Choosing DSD Hardware: Rugged vs Consumer Devices

I received a call last week inquiring about the compatibility of our Gimme Key (wireless DEX adapter) with both rugged and consumer devices. It seems that this manufacturer was retiring their tired and outdated Windows mobile devices. So, it got me thinking that it may be valuable for us to discuss an important decision facing DSD retailers. Rugged vs Consumer Devices. Which option do you choose for your Direct Store Delivery drivers?

Here are 3 things to think about when choosing your DSD hardware:

What will your DSD Hardware need to do today? Tomorrow?

Today, DSD organizations need to support high-frequency barcode scanning, mobile printing, a cellular network, and DEX. We’ll drill down into the specifics later, but most of the devices mentioned above can support these requirements either natively or with adapters. Tomorow’s needs: This is the challenge facing all of us. How do we protect our investment against technology changes at the retailer? Software updates? Android and iOS consumer devices seem to have an advantage here.

Does your organization need a “ruggedized” device?

Specialized rugged devices are considerably more expensive than standard consumer devices, so this decision can have a big impact on your capital costs. Are your drivers likely to break hardware easily? What has been your experience with other high cost hardware offerings? Do operators have smartphones/tablets at home? If your drivers are likely to be hard on your hardware investment, a highly ruggedized device may be warranted. Fortunately, there are several Android and Windows-based options for ruggedized devices. I should also mention the ruggedized cases that are available for iOS devices make them quite formidable.

Also, have you considered acceptable breakage?

If your choice is a consumer-grade devices, how much breakage would you expect (given your personnel)? A good standard is to take the device cost and multiply by 3. If your tripled-estimate is still low, it may actually be more cost-effective to opt for consumer-grade devices and simply replace them as needed.

Does your Direct Store Delivery process require special functions from the devices?

If your DSD process requires barcode scanning, many ruggedized devices incorporate the necessary hardware. Consumer devices do not currently offer some specialized functions. However, there are accessories that add these features to consumer-grade devices. Many of these cases/accessories are rugged in design and protect the device… so if you only need moderately rugged devices, this may be a solid option. Once again, there are numerous options for Android and iOS consumer-grade devices that can make them highly rugged. These options can offer significant savings to your DSD hardware costs.

So, which is better for your DSD operations? Tell us why we should pick a rugged device. Help us understand why you decided on a consumer device. Did you get the ruggedized case? Join the conversation and let’s all make a more informed purchasing decision.