In 2015, CIOs said they spent an average of 57 percent of their total IT expenditure just on maintaining existing IT assets. As retail IT continues to play a larger role in stores, keeping it running continuously for customers can be a big expense. This is especially true when you consider that the retail environment is typically much harder on equipment than a traditional office building. But what can retailers do to save on maintenance costs while also mitigating downtime?
Instead of waiting for equipment to fail and being reactive to problems, you should be taking a preemptive approach to retail IT maintenance to prevent issues before they occur. This usually involves paying for a predetermined level of service according to a regular maintenance schedule. Because this may appear to cost more upfront, we’ll explain the business case for this approach, and show you four ways being preemptive can save you money over the entire life of the equipment.
Increase the Useful Life of your Retail IT
Just like conducting regular maintenance extends the life of a car, preemptive maintenance increases the useful life of retail IT. Small issues can be diagnosed and repaired before they grow into larger problems that bring the equipment down and require a full replacement. By extending the useful life, retailers have a longer opportunity to gain a return on their investment, can reduce the total cost of ownership and can limit costly one-off replacement purchases. And since there’s less need to spend on the existing equipment, retailers can look to allocate capital to new projects that have the potential to add more value.
Mitigate Downtime and Lost Revenue
Whether it’s your point-of-sale (POS) system or your digital signage, if your technology is down, it’s not bringing in revenue. Standish Group determined that every minute of POS downtime costs retailers an average of $4,700, and Avaya estimates that the average company loses about $140,000 per network downtime incident. Customers go into the store expecting a great experience, and if you fail to give them that, they may end up frustrated to the point where they walk out without purchasing. And when 58 percent of customers say they will never use a company again after a negative experience, anything that can help mitigate downtime and keep customers happy can result in major savings.
Limit Emergency Repairs
When equipment fails, a technician needs to be called to come in and do the repair. This emergency repair can end up being very expensive, especially if the technician needs to come in multiple times to diagnose the problem and then come back again to actually fix it. And because it’s reactive, the technician is only working on the one piece of technology, even though there may be other equipment in the store that needs maintenance.
Alternatively, a preemptive maintenance approach lets technicians come in at regular intervals according to a schedule. During these visits, they can adjust cables, clean printers, replace wearing parts or identify equipment that is near end of life. Similarly, the technician could add an extra hour to the end of each service call to conduct this preemptive maintenance as well. With this type of approach, you’re billed a flat rate according to your service agreement, and you’re not wasting a trip for something minor, such as a loose cable, that could have been caught during a regular check.
Improve Diagnostics with Connected Devices
As the Internet of Things and other connected devices continue to be adopted by retailers, identifying and diagnosing an issue will become far simpler. Let’s face it, your retail staff members aren’t trained to identify what’s wrong when retail IT fails. As a result, time and money is often spent on a service call trying to diagnose this issue, and then the technician has to return with the right tools or parts. But with automated technologies, the technician receives a report of what needs to be fixed, what tools to bring, and what part or replacement module is needed before arriving at the store, so they can show up ready to go. Plus, minor issues can trigger an alert so that the equipment is fixed during a regular service visit, well before the entire unit needs to be replaced.
Preemptive Maintenance Can Save Your Stores Time and Money
Because it’s based on pre-determined levels of service, a preemptive maintenance plan usually requires a higher upfront spend than simply being reactive to issues. But this doesn’t tell the whole tale. By extending the useful life of your equipment, mitigating costly downtime, limiting emergency service calls and improving diagnostics, retailers can reduce the total cost of maintenance and allocate that spending toward more strategic investments that improve the customer experience. Because when customers have so many choices, you need to make sure your technology is working when they’re in your store and ready to buy.