Deployment is the bridge between the final development phase and the remote monitoring and management phase of a digital merchandising project. It's the phase of the project that can foster excitement and deliver frustration. However, proper and thorough planning of the four areas below will minimize deployment mishaps.
Make sure you vet these four things before your deployment hits the retail floor:
What's your overall plan for connectivity? Do your units need to be remotely connected? Will you work with an existing network? If so, gain the correct permissions and proxies and verify the connection works prior to going out into the field.
Gaining access to existing "hostile" store networks can be a fruitless endeavor, so I recommend you have viable alternatives. We've had great success with the use of a high gain antenna and a cell phone modem which virtually eliminates your reliance on in-store systems.
Power is essential for kiosk units, but 120 volt receptacles can be elusive in retail and big box stores. Contact your install locations beforehand and take a site survey to make sure you'll have access to the power you need. Bring plenty of extension cords and ensure the power is clean (e.g. no voltage fluctuations from large pieces of equipment turning on and off on the same circuit).
Who is going to receive the units? Use caution when shipping units to a big-box retailer, we've found that display units can get lost in the back room or simply disappear. Consider shipping the units to local or regional representatives rather than directly to the store.
Field services support and help desk
Many stores won't let you install while they are open for business, so choose installation and support staff that will be willing to work during off-hours. Also, plan for extra help desk staff for the duration of the deployment as issues may arise at any point.
Think it through
Deployment of a digital merchandising project is a complex effort with many moving parts that need to be seamlessly coordinated. The overall deployment plan needs to be integrated into the larger project plan. Pay attention to connectivity, power, shipping/receiving, and support issues before deployment and you'll set yourself up for a smooth install. Above all else, make sure every part of the process is thoroughly thought out, tested and documented prior to "feet hitting the street."
Craig Martin has over 15 years of experience providing Fortune 500 brands and retailers with innovative digital merchandising solutions. He founded Reality Interactive, LLC in 2004. Prior to that, he held senior business development positions at Media Right and Netkey. Clients over the years include BMW, Callaway Golf, PepsiCo, Bose, Lego, Leapfrog and others.