Close your eyes. Imagine there’s a store that can automatically detect common problems, such as network downtime, POS failures, or device malfunctions. Instead of calling a technician and waiting for them to diagnose the issue, order parts, and return to fix it, the store can leverage automated processes to rapidly solve the problem without the need for any human intervention.
What would that mean for store associates and IT staff, who could spend more time focusing on customers and store performance? How would your IT budget look if you could save money on support and allocate more money to strategic initiatives? And how would that benefit your customers, who could go into your stores assured they were getting the best experience every time?
Open your eyes, because it’s not just a dream. Advances in automation have made this vision a reality, and the Self Healing Store™ will become the backbone of physical stores for years to come as retailers continue to introduce new technology to improve the customer experience and drive new revenue.
Automating IT Support to Improve Store Performance
The pressure is increasing on IT departments to keep stores up and running. Any downtime, issue or malfunction has the potential to become a major problem that costs the retailer in both sales and customer loyalty.
But ensuring store uptime is expensive. A recent survey found that IT executives spend 57 percent of their total IT expenditure just on maintaining existing assets. The time, money, and effort required for maintenance and support can strain small IT teams and take resources away from strategic initiatives, such as implementing new technologies and integrating digital and physical channels together.
Fortunately, endpoint automation and lightweight monitoring applications are changing the way retailers approach support and repairs. When these applications are installed on devices, the store can proactively and automatically detect, diagnose, and in many cases, resolve unexpected issues without requiring store staff or technician intervention.
For example, if the network is down, the system can automatically detect the loss of connectivity and execute a series of checks and actions to remediate the issue. Similarly, the POS application can be reset and all peripherals checked to make sure they are working properly. These are the most common incidents for large stores, and resolving them as quickly as possible is critical to your bottom line.
The system can also handle pre-emptive and regularly scheduled maintenance to further reduce the burden on IT departments. Tasks such as checking security configurations, system states, or critical application minimal requirements can be automated, and the system can flag small issues for repair before they grow into full-fledged emergencies.
Diagnosing and Triaging Incidents Before Technicians Arrive
While many common issues can be solved through automation, sometimes a real person is required. However, not all issues require the same level of service. Take, for example, a printer failure. It may be as simple as resetting the device. Or it may require a new part. Or it may need to be replaced completely.
Or, as is often the case, it may just have become unplugged over the course of the day. Calling a technician in this scenario can be expensive and ultimately unnecessary.
The Self Healing Store is able to diagnose the problem, and if it can’t be solved automatically, send a notification to the relevant user. The system can triage issues and dispatch technicians in the background, all without any interaction from the store staff. This way, technicians are only called if they are required to fix the problem, and they can arrive on-site with the tools, parts, or replacement units required the first time. In cases where an issue can be solved remotely, an engineer can access the device from a central location, further limiting the need for expensive service calls and getting the equipment repaired more quickly.
Making the Most of In-Store Technology
Retailers have invested heavily in new technology, but when it’s not working, it’s not bringing in revenue. The biggest advantage of taking an automated approach to store maintenance is that issues can be resolved much more rapidly. When a single minute of POS downtime can cost $4,700, and network downtime can cost an average of $5,600 per minute, this is absolutely essential.
A pre-emptive and automated approach also reduces the number of incidents that happen in the first place, and mitigates their impact when they do occur. Stores that have taken this approach have seen overall issue reduction starting at 20 percent.
Finally, automating repairs and support allows retailers to allocate their resources more effectively. Store associates can spend more time with customers and less time attempting to fix technology, while IT departments can shift their attention and resources away from everyday break/fix requests and toward more strategic initiatives and technology implementations.
Retailers are constantly balancing the need to innovate with the need to keep existing channels profitable. By modernizing operations and adopting advanced incident resolution, retailers can efficiently mobilize the right people in real time, protect their brand and revenue, successfully manage their assets, and rapidly deliver new product innovation. Because when a store is able to heal itself, you’re better equipped to provide a great experience.
Need to know more about the Self-Healing Store, visit us at NRF 2018 to see it in action.