Almost every year I take at least 1 business trip/holiday to the US. In March I was in Vegas for a family birthday, Baltimore on business and Washington DC for a long weekend. As usual I learnt a lot about the future of technology and IT Support in the UK. The US is undoubtedly ahead of the UK in the adoption of new technology and IT Support services.
Business IT Support Repercussions
Not everything I learnt came from the business portion of the trip. It was interesting to go into a shop and see how computers are revolutionising the retail experience. US retailers are in the process of replacing scanning devices and tills with smartphones. There will inevitably be repercussions for business IT Support companies in the retail sector.
The assistant scans your purchase with the smartphone, takes a swipe of your credit card with the same smartphone and offers to email you the receipt (capturing your valuable email address in the process), though you can have the hard copy if you wish. If you have ever made a purchase from an Apple store will have seen the same approach.
However it’s no longer just the high tech retailers that are doing this. Nordstrom (I guess the equivalent of John Lewis) has started to do the same and plans to replace all its tills and scanners with smartphones. They will have only have 1 old fashioned cash till in the entire department store!
New Computer Technology Has The Potential To Improve Retail Sales
It also means that their staff are no longer hidden away from the customer behind a cash till. Instead they are free to walk around the store, assist customers and most importantly sell. The customers’ purchases are scanned with a smartphone as they look at the goods in the store before they have a chance to change their mind during the long walk to the till. This is a wonderful “case study” on how the investment in new technology can drive down computer hardware costs and increase sales. But it does increase the requirement for Business IT Support.
PC And Computer Hardware Costs Are Reduced
Costs will be reduced because smartphones are considerably cheaper to purchase than specialist computerised tills and scanning devices. They will be cheaper to run as well. If a smartphone goes wrong all the assistant needs to do is pick up another one from a pool of spares and send the old one in the mail to a repair company. No more expensive onsite computer hardware maintenance from specialist companies for complex till systems. Plus the expensive requirement to handle cash will be largely eliminated.
I’m sure that sales will increase as well. Shops that adopt this new approach will be able to provide more and better customer service by actually having their sales staff on the shop floor with the customer rather than hidden behind a computer till. That is bound to translate into increased sales for the savvy retailer.
IT Support Companies Continue To Grow
If my business was dependent on selling and maintaining tills I would be worried. But it’s great for business IT Support companies – their IT Support market is expanding as the computer equipment becomes simultaneously cheaper and more complex. It’s a common trend in business IT support. IT budget is being saved with cheaper hardware and as the underlying networks become more complex more is spent on business IT Support.