Appliance Service Industry And Technology
The intent of this article is to explore the Appliance Service Industry, its technology footprint, challenges, and potential solutions.
Major appliances, also known as white goods, comprise major household appliances and may include air conditioners, dishwashers, clothes dryers, drying cabinets, freezers, refrigerators, kitchen stoves, water heaters, washing machines, trash compactors, microwave ovens, and induction cookers. American households are stacked with such appliances implying there is a high demand for spare parts and servicing.
We know that many times when an appliance stops working or needs a service, the first thing we do is contact the seller-provided the product is under warranty. However, if the product is not under warranty, we look for service providers. I would say it’s not very common (yet a hobby) that one would try to service their appliance themselves by identifying the problem, purchasing the spare part, and replacing/fixing it.
Most of the significant appliance brands like Whirlpool, LG, Samsung, Frigidaire, KitchinAid, GE, etc. purchase spare parts through wholesale retailers and use their service partners for facilitating customers. This means there is much opportunity for service companies and whole retailers to expand their business.
Although there are huge B2B and B2C opportunities for the service industry and B2B opportunities for wholesale retailers, there are some major challenges.
1. Long service cycles
From the time a service appointment is made until the issue is resolved, there is a considerable delay in the process. To give a walkthrough of the challenges, the following is the current service lifecycle that we have observed.
The customer calls the manufacturer or a services provider with an issue or a service request. During this, a customer provides some necessary information about the appliance (make and model), illustrates the fundamental problem with the appliance, and makes an appointment for service.
The service provider sends a technician to assess the problem, identifies the problem, and, most of the time, orders the spare parts required for the job from a parts retailer.
The customer waits until the spare parts arrive and for the technician to come back to resolve the issue.
The technician makes another appointment with the customer, comes back with the parts to resolve this issue.
2. Migrating from Legacy ERP systems to the latest ones
a. ERP system is the heart and soul of business. This makes it very difficult for organizations to think about migrating from a current completely/partially stable system to a new one. “If it’s working, why should I change?” is a significant decision-making factor for a CEO or CTO in this business.
b. We want the business to understand that business strategy is rapidly changing. To keep up with new ideas and implement them, old technology can prove to be a barrier. This results in building custom solutions that over a while, become difficult to maintain. This adds a lot of costs to support, maintenance, and enhancement.
c. We recommend thinking out of the box and exploring the latest ERPs to expand and grow business. In 2020, I would group the ERPs in the following way
3. Invest in solutions to bring the appliance companies, service industry, and parts retail industry closer
a. Applications with the capability to predict possible issues and necessary parts for a given problem. Create automated job requests and ship the parts in advance to a customer or service company for faster resolutions.
b. Build an analytical platform to provide data to service/appliance and retail companies like current issues across models, the average age of appliances in areas, service predictions and demand data, etc. to help plan and market.
c. Create a stable and scalable returns platform as we see these businesses operate a lot on returns.
d. Facilitate credit solutions for retailers to help service companies and appliance companies.
e. Device advanced bulk ordering capabilities for retailers to help service providers and appliance companies stock parts inventory.
f. Integrate advanced mobile apps with interactive features for customers and servicemen to help get details on a particular model, identify issues, order parts, and possible instructions to fix a problem.
g. And many more!
4. Consider migrating to the cloud
a. It’s time not to manage your infrastructure and let the experts handle it for you.
b. Explore the full range of services provided by your cloud partner so that you can spend more time improving the business and not worrying about infrastructure.
c. Overall reduce cost and be efficient!