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App attack: Are you tech-savvy?

Mobile technology simplifies business at the University of Waterloo


It’s 2015, and chances are, your smart phone is your lifeline, keeping you connected in all the right ways. But does it also serve as a business lifeline? If not, you may want to hear how Joanna Griesbaum’s iPhone helped open a new world of c-retailing opportunities.

Griesbaum has served as assistant manager of International News on the University of Waterloo campus for two years. Last year, she saw an opportunity for change, and didn’t hesitate to sign up for the mobile ordering app from her full-service distributor, Karrys Bros. Ltd.

Quick and easy

“I had it the very first day it came out in March,” says Griesbaum. “It popped up on my web page when I was ordering, and I had just gotten an iPhone, so I was all about these apps. It was also free, and I’m a very big penny pincher, so I said, ‘Sweet, might as well try it!’ And now I can’t imagine it any other way.”

Griesbaum says the ordering process is about as simple as it can get: a split screen comes up when you log in, with the option to either scan a barcode or enter the product UPC or ID. When the product information comes up, it includes the unit size, price, amount in stock, suggested retail price, and the margin you take in at that suggested price.

Reap the rewards

“One benefit is the consistency of product ordering. Before I had the app, I was writing everything down. Sometimes I wouldn’t write down the product size, and if we have two different sizes, I’d be getting random things I didn’t think I was ordering,” explains Griesbaum.


But the app doesn’t just simplify the ordering process. “We always have different sales and promotions going on. The app shows me right on the screen when a product is on sale. For example, if Jones Soda is on sale right now, I’ll do two bottles for $3, or something like that, because I know I can get it for that price.”

Help me help you

As a 24-hour campus operation, Griesbaum relies on about 20 part-time student employees, so coordinating these shifts can become a bit of an ordeal. But she says technology offers the perfect solution.

“It’s a little tricky, but with so many students on staff, they’re able to swap and switch shifts basically at any time. They just let me know via email, or if it’s a last-minute switch, they’ll phone or text or use Facebook. Communication is everywhere these days.”

3 things you can learn from Griesbaum: 

1. Try out the latest technology. If your sales rep offers you the chance to try out new technology, take it: streamlining your operations has never been more important.

2. Go mobile. Use your smart phone to make meaningful connections when you can’t be in store: update your Facebook page, communicate with reps, and research new products on the go.

3. Keep the lines open. Encourage your employees to stay in touch using the technology they know, like texts and Facebook messages.



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