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Retail Chain Mobile Inventory Controller Application

Case Study: A leading national home improvement retail chain with more than 300 stores and over 45,000 employees needed an Inventory Controller application that was responsible for general store inventory lookup (by SKU or UPC#), creating bin tags, updating inventory counts, checking on customer orders, and helping conduct inventory audits, all in a new non-proprietary platform that works on a standard Android tablet.

Featured Retail & Consumer Goods

Case-Study

Technology Used
Java
Android
JUnit
Eclipse
Zxing
Tortoise SVN

 

Methodology
Rapid Application Development

Project

Connect National Retail Chain Locations Using Handheld Devices And Real-Time Information To Assist Customer Service

 

Project Requirements

The new Android Handheld Replacement system had to be completed quickly due to impending new store openings. New devices and software for those devices were required to provide the same in-store capability at existing stores. The grand opening dates created a situation where the delivery timeframe and feature set were fixed.

Result

Intertech deployed an experienced team of four Android developers to work hand-in-hand with the client’s team to ensure a clear understanding of the completion of this process. Except for an initial week on-site, all work was carried out remotely. Team members created a feature/screen delivery schedule for both applications based on the outlined timeframe and delivery schedule.

Overview

Applications had to function using the client’s unreliable Wi-Fi. Given the size and extent of each store’s interior and exterior retail and lumber footprint, Wi-Fi connectivity was intermittent. This required the applications to operate in online and offline modes. During offline mode, the application had to store data on the device. When the device detected it was again connected, the application had to forward all locally-stored data during offline mode to the client’s inventory control systems.

One of the primary challenges was that the manufacture no longer provided the Windows CE handheld units used in existing stores. This issue forced the client to search on eBay and other third-party providers to find enough devices to continue serving their existing stores. Because of this, much of the documentation and understanding of the legacy handheld system (and data communications to backend servers) had been lost over the years. For this reason, requirements often changed with the re-discovery of system functionality in the existing systems.

In the end, the system was broken into two parts; an Inventory Controller application that was responsible for general store inventory lookup (by SKU or UPC#), creating bin tags, updating inventory counts, checking on customer orders, and helping to conduct inventory audits, and a Gate Guard application that provided checkout tools to the lumber yard gate guards. Specifically, the Gate Guard application provided product bar scanning and invoice checking capability. This enabled our client to update orders, record shortages, and record customer merchandise acceptance.

The project delivered in less than two months (on-time), and the new applications allowed the client to provide the device to more than 200 stores without interruption of service.

In addition, the platform, written using commercial open source and off-the-shelf technology, allows for flexibility in software and platforms expansion and gave the client a non-proprietary platform for fielding additional applications and services in the future.

Intertech has been in business for nearly 30 years. Many of our projects are considered confidential by our clients. For this reason, and out of respect for our customer’s privacy, we do not mention companies by name regarding specific projects, with the clear understanding that the project outlined and presented is actual work Intertech and their consultants have completed successfully.

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Luis Camacho describes himself as “your friendly neighborhood full-stack engineer.” His goal? Making things more efficient and creating tools that make people’s lives better. That’s precisely what Luis has done since he joined Intertech in July of 2019. Previously he was a lead software engineer at Emerson, where he provided consultation for an in-house innovation team and overhauled the release process, saving more than 100 development hours annually.

 

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Sideline

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