We’ve partnered with David Graham, Box Technologies’ Head of Managed Services, to bring you this piece on how you can manage an effective field force/successful deployment. We hope you find it useful.

David has been leading the Box Technologies managed services business division for the past 3 years with great success. He has successfully scoped, planned and deployed projects for some the largest high street retail rollouts in the country. These have been for brands such as Ladbrokes Coral Group, Poundland & the YUM Group (Pizza hut deliveries). Dave has overseen the year on year growth of our services business by circa 82% growth and in its peak we have been deploying over 60 stores a day for a multitude of customers across the UK, Ireland & Europe.

We sat down with Dave to discuss his top 10 tips for managing a successful field force/deployment and here is what he had to say……

  1. Planning – This for me takes the top spot and is the basis for any project approach that I undertake. I follow a couple of key methodologies within the planning phase and the first is “Planning at the customer’s level” but “deliver at store level”. What I mean by this is that there is a high level plan that is scoped in theory with our clients from experience & understanding, but ensuring that the detail is executed in practice when we look at the pilot phase’s & the rollout commences. The second theory is basic but incredibly fundamental to any successful project and that is the 3 R’s – right person, right product, and right time.
  2. Environmental Impact – I am always incredibly respectful of our clients environment policies. A prime example was a couple of years ago, I had a client who insisted that where possible we used public transport for all or part of the engineers daily commute to install to minimise the environmental impact. We always look at the most environmentally friendly solutions and always encourage our clients to consider appropriate re-sale, WEEE or D-Ban disposal.
  3. Leadership – The mantra of leading by example is one that I follow on a daily basis and the saying “There is no I in team” couldn’t be more important to a successful project. There will be times when all members of the team including myself may need to cover someone’s role or step into a situation for the greater good of the project
  4. Training – Training is fundamental to our engineering field force but converting the training into the client specific experience is the most important factor. I execute this by ensuring that no “Virgin engineer” attends a client’s site without shadowing an engineer who has carried out the deployment activity previously.
  5. Communication – We take a modern real time approach to communication both internally and externally for projects. The use of modern chat tools such as Whatsapp allows us to create an engineering community for each project where the team can share experience, ideas and media on their installs with the other team members. These tools also allow us to work with our clients teams in real time and avoid the inbox overload where we will only then share the agreed daily reporting with the client.
  6. Never overpromise but always deliver on your commitments – From my experience this is crucial to setting clients expectations at the scoping phase. We are always looking to innovate and stretch our services offerings but I will not commit to something that hasn’t been through operational testing.
  7. Adaptability – The reality of any retail project is that there is never a fixed blueprint & you will need to overcome unexpected challenges throughout the project. This can be as basic as at store level, where a specific operator is left handed so would like there receipt printer installed on the left hand side or there may be an operator that is partially sighted so requires an extra hour of training on the new system before our teams leave.
  8. Customer awareness – We work across retail, gaming, banking and hospitality projects which means we have a vast number of different store layouts, in different towns or shopping centres, that have different security, store opening times or staffing challenges and each one of our brands require us to understand their business before any deployment.
  9. People – Our people are our everything, and whether it is one of our staging team who is configuring the devices to our service delivery team processing the orders, or the project manager; they all play an important part in the success of the project. I ensure that all aspects of the business are aware of the client we are working for and what we need from them in order to be a successful project.
  10. Respect – Respect is earned and not given, and we always want to earn respect from our team members and our customers based on the project we have carried out for them. I think this particular point is a testament when a client comes back for the next project because then you truly have mutual respect for the role everyone has played.

Ensuring device uptime and performance with Intel and Box Technologies

As retailers transform their businesses to embrace multi-channel, digitally enabled ‘experiential’ retail concepts, they have the opportunity to look again at new device and maintenance service models.

This white paper looks at how Box Technologies is innovating in device maintenance using critical operational data produced by each device. The efficiencies of proactive maintenance vs. reactive or scheduled maintenance bring many benefits to retailers, including operational savings that directly impact the retailer’s bottom line. Using key data, the Box Technologies solution looks at a more holistic way of sustaining a retail business with minimal device downtime.

The connected nature of devices, not to mention increased device intelligence, paves the way towards a more proactive service model, one that reduces downtime and increases the longevity of valuable equipment.

