Remote Services in Retail – Faster Maintenance, Better Service?

© Mettler Toledo GmbH

Many malfunctions today can be resolved without having a technician on site in the store.

Retail hardware solutions are becoming more and more complex, and maintenance more elaborate –regardless of whether it is a checkout, a scale, a kiosk terminal or a mobile scanner. This also increases demands on manufacturer services. After all: the more complicated the application, the more often there are malfunctions. It’s a good thing that a lot of today’s equipment is interconnected. Remote service significantly simplifies service for retailers and manufacturers.

In the past, maintenance and service was manageable and concise for retailers and manufacturers. When a device no longer worked properly, it was returned to the manufacturer and repaired. In the case of larger equipment, the manufacturer sent a technician, who took care of the problem on-site. Regular equipment maintenance at a store worked the same way.

However, the fact that most equipment at a store today is interconnected makes faster and more direct troubleshooting possible. In the event of a software problem, many service and maintenance activities can be done without the need for a technician on location.

Diagnostics and preventive maintenance with remote services

The interconnectedness of a large part of modern retail technology makes it possible to complete many maintenance and service tasks via a secure data connection. This includes repairs as well as system and software updates and standard system monitoring. Usually, the technician is able to resolve the bulk of malfunctions via remote service. The advantage for the retailer is that he/she does not have to put up with any interference with daily store operations thanks to working service staff. And the manufacturer needs to maintain fewer service locations.

Comprehensive service package with individual customization

Retailers can make an individual selection from the respective range of services provided by the manufacturer and thus achieve a sensible connection with their own in-house support. Level 1 support by phone is oftentimes located in the retailer’s own facility. All advanced problem cases that level 1 support is not able to resolve, are then directly addressed to the manufacturer.
One example for efficient remote service is the German tea vendor TeeGschwendner, which uses combined checkout scale systems by Mettler Toledo in its 120 specialty stores. The scales are serviced at a central location and high availability of each individual scales is guaranteed. Remote services may include device management services and software updates pertaining to remote diagnostics and repair as well as preventive maintenance measures.

Remote equipment inventory management

Oftentimes a larger portion of total operating costs is allocated to the maintenance of equipment used at the stores versus its availability. This is why retailers can achieve particularly large savings with remote service in this instance. Especially for internationally operating retailers, equipment management can quickly become confusing. Central remote management including services and maintenance options can mean significant relief.

Terminal manufacturer Ingenico offers a solution for service management on location. Management of POS terminals is completely outsourced in this case. This solution enables retailers to fully manage POS terminals, remote installation of new terminals and remote operating system allocation services, specifications, applications and multimedia content via the cash register. The business intelligence aspect should also not be ignored in this; since you collect data anyway at this point, it is only a minor additional expenditure to obtain different statistics and plan and execute proactive services based on this information.
© Ingenico GmbH

Ingenico offers a fully outsourced management of PoS-Terminals with its solution for location management services.

Identifying problems before they arise

Of course the interconnectedness of retail technology doesn’t just have the benefit that maintenance and service jobs can be completed per remote service. “Preventive maintenance” also provides great relief for the retailer. Thanks to automated continuous monitoring of certain parameters, the manufacturer’s service center is able to already identify different reasons for functional disruption (such as expiring equipment approval for instance) before it happens and take corresponding measures or alert the retailer.

Integrated management for different models

Even though one-stop service has many advantages, numerous retailers have equipment that has been acquired over time. If not all of the devices are made by the same manufacturer, the need for special services and maintenance tasks is automatically becoming more complicated of course.

There is one advantage however: at this point, a lot of equipment used in retail is based on the widely used operating systems by Microsoft (Windows), Google (Android) and Apple (iOS). This is why this year Honeywell for example launched the first integrated mobility and scanning device management software with Remote MasterMind 3.0 (ReM 3.0). Via a web console, the software offers integrated management for Honeywell’s own barcode scanners as well as windows-based mobile devices and popular Smartphones and tablet PCs with the Google Android or Apple iOS operating systems. This way, virtually all device management tasks (resource monitoring, software distribution, configuration management as well as diagnostic monitoring and remote access control) can be performed from one central location, by which total operating costs can be significantly reduced.

Network maintenance services – less work for the retailer

Remote maintenance and service therefore doesn’t just provide financial relief for retailers; time and effort for management, maintenance and repairs also decrease significantly. Store associates receive quick help if support is needed, since many errors are simply software related and can be resolved without having a technician on location at the store. This way, downtimes are shortened or – in the case of working preventive maintenance – even entirely avoided.

Daniel Stöter, EuroCIS.com

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