Barcode Services/Repair

Repair vs. Replace: Should You Hold on to Old Barcode Scanners and Printers?

The barcode scanning and printing equipment used in most warehouses was built to last – in many cases, these devices are still operating five or even 10 years after their initial deployment. Over time, these old barcode scanners and printers begin to break down or become obsolete as new features and functions are introduced on newer models.

The question then becomes: should you keep that older equipment and have it repaired, or is time to replace the hardware?

To answer that question, it’s important to evaluate your old barcode printers and scanners within the context of your application. Does the hardware still do everything you need it to? Have your application requirements, customer requirements, or other elements changed over time?

It’s important to have the right technology in place in order to maintain optimal performance in the warehouse.

The Case for Replacement

Replacing your old barcode printers and scanners can generate a number of benefits, depending on your circumstances. While there is an upfront capital expense (in addition to time spent evaluating new device), replacing hardware can:

  • Improve productivity by reducing downtime caused by failing or faulty devices
  • Improve efficiency by providing users with new features/functions
  • Increase profit margins by instituting new applications and services that are enabled by higher-powered or more functional barcode equipment. Newer devices can improve delivery, inventory management, and other real-time systems.

If you do replace your barcode hardware, make sure you purchase devices that are rugged enough to operate in your warehouse environment. Purchasing lower quality equipment to save money will ultimately wind up costing you more in replacement devices, repair costs, lost productivity and expensive downtime.

The Case for Repair

If your old barcode printers and scanners are still operational and useful, or if a full-scale replacement project is not within your budget, then a repair strategy can help extend the life of the equipment.
There are still costs associated with repairs, but a well-managed repair program can help improve application performance. Benefits of repairing hardware include:

  • Cost savings by having repair done in-house by properly trained maintenance and IT staff. If you have a knowledgeable staff, they can quickly remedy any problems with minimal downtime and no extra fees.
  • Repairs can be conducted quickly on-site.
  • If you utilize a third-party repair resource, they can often provide fully configured replacement devices for your employees while the original devices are repaired. This further minimizes downtime and improves productivity.

Most rugged manufacturers do not allow customer-provided service because the repaired device may no longer uphold the high standards and specifications of the original device.   For this reason, only certified repair centers should be used.

However, if repairs become frequent enough to affect efficiency and productivity, you aren’t really saving any money by putting off replacement. Eventually, the cost of downtime, spare parts, and repair will exceed the cost of buying new hardware.

Regardless of whether you have older equipment or are investing in new devices, it’s important to have a good barcode hardware repair plan in place. Value-added resellers and integrators offer a variety of repair and maintenance plans. omniQ, for example, provides flexible service contracts that include depot repair, replacement devices, and repair history visibility via its iTrack Software.  This allows options for repair management with the high standards upheld for the needed operations.

The decision to repair or replace your old barcode scanners and barcode printers will depend on the equipment and your application needs. In either case, ensure that you have the right equipment for the job. Even if your current hardware is still working just fine, if the equipment is holding you back or impeding productivity, it might be wise to invest in new devices.


How Custom Ordering and Service Portals Streamline Supply Chain Device Management

As anyone with a mobile computing or automatic identification technology system knows, the implementation process doesn’t end when the hardware gets into your employees’ hands. Once equipment is in the field or in the warehouse, there are a host of support, maintenance, and repair issues to consider – not to mention new deployments. Custom ordering and support portals address that need quickly and efficiently by providing a central, online conduit for requesting repairs or ordering new equipment.

Custom portals, which provide customer-specific web pages for ordering and support, help integrators and value-added resellers provide prompt, fast, and reliable support when hardware is damaged or needs an update. New orders can be selected from a pre-approved list of specific kits that contain the exact equipment a site might need.  On-line service support can eliminate the problems of manual or ad hoc support services that force users to call a support line, initiate a chat session, or send their request through a supervisor who then contacts the reseller.

Making things more complicated, companies that have deployed a variety of equipment from different suppliers may need to contact a mix of resellers or hardware manufacturers to resolve a problem.

The “Easy Order” Solution

For example, omniQ has created a number of “Easy Order” online purchasing portals, unique to specific customers, which can access a catalog of handheld scanners, batteries, cables, printers, and other accessories specific to their installation and at agreed-upon pricing levels.

