Sometimes you just have a bad week as a reseller and solutions provider.  Everyone who calls, emails or tweets in wants a rugged device with a barcode scanner for £100, they want a bespoke app written for £10 per device and we should be grateful for their 5 devices bulk buy!!  I’m exaggerating really, we get far better customers than that here by-and-large but it has been a week that made me want to visit the “Cost” aspect once again so lets explore that today and find out if cheap is really better by looking at all the risks that cheap bring.

1. Ruggedness

What I know for sure is that you’re not going to get a rugged device for less than £300 unless someone is getting fleeced along the channel.  Fully rugged means drop spec, means testing and also means decent rugged design that someone will stand by if there happens to be an issue.  It also means a decent drop spec, not just an IP rating.  All to many devices are coming out with an IP rating because that’s what Samsung did with it’s Active range but what the manufacturers don’t tell you is that the most issues from repair come from drops or quality issues with the device.

2. Support

You might be getting an £80 cheap smartphone for your mobile application but what happens if it breaks?  OK, so many people would cover off the hardware repair aspect by simply buying a couple more devices and holding them for that event but then you’re not using your money wisely having it locked up in spare devices?  Surely it’s a better investment to just buy a decent quality device in the first place?  Worse still what happens when the cheaper device gives you all kinds of unexpected issues, firmware, software, Android etc related  that can easily knock out 2 or more hours of productivity per day?  Who do you go to?  China?  Samsung? the cheap online reseller or network provider?  I think not!

3. Roadmap

Cheap = no device product roadmap and the cheaper you go generally the less of a guarantee you seem to get with product roadmap with only a few exceptions.  Remember this isn’t about you getting hold of the latest and greatest, this is about a business reducing costs and being given a stable mobile platform to make money on top of.  If you face a device change in the first year how will that impact your business?

4. Quality

Cheap often comes at the expense of quality in some way and as quality is the number one sought “quality” when businesses buy their mobile device it should pose an issue if you’re not getting it.  Quality comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Firmware, OS version, how well the hardware is put together, the support, the way the device looks, feels and works along with the suitability to business use and it’s ruggedness.  be careful when buying cheap, we know that 85% of a businesses costs come after the initial purchase and buying cheap can often be a huge risk.

5. Margins

If you want a great supplier then treat them right.  If you want people working hard and for their to be some kind of passion about you and the mobile kit you buy then their has to be some kind of margin in the channel you buy from.  Remember mobile devices have to be designed, fabricated, imported, distributed and finally re-sold so a device that’s cheap is going to have significantly less margins and as such you have to understand that a  lot of the support and after sales business model will need to come from elsewhere!

Just look what the supermarkets have done to our country in the quest for savings.  Just ask a dairy farmers if you;re still not sure!

So cheap might look great but it can also be a big risk to your business

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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