Your solution exceeded all expectations. It’s the first to solve a prevalent pain point in your market. It has obvious ROI from increased efficiency, productivity, and revenues. And, it’s elegant. But there’s one problem: Your users need the right hardware to run it — and you don’t sell hardware.
Software developers creating solutions for digital signage, point of sale (POS), smart printers, and embedded handheld computers go to great lengths to partner with hardware vendors that can provide the functionality, security, and optimal user experiences. You carefully test and certify their solutions to confirm that using their hardware delivers top performance. Hardware that a user buys on eBay won’t cut it — and it won’t provide the CX your intended (if it works at all) and could lead a user to the conclusion that the problem is your software, not the wrong hardware.
You need to find a way to get the right hardware into your users’ hands — so is the answer selling it?
The Pros and Cons of Selling Hardware
Selling a total solution — hardware and software — eliminates the guesswork. You have more control over user experiences and customer satisfaction.
The cons column for selling hardware, however, can grow long. Selling hardware means stocking and shipping the terminals, printers, handhelds, and more that your customers need as well as dealing with warranties, repairs, parts, and replacements. You have to build relationships with various vendors and distributors and maybe deal with different tax laws than you’re used to. Selling hardware also requires you to provide technical support and service, which, depending on the hardware your users need, could negate most of the profit from the sale.
For many software developers and ISVs, the hardware space is beyond their core competency — and comfort zone.
Partnership is the Answer
When you’re setting the course for the best way to take your solution to market, consider partnering with a hardware fulfillment service. These businesses work with you to determine exactly what your users need — down to model number and options — stock it, ship it, and service it.
Although hardware fulfillment companies can take different approaches, one of the most user-friendly and effective is to create a branded microsite for your solution. This gives users the convenience of placing their orders for hardware and supplies online and, when needed, contact a consultant from the hardware fulfillment company who can answer their questions.
For example, a number of online ordering platforms use this service to provide their restaurants with the Star Micronics printers they need that streamline the process of getting orders to the kitchen and staff packaging them for pickup or delivery.
Hardware fulfillment companies may offer pre-configuration, so your users can virtually use their solutions out of the box. It’s convenient and easy for end users, reflects positively on your brand, and you actually make money on hardware sales on residuals from your partner.
Making It Work
With any partnership, both parties need to set ground rules and see mutual benefit. Get answers to all of your questions about what the hardware fulfillment company will provide and what your business needs to do. It’s also smart to work with your partner on how to market your solution, including directing users to your hardware microsite.
Your team doesn’t have to divide its focus between software development and selling hardware. A partnership with a hardware fulfillment company can allow you to continue to do what you do best while providing your customers with everything they need for optimal user experiences.