Year-End Mobile Device Strategies for Retailers
It’s common for retailers to be faced with an important decision surrounding their budgets, particularly at the end of the year: how to strategically spend their unplanned technology budget surplus. Using these end-of-year funds is important as excess appropriated capital is often unavailable the following year. Even worse, if budgets are underspent or overshot due to a lack of thoughtful planning, managers could see smaller allocations the next budget cycle.
The desire to “zero out” this budget has some companies scrambling to find creative and effective methods to deploy the remaining balance in the fourth quarter. Here are six helpful tips to help you spend your end of year budget wisely.
#1: Consider Renting for Short-Term IT and Mobile Device Needs
A great way to use end of year budget dollars effectively is to rent equipment during peak retail season. This is a great option if you have a smaller budget or if you do not want to purchase equipment that is only needed for a short time. Renting mobile devices offers an excellent way to save on costs, while offering end users technology they’ll need over a three- to four-month rush. It’s not uncommon for retailers to purchase equipment to support the peak season only to have that equipment sit unused for the rest of the year. With the appropriate measures in place, renting mobile equipment will allow retailers to meet peak demands without spending a large chunk of their budget.
#2: Support Special IT Projects or Initiatives
If you are planning strategic initiatives at the distribution center, warehouse or within retail store locations, consider your mobile equipment needs. This is an excellent time to purchase and stage new equipment. When ready to deploy to the field, activation will be much easier as you’ve had ample time to test, customize and create a plan for full scale deployment. Come budget and project planning season, gaining favor from internal stakeholders will be easier as you’ll have hard evidence of benefits from using new units, how the solution works in your current environment and the costs of deployment.
#3: Demo Equipment to Support Long-Term IT Strategy
Often, companies have a strategic equipment plan in place but are not quite ready to fund the purchase of the new devices. Using surplus budget to fund a small pilot may be advantageous. You can test performance in your environment, determine how employees will adapt to these new mobile devices and ascertain whether they are compatible with their current infrastructure. If you fall into this category, you could allocate a portion of your surplus to purchase and field test prospective devices and check compatibility with your current equipment or network.
#4: Talk to your Mobile Device End Users
Sometimes there is a disconnect between what a company wants and what its end users need. Now is the time to talk to distribution centers and retail store employees to see what they need as they head into the busy holiday season. Are any of their devices down all too often? Have any equipment requests gone unfilled or are they often waiting on devices to be repaired? Are they experiencing any issues that a strategic end of year expenditure could solve? Now might be an opportune time to send a quick survey to capture their thoughts to help guide your decision.
#5: Repair Those Mobile Devices Collecting Dust
When speaking to our retail customers, it became very clear that there are almost always a few devices that are sitting on the shelf collecting dust because they aren’t working properly. The decision to repair those devices now is a great way to not only prepare for the busy holiday season but also give you the opportunity to start off the new year with an optimized, working install base of mobile devices. These expenditures works in either feast or famine – as more devices will create greater uptime and having them repaired is extremely cost effective.
#6: Invest in Mobile Device and Technology Accessories
Often devices are functioning properly but are unusable because of the lack of juice. A great way to use your end of year budget dollars wisely is to organize and stock up on all the appropriate accessories so your team has them when you need them. Don’t let your devices die because of lack of power; use the available dollars to grab a few extra batteries, charging stations and cables for your team. Eventually, you’ll need things like back-up holsters, sleds, media, etc. Buying now is a relatively inexpensive way to avoid any downtime issues. Truly a great, inexpensive way to keep devices up and running.
Use It or Lose It
Having a strategic mobile technology budget plan helps retailers move more products, improve the customer experience, and capture critical customer information. Companies looking to efficiently spend their end-of-year budgets, have a variety of creative ways to invest in technology and stretch capital that might otherwise go to waste. Companies should consider using this time of year to focus on future planning, assessing service and equipment maintenance contracts, and exploring equipment buyback programs, as each of these areas can save on equipment costs.
As the Marketing Manager, Mark is the leader of Carlton’s global marketing efforts and digital strategy.