The trouble with the rugged PDA market at the moment, in my humble view, is too many people are getting the wrong Rugged PDA advice from resellers not committing to the hardware they sell.  You’re making a long-term investment in your Rugged PDA solution, spending £1000’s and you deserve to know what kind of experts or not you’re dealing with.

Now I’m not saying that we should all only sell one or two manufacturers but I am saying that there should be some basic knowledge that your reseller should be able to answer you with that shows they work hard with the devices they sell.  Each and every device we sell, we get involved with and we’re constantly unearthing small issues that need correcting, often by ourselves.  Here I discuss a top 10 list of questions to ask your reseller to ensure you’re talking to the right people.

Device knowledge

Ask about the nuisances of the device you’re looking at.  No 2 rugged PDA’s are the same and its often the small details you miss that will cost you dearly down the line.  For instance, we have devices which will not fit into cradles with extended batteries.  Ones with missing GPS chips, ones with misleading GPRS/3G/HSDPA specs to name but a few.  Ask the reseller about these details and comb through the specs with them as its very important.

Blogs and social activity

The true test of expertise.  Does the reseller have a blog, are they actively involved in forums and do they tweet or Facebook!?  Check them out and see what they’re really doing.  1 blog entry per month = no committment = no expertise.  Look for the depth and honesty of their tweeting, are you seeing the company for real here and are they putting their expertise and opinions at the true mercy of the social world?  When was the last time they contributed anything to a tech forum, whether it be Microsoft, PIsion’s teklogix developer forum or their own?  It’s these guys who are the ones to talk to.  Social media is here to stay and the resellers who are putting themselves out there are the ones who are daring to be right.

Consultancy approach

Only the best resellers will take a consultancy approach from the word go and I’m not meaning for 100+ device projects.  If the reseller is at least willing to try to run a project for you on say 10-20 devices or even less than they probably know their stuff, have good contact with the manufacturers and are willing to work hard for you.  Will they come and visit you?  How much do they want to learn about what you’re doing and how serious do they seem about your business.  Talking to some bod telephone sales person chained to a desk all day will not make sure you’re getting the right device.

Knowledge of the supply chain

Ask about lead times, where the devices sources from, stock levels and anything you can about the supply chain.  Now a reseller isn’t going to share everything here but the good ones will be able to quickly come back to you with answers to any supply chain questions.  It shows they’re in good contact with the supply chain and are taken seriously by it.

Passion

We’re not sales people here, we’re techies who rely on passion to sell.  We hope that our passion, committment and hard work pays off and the type of customers we get prove this model.  If you’re talking price and cost up front and nailing a reseller down, the chances are the good ones will walk away from you!

Support and Beware the repair centre

Ask questions about the support and service on the devices you’re enquiring and test the reseller’s depth.  Where is it based, is it manufacturer direct and what are the rough costs.  Any reseller who is committing to the device in question should know this right away.  The trend for device support is to move away from the “certified” repair centres and to deal direct with the manufacturer.  Most if not all manufacturers work like this now or not at all.  Anyone can get certified to repair devices but the service element of a repair centre is rarely governed and repair centres have had their day.  Make sure your support product is return to manufacturer or ask for a damn good reason why it’s not.

Rebranded devices

This just spells trouble for everyone from the start.  Why would you want to rebrand a device, when others are selling it openly from the correct source brand…well i’ll tell you…to keep the prices high as the perceived competition is low on the device!!  We see all sorts of manufacturers devices re-branded like this and all it does is confuse customers, upset distributors and dupe the honest resellers, whislt the dishonest ones are getting away with murder!  Even Motorola gear is rebranded in this way.

Beware the non-agnostic resellers

Some resellers are also trying to get in on the distribution act which is not only illegal but it also means certain devices are being peddled by resellers who have an interest in doing so at a price that no-one else can match.  Always ask if a reseller has a distribution set-up with any manufacturers and always ask if they are totally manufacturer agnostic because a lot aren’t.  There are a lot of devices on the market that are simply not cutting it but sell due to not exposing their real issues.  We also see devices from Asia or the USA being sold here and its all fine and dandy until you need to send it back under warranty….you have been warned!

Value

Ask the resellers what they do with the manufacturers and how involved they are with them.  We for instance help build CAB’s and even Windows Mobile Builds for certain devices and have been heavily involved with issues that have required a full effort by the manufacturers and us to overcome.  Why, because we’re passionate about selling the best solutions we can.  There are a lot of resellers who don’t add any value other than price and you’ll just end up in a world of pain later on if you go with the “box shifters”.  The resellers who aren’t the cheapest are often the best and will save you £££’s in the medium to long-term.  Give us a chance!!

Price

The pricing in the rugged market can be extremely varied and you need to look for the mid-low priced resellers.  As discussed above don’t go for the cheapest web based shop/business #who leads with price and always beware the ones who drop their pricing as soon as you mention competition, they’ll often be the very resellers who know nothing about the devices they’re selling and looking to nick a deal with no committment to you after the sale.

There we go, I could have kept writing for hours I think but that should give any prospective Rugged PDA buyer something to work on.  One last comment though, try to work collaboratively with your reseller because becoming a team and working through a project with them and perhaps paying a little more for the privilege will reap huge benefits after your solution is rolled out.  Too many customers are leading with price and we’re increasingly telling these type of customers to go and look elsewhere for their purchases.

Yes we can choose you too!!

As usual if you want to discuss any aspects of Rugged PDA’s, data capture or Mobile software development then feel free to email us.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

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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