 

Download Whitepaper

Author: Leonard Gilbert Wines
Role at Box: Technical Director
Contact us at Sales@Boxtechnologies.com

1.  Energy Consumption
A typical desktop commercial PC requires on average 300W to power the device, a Box retail hardened device would consume 65W. When you multiply the energy savings over an estate of devices, per year, you can start to gauge a sizeable TCO on energy spend & also carbon footprint. We have a TCO calculator available to demonstrate manufacturer TCO comparisons (Example below).

2.  Product Life Cycle
A typical non-retail hardened device will have a lifecycle of circa 18 months before the model is replaced or refreshed with new technology. This can have a negative operational impact due to the possible requirements for a new software build, PCI verification, supporting a mixed estate (spare parts & resource training) & the loss of investment into a peripheral ecosystem or specific shop fit around the device. A retail hardened device from Box Technologies will remain the same for a minimum of 7 years supply +2 years’ spares and on many occasions beyond this. We even provide the option of a 5 years supply +2 spares part for our Box manufactured mobility devices.

3.  Quality & Manufacturing Control
As we manufacturer all of our retail hardened devices within our company owned factory facilities, this provides the following unrivalled benefits total quality control on all components and processes from the start of product life cycle to the very last. We QC all components that are used within our manufacturing facilities to ensure these remain consistent during the life cycle. All of our products go through rigorous testing cycles such as thermal controlled soak testing, all sub-assemblies go through specific testing and even each product Box is weighed before shipment to ensure all the correct items are within. We adhere to the following ISO standards ISO-9001, ISO-14001, ISO-13485 & ISO-20771.

4.  Software Gold Build
If you change the model of your hardware, often you will need to pay your software provider to create a new hardware gold build, due to the change in the hardware architecture. This can be significant sums of money that can be avoided by selecting retail-hardened devices with a long product lifecycle.

5.  Warranty
As standard our Box retail hardened products come with a 5 year warranty and a commercial desktop would typically vary between 1-3 years & may not even have the option to uplift to 5 years. When investing into Box retail hardened devices you expect them to function beyond the 5 year warranty period & this also has a positive commercial impact on any maintenance contract you purchase.

6.  Processor Selection
Due to our long term close partnership with Intel we select processors from the Intel embedded channel, not from the Intel consumer channel. This embedded channel provides extended purchase availability for intelligent systems and embedded solutions. Those CPU’s are designed for extreme conditions over consumer CPU’s so are the right selection for retail hardened devices.

7.  Retail hardened components
Retail hardened devices are designed to be operated in harsh environments so the components selected from the touch screen down to the capacitors are selected in this way (this is why we can give a 5 year warranty for free).

Poly-fuses/thermal fuses are utilised throughout our retail hardened products, from powered ports to the main power supply, which ensures thermal spikes to happen without killing the system and these are not used in consumer grades PC’s.

8.  Retail Specific Ports
We use retail specific ports such as Powered USB/Serial & power connector ports for payment devices or printers. We also provide a cash drawer port directly on the terminal to reduce redundancy on receipt printers as a point of failure.

9.  Fan less and sealed design
Due to the lower power consumption we can design our products to be sealed and fanless, which makes them suitable for semi harsh environments which means that external air-borne elements such as lint & dust cannot access the unit.

10.  Windows Embedded OS
You can only use Windows LTSB or LTSC on embedded systems. This provides benefits such as up to date security patches without the unnecessary feature updates, embedded OS features. The embedded OS options are also on the extended roadmap from Microsoft (10 years support).

11.  Serviceability
Most of our retail hardened devices are designed to have service access, so the core components can be field serviceable this has a positive impact on device support & the cost of a maintenance service contract will be cheaper than for commercial products.

12.  Customisation
For our retail hardened devices we can create custom BIOS, Firmware & drivers across Windows, Linux & Android. We can also ensure that customer specific configurations are kept the same throughout the estate and delivered on every device purchased.

If you have any further questions on Box retail hardened devices please feel free to contact me on Leonard.Gilbertwines@Boxtechnologies.com or find me on Linkedin.

The kiosk industry is thriving with self-service kiosks in particular experiencing significant growth. Empowering customers to manage a variety of processes whether it’s ordering a meal, checking into a hotel or navigating the check-out at a supermarket, self-service kiosks have a role to play in a wide range of applications.

Reducing queues while encouraging greater customer engagement alongside providing an enhanced shopping experience and improved service efficiency, it would seem self-service kiosks are here to stay.  Moreover, in the current climate they are growing in prevalence as we socially distance, providing a contactless solution to ensure the safety of both staff and customers with touchless technology emerging as a key trend.

