That’s a good question and one we get regularly here at FatStax. In this article, we’ll look at the two most common ways to manage POS collateral for business iPads.

A large multinational company, rolled out iPads to 2,000-plus sales and marketing people around the world in the summer of 2010.  When I met their Director of Marketing at trade show in Portland in November of 2010, she showed me how they were using iBooks to present and share collateral on their iPads. It all seemed so amazing then to have that ability for mobile selling.

A year later we met at the same trade show and I asked her how the iPads were being used. She expressed lots of frustration and told me that, for her team, things were not going well. In fact, based on a questionnaire at her Regional sales meeting less than 20% percent of her sales team were using their iPads during sales calls.


After the first few months, the team began to find that they didn’t have the most up-to-date brochures and presentations. She was sending regular updates to the team-via email. It turns out that individuals often forgot to plug their iPads into to iTunes to load the brochures into iBooks.

That resulted in situations where the right Sales collateral was unavailable on their iPads when they were in front of prospects. Salespeople don’t like to look dumb in front of customers, so most of them defaulted back to carrying printed brochures and left the iPads at home.

This leads to one our maxims for a successful iPad business application…

It has to be very easy to update POS collateral to the newest version for every team member.

This presents an opportunity for me to ask you check out our free ebooks Guide to Launching iPads — A great piece of learning material.

Successful iPad deployments accomplish this with web-based content management systems or “backends” that provide a single point of access to update POS collateral like files, manuals, videos, or product information and push it to the iPads.

For smaller companies, you may get by perfectly fine with desktop content management (you email collateral to the team, they install on their iPad), but for larger companies, this process will quickly break down leading to sales team frustration.

So let’s compare and contrast the two, so you can determine which is right for your team’s mobile initiative.

Simple Desktop Content Management for Basic iPad Apps

You can use these on individual computers to transfer POS collateral to the iPad app. Just plug your iPad in, turn on iTunes, and drag collateral to your iPad app. Examples include iBooks, GoodReader, and Dropbox, too.

Advantages of Desktop Content Management Systems for iPad POS Collateral:

  1. Low cost – these are basic content apps that let you see and access files. They are mostly free or < $15.00
  2. Small teams and individuals can update them quickly for individual reps it’s a pretty easy to update a few PDFs and presentations on their iPads.
  3. Simple to use – It’s pretty straightforward to open an email and open a PDF in iBooks, then save it to view later

Disadvantages of Desktop Content Management Systems for iPad POS Collateral:

  1. Users have to update themselves. Users have to sync and/or select collateral to sync to iPads. But, the reality is sales people sometimes do not plan ahead. So, if you’re constantly updating Dropbox or sending brochures via email and requesting that they be added to the iPads–you can forget it. The chances of the sales reps doing this regularly? Hovering near zero.
  2. No visibility. These systems usually don’t come with analytics, which is critical to determine the status of your team if you’re syncing and using collateral on the iPad.
  3. iTunes syncing is manual. You have to open collateral in email, drag it over to the desktop, plug the iPad into the computer, and download it to the iPad in the correct location. The odds of your sales team doing this? What’s your best guess?

Web-based Content Management Systems for iPad POS Collateral:

These systems enable you to have a single cloud-based location for all the Sales and Marketing Collateral. The administrator logs into a website and then adds collateral or product information. This gets pushed down to all iPad sales apps in your system at once.

The Advantages of Web-based Management Systems for iPad POS Collateral:

  1. Single point of management. You could use your iPhone to update your newest, hottest brochure, and the update will be pushed down to all your teams’ iPads.
  2. No need to rely on users to manually sync collateral. Some apps download new files automatically. There is no manual intervention required.
  3. Send notifications to users when collateral is added. Let them know it’s arrived on their iPads.
  4. Analytics allows you to see how your team’s using and syncing collateral. You can easily log in to a single point of access where you not only manage activity with your iPads but also see how the iPads are used to sync/view collateral and track customer information.

The Disadvantages of Cloud-based Management Systems for iPad POS Collateral:

  1. Initial cost to install and launch them. You get more features and pay for more features. They usually cost from $25-40 per user/per month.
  2. More complex for administrators. In order to make it simpler for users, sometimes you shift some tasks to administrators such as keyword tagging and updating the content manager.
  3. Another system to manage.Even with many of these CMS options offering integration with existing systems like Sharepoint or, the practical matter is that it still involves some management time.

In summary, look at the price of the system, your budget, and the size of your sales team before deciding which content management is best for your iPad business initiative. If you have one to three sales reps, maybe go with a free desktop-managed application. If you have 10-plus, consider a web-based content management system for better visibility of the team and access to its updates.