Each page can be broken out by different terminal configurations to match the right accessories to the specific site needs. Pages can also be configured to view all hardware suppliers/products.

omniQ then handles all the individual hardware ordering, as well as kitting/staging and commissioning of the equipment prior to shipment. Orders can easily be tracked online via the portal.

Service Portal

omniQ has created customer-specific support portals.  Customers can submit service requests via their dedicated web interface. omniQ then works with the original manufacturer to to repair the equipment, or performs the repairs themselves. Alternately, the hardware can be completely replaced. Inventory can be tracked according to serial number and the location of deployment or the state of the repair process.

How Partnering with a Company with a Custom Ordering Portal Helps Your Business 

Working with a reseller or integrator that offers these types of custom web portals can help improve the long-term success of a mobile computing deployment in a number of ways:

1. Internal IT staff can leverage the custom ordering portals to help streamline hardware ordering processes, and enable a level of self-service for managers and employees. This takes some of the workload off IT and purchasing departments that are already stretched thin.
2. Companies can be confident that they are ordering the right hardware and accessories at the right price.
3. Service interactions are more efficient because the catalog information in the custom ordering portals can be used to properly identify the hardware and communicate the problem to support personnel.
4. Inventory position can be tracked for each serial number between the customer and the partner and service locations

Custom portals can make it easier for companies to manage their mobile computing deployments by providing a central point to handle both service requests and new product orders. Service requests can be linked to existing customer service/maintenance agreements, and new product orders can be automatically created, kitted, and billed at the right price — with minimal effort on the part of the customer.

Maintenance, service, and support are inevitable. Choose a provider that makes it as easy and efficient as possible to maximize uptime and keep your business running efficiently and productively.


The Importance of Staging and Kitting Services

Large mobile deployments can be expensive and complex to orchestrate. The last thing anyone wants to see when their mobile hardware arrives on site is that there is “some assembly required.” Loading software, adjusting network settings, and connecting peripherals can take a significant amount of time for even just one computer; think about the amount of time it would take to do so for hundreds of mobile computers. That’s why staging and kitting services are an important part of the value your value added reseller (VAR) can offer.

When mobile devices arrive on site, you want to be able to deploy them immediately, not wait for days while the IT department struggles to test each device, load the software, and confirm that the system is operational. Your VAR can save you time, labor, and money by staging and kitting all mobile devices and associated equipment for you, prior to delivery.

omniQ, for example, offers full staging and kitting services via our Professional Services organization.

Staging services include pre-configuring and/or testing the solution before shipment. This helps ensure a smooth installation and even accelerates the installation process. Hardware settings can be preconfigured prior to delivery. Application loading and configuration in advance can reduce network defects, ensure host connectivity is correctly configured, and help isolate any problems encountered during deployment to the existing infrastructure.

omniQ can pre-configure the wireless profile, security settings, device lock-down settings, Telnet configuration, browser configurations, and other settings that will not only make it easier to deploy the initial hardware, but also make it easier to swap out replacement devices if there is a hardware failure in the future.

By testing customer applications in advance, we can help ensure end-to end connectivity and minimize the amount of time at the customer site by providing hardware that is ready to go out of the box. That saves cost and time for the end user.
omniQ also offers full kitting services so that each end user can be provided with an entire set of mobile hardware, including all cables, printers, and accessories. By pre-packaging the equipment for each site, companies reduce their chances of misplacing equipment and ensure all parts are available for installation and commissioning.

Kitting helps speed deployments, reduces shipping mistakes when a large amount of hardware is being sent to multiple sites, and can reduce shipping costs by grouping items into more condensed or fewer packages.

omniQ can also customize device and box labels, and begin the process of logging and tracking each piece of hardware in the deployment in compliance with the customer’s internal asset management processes.

Mobile technology is designed to improve efficiency and productivity. The physical deployment of your mobile hardware shouldn’t bog down the IT department by forcing them to spend multiple days loading, configuring, and testing devices. By leveraging the type of staging, kitting, and testing services offered by VARs like omniQ, you can quickly launch your mobile solution, minimize technical problems during deployment, and keep your internal IT staff focused on more mission-critical activities.