As the technology behind the kiosk printer evolves to keep in line with emerging trends, it is a pivotal component of the kiosk. Indeed, the printer is critical to the kiosk’s successful design and operation. A printer that jams or frequently runs out of paper renders the kiosk unusable and, negatively impacts the customer experience.  Even worse, it may result in the kiosk being offline more often than it is operating. Beyond the operational side, the role of the printer in a kiosk cannot be underestimated given the range of potential connectivity options that can enhance both its functionality and versatility.

Kiosk Design / Profile

With the printer being critical to the kiosk’s successful design and operation there are a number of factors to take into consideration.  First of all, the printer has to perfectly fit into the kiosk in order to maximise space and ensure optimal performance, particularly with regard to paper path.  Secondly, a high quality printer is essential to ensure the reliable functioning of the kiosk.  This is especially relevant in high volume applications where the printer is subject to continuous use and where faultless printouts of tickets, receipts, barcodes and graphics are demanded every time.

A further consideration is the type of kiosk printer, whether modular open frame or front-operating packaged.  Modular open frame printers offer a robust high performance solution especially for kiosks located outdoors, with highly-compact models ideal for limited space enclosures.  However, driven by their lower cost compared to the modular open frame printer as well as their ease to install, use and maintain the packaged printer has seen its profile rise, often successfully bridging the gap between a compact footprint and ease of use.

Hardware Features

Packaged printers are ideal for self-service kiosks where staff is physically present to replenish print media.  Most kiosk printers have a standard size paper holder and a large capacity option.  If frequent paper roll changes are required this can be time consuming so it is essential to choose a printer that has the correct paper roll capacity for the application. Furthermore, in a busy retail or hospitality environment, the front-operating packaged printer with drop-in paper loading provides a compact printing solution that facilitates easy paper roll changes.

The printer should be equipped with sensors and paper status alerts to notify when a kiosk is low on paper, has a paper jam or is offline.  These should ideally be centrally visible so the status of an entire estate of printers can be viewed to keep operations moving efficiently.  Moreover, a kiosk printer that supports digital receipts is an additional benefit and reduces paper consumption.

A printer with a horizontal orientation takes up more space while a vertical kiosk printer is better suited to a narrow width enclosure, taking up less space and leaving more room for additional components such as integrated scanners, chip and pin or RFID modules.

Printers can operate on a cut and drop basis or incorporate a presenter or bezel depending on the application. The presenter prevents paper jams caused by the paper being taken before printing is complete while the bezel is positioned between the kiosk slot and the printer in order to provide an exit path for the paper.

Communication

Easy to install and maintain, the packaged printer with a range of connectivity options can be the ideal solution for internet connected services.  Choosing a printer with a variety of interface options, including innovative Cloud technologies, enhances the kiosk’s printing capability. This is important as the type of interface and the ports the printer has will dictate how the printer communicates.

The rise in online ordering across multiple channels is resulting in greater demand for self-service kiosks for applications such as Click & Collect in-store orders and returns.  In order to meet this demand a printer that is equipped for remote printing of receipts and tickets directly from a web server to connected printers located anywhere is a key requirement.  Moreover, with remote functionality the printer can be managed from any location.

Reliable connectivity

Reliable connectivity is essential in a self-service kiosk. By integrating a printer with a built-in hub a compact, intelligent printing solution provides direct communication between the tablet OS and printer giving the developer the option to also show printer state detail on the screen, or just create events on the central management system.  Direct connectivity via the standard Apple Lightning cable or USB-C cable can be used to not only charge the tablet but also control the printer attached peripherals such as BCR, RFID reader, keypad etc. With direct cabled control of the printer and attached peripherals as well as Ethernet provision to the tablet from the wired Ethernet port of the printer, constant connectivity is assured.

Ease of integration

Kiosk development is time consuming so it is important to choose a printer that offers a solution now as well as in the future.  A comprehensive SDK and driver suite is essential for developers to simply integrate the printing solution particularly when working with multiple printers or a large network of kiosks. An experienced and knowledgeable integration team to support and advise regarding both hardware choice and software development is vital.

Take the headache out of your tablet device management by ensuring you select a fit for purpose solution, from the outset.

We’ve put together a tablet comparison table to show you the real difference between retail ready tablets and consumer tablets so you can be sure you’re making the right decision.

 

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