Retailers face increasing pressure to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, while controlling operational and capital costs at the same time. Retail IT leaders should be on the lookout for technology solutions and services that help to streamline processes and aligns technology disseminated across tens of thousands of locations.

That’s where CDW’s pre-ship configuration can play an instrumental role. My team helps many retail IT specialists discover ways to free up their staff from time assembling and testing new equipment, installing software or configuring network settings. Pre-ship configuration allows each of them to instead spend more time working toward the retailer’s overarching business goals.

Configuration services can be attached to every technology that CDW sells. Almost every device available for purchase today requires some level of customization — think desktops, notebooks, mobile devices, monitors, printers, routers, servers and switches.

Make It Work

The first thing retailers may ask themselves is, “Does the equipment work?” Our pre-ship configuration team provides testing and dead-on arrival validation and verification to help answer that question before the technology even leaves the warehouse.

CDW follows a five-tiered process to ensure more efficient integration of new devices into retail environments, setting them up quickly so the tools can be put to use right away. That’s especially important when the technology is being deployed for the workforce, or includes computers and peripherals for customers.

Five Steps of Pre-Ship Configuration

  1. Asset management — CDW has three common asset tag options: CDW tags, customer provided tags, or custom tags created to suit business requirements. All information about a device is scanned into a database — serial number, shipping address, device or unit description, purchase order information and more — and can then be tracked online within a customer’s account center. This step may also include laser etching a company’s logo and brand color or design elements on equipment.
  2. Hardware installation — Any device, from desktops to switches, can be customized with additional components and peripherals or any other customer requirement needed to meet specific retail uses.
  3. Software provisioning — CDW can install and configure almost all commercially available operating systems and applications. Regardless of what the client’s needs are, we work with them to take what is already configured and deploy it as a standard image on all new computers delivered. In cases where there isn’t a standard, that’s not a problem. We will work with IT to create one. A word of advice: When configuration is not optimized and fully secured, organizations are subjected to a variety of security and productivity issues.
  4. Final customization — This is the key in providing turnkey solutions for our customers. Once software is installed, equipment is configured in accordance with user roles and site specific variables. Through a virtual private network connection, CDW will connect to a client’s network and join every system to the retailer’s domain, creating a unique profile for each user/device. The accounting, marketing and sales teams likely have different customization needs, and specific users will receive plug and play devices based on their roles. At the end of the day, we can address every possible business need.
  5. Special logistics prep — This step is not a technical service, but one that is extremely important for retail IT. When equipment arrives in a box or shrink-wrapped pallet, a welcome letter lays out in detail everything in the box, what it’s for, who to call for support, and more. A point-of-sale system, for instance, contains several components, including a register, scanner, printer and cables. If that equipment is not packaged correctly, a customer might receive numerous different boxes and not know what’s what.

Boost ROI

Ultimately, the true goal of pre-ship configuration is to boost our retail customers’ return on investment and reduce the total cost of technology ownership. Pre-configured devices ensure more efficient integration of new technology into the rapidly evolving — and ever-changing — retail environment, getting everyone set up to use it as quickly as possible, without missing a beat.

Check out BizTech Magazine to stay on top of the latest in retail trends and don’t forget to sign up for the CDW Solutions Blog monthly e-newsletter to stay on the cutting edge of tech.

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