Barcode Field Sales and Delivery Route Accounting Services/Repair

Can Presales and Merchandising Solutions Improve Customer Service

When it comes to customer service, the success of a direct store delivery (DSD) operation is typically gauged by timeliness, order accuracy, and the DSD company’s ability to reduce both out-of-stocks and shrink/spoilage or returns.

But DSD companies may be missing an opportunity if they aren’t leveraging presales and merchandising solutions to boost performance with their customers.

Presales and merchandising aren’t just informal fishing expeditions. The presales process should be as well documented as the final sales transaction so that companies can get a better idea of what is and isn’t working in the field. On the merchandising side, data about promotions can help identify new sales opportunities and improve inventory accuracy.

More importantly, managers can glean valuable real-time data on customer purchasing patterns as well as promotions effectiveness through these efforts. Using presales and merchandising solutions can be an important tool to help improve customer relationships by offering more informed sales offerings.

Presales generally includes a number of activities, including a discovery process in which the sales rep learns more about the customer’s requirements or problems, developing tailored presentations about new products and coming up with prices or a formal sales proposal for the customer. In a retail store, all of these steps can happen in a matter of minutes after the sales rep spots an opportunity.

For example, a sales rep or delivery driver might notice that a customer is out of stock for a competing or ancillary product, or might take note that inventories related to an upcoming promotion are unusually low.

Presales and marketing solutions should include the ability for the DSD driver to capture pricing of competitive products, provide sales analytics for the customer that can be viewed right at the retail location, provide data that can better position your company to capture new sales through competitive service and pricing, and allow reps to generate dynamic sales proposals in the store.

Using a rugged mobile computer, sales reps can scan and capture competitive pricing information, manage shelf inventory, and take pictures of merchandising displays to ensure store compliance. With the right technology in hand, sales reps can easily access and share critical information about promotions, up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, and make sure inventory is aligned with marketing initiatives.

With an automated presales and merchandising solution, reps can access customer information and purchasing history to help guide add-on sales of products they may be running low on. If they see a competitive product on the shelf, they can find out if there are any promotions or discounts available to possibly get the customer to switch vendors.

All of this can create better overall service by helping the customer understand how they can boost sales in certain categories, get a better price on merchandise, and avoid being out of stock in fast-moving SKUs.

Your retail customers are thirsty for information that can help them increase their margins. By leveraging presales and merchandising solutions, you can help them make the right decisions about inventory and promotions and establish yourself as a trusted partner whose products will take priority on the shelf.


4 Ways to Get the Most out of Legacy Technology

Technology is evolving quickly — more quickly than the life-cycle of most rugged, enterprise mobility solutions. But just because your current mobile deployment may be a few years old doesn’t mean it can’t keep delivering productivity and efficiency benefits.

In fact, it’s possible to extend the useful life of your legacy technology solutions and improve their performance, while simultaneously laying the groundwork to upgrade and take advantage of new solutions when your budget and schedule allow.

Here are four tips for getting the most out of your legacy mobile solutions:

Assess Your Current Infrastructure: Evaluate your legacy systems, identify their support costs, and determine the benefits they add to the organization. Focus on value. If the cost of supporting the solution outstrips the value provided, it may be time to replace the system. If not, then your legacy technology is still generating benefits for the organization.

Keep the Technology up to Date: Work with your vendor or integrator to make sure that all of your hardware and software systems have the latest updates and patches. If you have an existing service contract with your legacy technology providers, then that may already be taken care of. If not, then invest some time and a little money in bringing the firmware and software up to date. That will likely fix any glitches you may be experiencing, but with less cost than an outright system replacement.

Evaluate Complementary Technology: Just because your current solution may not meet all of your emerging needs doesn’t mean you need to rip it out and purchase a more all-encompassing alternative. If your work order management solution is reliable and effective but doesn’t provide automated dispatching capabilities, a GPS-based fleet solution can be bolted on. A warehouse management solution can be integrated with a voice-based picking or a warehouse control system to boost features and functions. New hardware or additional third-party software can bring your legacy technology up to date with less cost and disruption.

Develop a Strategic Roadmap for Your Legacy Systems: Eventually, you will need to upgrade or replace aging technology. Take a long view of what you want your technology infrastructure to look like in five or ten years. What technology platforms or operating systems should be standard? Do you want to move to cloud-based solutions? Are you planning to develop your own applications or purchase off-the-shelf solutions? That plan can help you budget for future investments and help you determine which legacy solutions are worth continued support. For those that may be “aging out” of their useful life, a long-term plan can help ease the transition with minimal disruption to your operations.

