By Rieva Lesonsky
Are you considering buying a new iPad for your small business? Maybe you already braved the crowds at an Apple store a few weeks ago, or perhaps you’re on the waiting list. If you’re still on the fence about buying an iPad (or iPads) for your business, check out this post I wrote last year about how companies are using iPads. Then read on for some newer ways I’ve heard of businesses are putting the tablets to use.
Restaurants and bars are using iPads to take orders, with the added bonus that the devices can display mouthwatering photos of dishes, plus full details about ingredients, so servers don’t have to keep all the details in their heads. They can also be used as point-of-sale tools, simplifying things even more.
Some eateries are going a step further and letting customers order on their own with iPads kept at tables. The StarTribune reports that Buffalo Wild Wings is one chain letting customers “play” with the devices while dining and drinking. The iPads let customers order when they want to—not when the server happens to come by—and have the added bonus of entertaining children, so parents can linger longer (and spend more money).
Salespeople are using iPads in the field to quickly call up product information or create estimates in settings where a laptop is too bulky to tote, but a smartphone doesn’t offer enough usability. For example, contractors on a job site can carry an iPad into the field to quickly display designs, blueprints or specs to clients on the fly.
iPads can be used to capture customer data, as yoga studio goodyoga does, according to this Mashable article. Instead of having customers fill out paper forms, which employees then have to input, customers simply fill out forms on the iPad. It’s fun for them and saves the staff time. This tactic can work for any business where customer intake is part of the process, such as a law firm, health club or consultancy.
Another use for iPads is customer entertainment. The same Mashable article cites nail salons using iPads instead of paper magazines for customers to read while having their mani-pedi or waiting for their nails to dry. The entertainment concept can work in any business where waiting is a factor—doctors’ or dentists’ offices, for instance. At this stage, there’s still a big “wow factor” with an iPad and just about anyone, child or adult, is excited to play with one, so offering clients the use of an iPad is a great way to keep them happy.
Finally, the new iPad boasts outstanding photo resolution and a great camera, so any business that’s visually oriented can find dozens of ways to use it. For instance, interior designers could use it to film and shoot photos of homes they’re decorating, then show their clients their proposed designs along with high-resolution photos of the products and fabrics they propose using. Realtors can take photos or videos of homes they’re selling and then display photos and video tours to clients in the field.
How many ways can you think of to use an iPad in your business?
Image by Flickr user Tatsuo Yamashita (Creative Commons)