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BRENTWOOD, Tenn. -- It's not often that convenience store operators come across a technology solution they would characterize as a "no-brainer." But that's exactly the way Brian Veasman, director of operations for MAPCO Express Inc., feels about the retailer's recent installation of Zenput.
San Francisco-based Zenput is a mobile app designed for retail employees who are out in the field visiting stores and need to fill out reports or audits to help their companies monitor execution. Via the cloud, field employees can not only fill out these reports, but also take photos on their IOS- or Android-enabled smartphone, as well as on an iPad. The app also features a GPS function so front-office executives can make sure employees are where they say they are when filing reports.
Brentwood, Tenn.-based MAPCO, a division of Delek US Holdings Inc., is the first multi-unit convenience store chain to implement the mobile app, according to Zenput CEO Vladik Rikhter. The chain began using the app on a free test basis in the fall when it wanted to determine how well it was executing on a sunglass endcap display rollout. MAPCO was impressed with the technology solution and fully implemented the app across its 375-store chain in January.
"When you roll out a new product or promotion, how do you find out that everything was done correctly?" Veasman questioned. "We had different methods of doing so [previously]. One of our favorite methods was sending everyone around to take a bunch of pictures with their phones, save them onto a file and then send them to an [administrator]. This took hours and hours of work. It was really cumbersome."
When a MAPCO manager came across Zenput and showed it to Veasman, the director of operations liked how many different tasks could be accomplished with just the one app.
"Everyone has to still take pictures, but when they do, they are automatically tagged to a store number," he explained. "We also know that employees are located where they say they are."
Man hours saved and reduced operations costs are Zenput's greatest strengths, stressed Veasman. "Everything is entered into your phone and it's done. It saves so many administrative hours. Employees only need to fill out one thing that goes to one central location," he said. "[Zenput] also recently added analytical data with pie charts and graphs that shows how people answer questions, so you can really dig into the effectiveness of whatever it is you want to measure."
MAPCO changes its promotional offers every two months and will use Zenput to analyze data for each of these offers moving forward. The c-store chain also plans to utilize the app to monitor store cleanliness standards and address loss prevention issues in the near future.
"We are adding so much stuff constantly. We can basically take [this app] virtually anywhere we want to take it. It makes life so much easier," relayed Veasman.
As for improvements the Zenput app could make, the operations director would like to track task completions so he can see which employees are on schedule to get their work done and who may need assistance in completing their reports.
But overall, Veasman is very pleased with the app. "It's rare you ever call anything a no-brainer," he concluded. "We're saving money, saving time and increasing execution. We really haven't found the downside to [Zenput] yet."