Legacy technology is often viewed as a drag on business productivity, but in some cases this is more perception than reality. Measure the value the solution still provides before calling for a complete overhaul. Some of these systems just need an upgrade, or they can be augmented with additional modules or third-party software. For companies with limited IT staff and tight budgets, or for those with more pressing technology priorities, these strategies can help extend the life of existing solutions while still providing benefits to the business.


omniQ: A Partner for Partners and Customers

Partnerships can be a tricky thing.  Like any relationship, there must be some give and take; there must be mutual benefit for both sides.  Although each and every partnership is unique, there are a few keys that should be followed in order to ensure your business relationships are successful:

1. A willingness to listen and understand goals, both spoken and unspoken – For any relationship to be successful, listening is key and having common goals is a requirement.  Any time a partnership gets too one-sided in terms of who is in control, that partnership is not healthy.

2. Knowing the strengths each side brings to the table and where extra support can be helpful – Overstepping boundaries is never a good thing, especially if the boundary you are stepping over is something you have little expertise in.  Try to leave the decision making to the most qualified people, but be willing to offer your assistance when it is needed.

3. A desire to let the other party shine, bringing their best capabilities forward, and allowing growth – Partnerships are meant to be symbiotic – meaning that they are beneficial to all involved parties. Doing your best to help your partners succeed will better position them to give you success as well.

That’s not a marriage counseling blurb – that’s good business.

omniQ strives to build those types of relationships with our partners and with our customers.  We approach each solution, not just as a method to make sales, but as an opportunity to meet customer and partner goals for mutual success.

At the start of a project, especially the major ones, we’ll map out a Responsibilities Matrix, where each role is identified so no steps are missed and each company in the project knows how they can help.  This is not simply and action list of “to-dos” but an opportunity to ensure each party is clearly defining how they can participate in the mutual success.

This is often more important than it initially sounds.  However, it must be clear who is taking the roles for project management, sales of components (hardware, network and software), services (repair, support, installation, and staging) and defining success criteria.

This is a general approach also to partners.  Some companies specialize in certain aspects, like application development for a specific vertical market.  They may not have the device and network technology expertise, integration, site installation, deployment management, mobile device management, or support capabilities that omniQ can bring to the offering.  Other partners have some of these capabilities but are missing just a few.  Sometimes customers will have resources to do some parts of the job themselves.   That means that the partner can do what they do best, and make sure our joint customers have everything they need for a complete deployed and managed solution.

omniQ is proud of our extensive services.  We are happy to bring in partners to add more capabilities.  We are excited to help partners use our expertise to enhance their portfolios.  We are happiest when we have repeat customer success and long-term relationships with the partners and customers.  In that way, we become a true partner to the partners and customers.


Why omniQ? Long-Term Commitments with Trusted Advisors

Some decisions, like those for short-term goals, can be made quickly; others require much thought and plenty of consideration for the long-term benefits.

When I need to buy a small, inexpensive item, I can go online or visit a local store and make the purchase immediately.  For larger purchases and investments – a house, for example – I conduct a thorough analysis in order to ensure I’m making the best decision.

With the exception of marriage, perhaps the greatest and most important relationships come from jobs.  A bit over a year ago, I decided to search for a new job.  My company and position at the time were both very good, but I wanted a change that would allow me to expand my horizons technically, professionally and personally.

I chose omniQ, and there are a variety of reasons why you should choose them as well, at least for your solution needs.

I knew the folks at omniQ for many years.  They are trusted in this industry and have earned the respect of peers and competitors.  I knew the company was filled with good people with impressive knowledge, experience, and competence.  The company personality was right for me – large enough to have resources to tackle large jobs, yet small enough to be focused on caring for each customer.

The breadth and depth of their abilities crossed vertical markets, from leadership in transportation and logistics, to retail, warehousing, manufacturing, healthcare and others.   They had all the required components for a successful company:  an experienced and energetic sales team, an outstanding professional services organization, an efficient staging/kitting/support group, a seasoned development group with expertise in the latest platforms, and a strong legacy.

