as product finders, allergy or recall alerts, food-and-wine pairing guides, or a collection of cooking instruction videos to educate a shopper on the spot how to prepare a specific meal.
Here’s one scenario: A shopper who’s planning a weekend barbecue asks your associate some mealplanning questions that include which cuts of meat grill best, how to set up the grill, what marinades to use, which wines go best with a grilled steak, and, since one of his friends is diabetic, what kind ofdesserts a diabetic can eat. Instead of running from department to department trying to find this information, the associate simply pulls his iPad from the case slung over his shoulder, and walks the shopper through the relevant apps to deliver this information. To top it off, the associate plays a video that demonstrates proper grilling setup and cooking. Then the iPad’s back in its case, and he’s off to the next shopper. What’s more, the iPad also has office productivity applications, so the store manager can use it to create a memo for the staff or a presentation for his division manager, without leaving the sales floor.
The Pages for iPad app allows you to create all kinds of documents – including newsletters, reports, brochures and fliers – using just your fingers. You can even view and edit Word documents with the app, and then export them in Pages, Microsoft Word and PDF formats. 
With the Keynote app, users can import Microsoft PowerPoint files or develop them in the Keynote app itself. Unfortunately, the presentations created in Keynote can’t be exported in Microsoft PowerPoint format, just as PDFs.
Numbers, the iPad spreadsheet app, has the same drawback. While it’s very user-friendly and includes more than 250 functions, the spreadsheets can also only be exported as PDFs. However, it’s a good bet that Apple will soon develop enterprise office apps allowing you to view operations reports as you walk the floor.
On a positive note, the iPad’s battery life is outstanding. I recently chatted about this particular feature with Harry Stagnito, president and CEO of Progressive Grocer’s parent company, Stagnito Media, who is a recent iPad adopter and avid fan. In short, Harry is blown away by how long the iPad lasts before it needs a charge, after using it heavily from morning until night with no need for recharging. 
I’m sure all of you iPhone users will be happy to hear that!