After a whole year of working at omniQ, I am still impressed with how well our customers are cared for.  It is a long-term relationship where we are not just resellers; we work extremely hard to earn the role of “trusted advisor.”  We’ve coordinated multi-national deployments, managed networks, developed critical user software in Windows, Android and iOS environments, developed custom integrated hardware platforms with latest technologies, streamlined service and support, and have even been brought in to analyze the overall application architecture used in a client’s daily operations.

The central reason for this success is the people.  omniQ isn’t just trying to make a quick buck; we seek to provide a complete solution for a long-term relationship of mutual success.   This has done well for our customers because we keep the relationship for years, and we are often brought in on new projects up-front so we can bring our forward-thinking approach to meld technology trends into operational and financial solutions.

My role, by the way, is to develop our partnerships with key software providers to expand the solutions portfolio.  This means that omniQ is always ardently looking for new ways to help our customers, sometimes in ways they don’t expect.

I’m happy with my decision to start a relationship with omniQ; we really do have a terrific team in place.  I expect we’ll have many more happy customers, especially as omniQ continues to grow.  If you are looking for a long-term relationship with a trusted advisor, you should consider omniQ too!


Solution as a Service: What Is It and What Are Its Benefits?

Cloud computing has rocked the world of IT, completely changing how businesses manage their infrastructure and software. Now, a new development in the market is emerging, known as Solution as a Service. It too is geared to drastically impact how businesses operate.

What is Solution as a Service?

Solution as a Service is a top-tier concept. The first tier is infrastructure as a service, where third-party providers host computing resources. The next step is platform as a service, in which a third-party provides a platform upon which businesses can manage, run, or build web applications. Next up is software as a service, which allows businesses to access software through the cloud.

Solution as a Service is a step beyond software as a service. It provides businesses with the hardware, software, and knowledge necessary to manage effectively. Solution as a Service is, as the name implies, a complete solution. Its simplified subscription service empowers businesses with a comprehensive support team, taking the worry and stress out of management.

What are the Benefits of Solution as a Service?

Cost Effective

With Solution as a Service, businesses pay a set monthly fee for the entire solution. Instead of paying multiple vendors or trying to manage part of the solution in-house, businesses only have one bill to pay. The contractual nature of the subscription also allows businesses to budget for the monthly expense—with no hidden fees or unexpected IT support charges.

Reduced Risk

Any large investment that your business makes can spell risk. However, Solution as a Service mitigates that risk. Rather than investing time and money into an IT overhaul, only to have major headaches with the new technology, you can change, upgrade, downgrade or cancel your Solution as a Service—at any time. This can bolster your company’s confidence, knowing you aren’t locked into any single technology. With the increasingly short lifecycle for technology, you can also be assured that you won’t be investing big bucks into technology that will soon become obsolete.


Businesses are never stagnant, so why should their solutions be? Your Solution as a Service provider will only charge you for what you need. You won’t have to guess what your needs will be in five years; you can simply select the option that fits your current needs, and make adjustments as your business changes.


Because your provider is in control of the entire solution, you can be confident that the technology will be well managed. The support team that stands behind the solution is one of the greatest benefits of selecting a Solution as a Service option. IT support is included in your monthly subscription, so you won’t have to employ an entire tech-support team in-house. This also prevents the expensive charges associated with outsourcing tech support on an as-needed basis.

Relieve the stress associated with implementing new technology. Instead, you can put your trust in a total Solution as a Service provider. Their intimate knowledge of the tech allows them to completely manage the solution, while your business pays a simple monthly subscription that’s tailored to fit your needs. Solution as a Service is truly a revolutionary idea, poised to change how businesses manage their IT needs.


4 Ways a SaaS Offering Saves Your Business Money

Are you pouring money and manpower into setting up and maintaining IT infrastructure, despite the fact that it’s not a part of your core business functions? Well there’s an emerging trend that may relieve all those frustrations—Solution as a Service (SaaS). SaaS is a comprehensive approach to how businesses manage their IT. Instead of grappling to manage everything in-house, SaaS providers offer the hardware, software, and support staff to completely manage your IT needs. Solution as a Service is a subscription based method, and with it comes a variety of cost-savings.

How Can SaaS Save Your Business Money?

1. Flexibility

With SaaS, you can create a customized solution to meet the needs of your business. You only have to pay for what you need with a fixed monthly cost. If your business needs change, you have the option to adjust your SaaS offering, so you never over pay. It can be difficult for businesses to predict their IT needs for the upcoming years, so this option takes the guesswork out of selecting an IT solution.

2. Fixed Monthly CostAs opposed to traditional IT implementation, there’s no large upfront fee for the hardware or software licensing. Instead, you’ll simply pay the agreed upon monthly subscription costs. Because of the contractual nature of SaaS, there won’t be any unexpected expenses—keeping you on budget year-round. If there’s an issue or problem, you have a full support staff on call, which is all included in the monthly costs. Plus, SaaS providers typically offer upgrades as a part of the contract. This prevents you from paying for new hardware or software updates, and the frequent upgrades will ensure your business stays secure and up-to-date on the latest technology—a clear competitive advantage.

3. No Need to Hire an IT Team

Forget about worrying about finding a strong support staff. There’s no need to hire full time IT staff or manage a third-party support team. With one vendor, you’ll have access to everything you need for your application. Any in-house IT staff can be turned towards other projects or applications, improving productivity. This greatly reduces your costs and makes management much simpler.

4. More Efficient Deployment Process

The entire process of implementation is more efficient with Solution as a Service—from initial deployment to adding new users or modules. Firms no longer need to acquire hardware and find compatible software—which is a time-consuming process in itself—only to have to spend time and money installing, testing, and training. SaaS providers can implement a preconfigured, turnkey solution. This method also allows the solution to be deployed incrementally. More users, more sites, and more features can be added as you choose, allowing a controlled implementation process that facilitates easy training.

A strong IT infrastructure is critical, but it shouldn’t break the bank. With SaaS offerings, your business can benefit from all the features of an in-house IT infrastructure, without the costs. Lower up front expenses, fixed monthly costs, no additional staff, and an efficient deployment process will save your company money from the very beginning—plus you’ll have exactly the technology you need to stay ahead.


The Value of Professional Services

Deploying mobile computing and data collection solutions is a complex undertaking. Companies that attempt to self-manage these implementations by buying hardware and pushing it out to end users often find themselves sitting on a storeroom full of useless devices within the year.

Your value added reseller or integrator should be more than just a hardware supplier. Leading resellers also offer professional services that can range from solution design and device selection, to software provisioning, mobile device management, and a variety of post-implementation support activities.

Choosing an integration partner with a full suite of professional service offerings can mean the difference between a rapid and successful mobile solution deployment and challenging installation plagued with delays and dead-ends.

While professional service offerings vary by provider, there are a number of key capabilities you should look for when evaluating integrators and resellers:

Planning & Assessment: Experienced integrators and resellers can provide technical evaluations and advice that will help you fully define the operational problem you need to solve – and then match either a single or mixed-vendor solution to your specific workflows.

Analysis & Design: This is more than just selecting some mobile hardware or a software application. Mobility solutions require a holistic approach that can include radio frequency network site surveys, network design, workflow evaluations, RFID tag and reader testing and evaluation, and other preliminary activities that will help you eliminate potential problems before they derail your implementation.

Mobility Implementation: Most corporate IT departments don’t have extensive experience in mobile deployments. Your integration partner can install the mobile software on the devices, stage and kit the hardware and accessories, test the hardware, help with any asset tagging prior to deployment, and perform system commissioning.

Software Services: In addition to configuring and loading the software, integration partners can provide operating system upgrade/downgrade services, device management software, licensing management, and new mobile app design or development services. Mobile technology and solutions evolve, often rapidly, and your partners should help your application evolve as well.

Management & Support: Before you sign the contract, find out what support options are available. Are there tiered service contracts? Unless you have in-house capabilities, find a reseller that can provide device management and repair services and other support services, right through to the disposal of old devices in an environmentally responsible manner. Hardware and software will eventually fail; robust support services will help keep those failures from resulting in costly downtime.

Bear in mind that you may not need to take advantage of all of these services; many companies have internal IT staffs that are more than capable of handling many of the basics of implementation, support and solution maintenance. But as your needs change and the technology evolves, the availability of these services may become more critical.

By partnering with a provider that not only provides reliable hardware and software, but that can also help manage the logistics of a large-scale mobile deployment and help keep the solution operating to its full potential, you can ensure a successful mobile computing implementation that will provide a rapid return on investment.