When selling IoT devices, manufacturers may have to issue a replacement or repair while a device is under warranty. It can be common for devices to break down due to normal wear and tear, especially when IoT devices can be found in so many different environments and in different use cases.
As a standard practice even for non-connected products, companies typically provide warranties for their offerings. Customers will reach out to say that there is a problem with the product, and the company will troubleshoot and determine if a replacement is required. In general, they will want to officially approve the return, in the form of a return authorization or RMA, before beginning the replacement process.
When cellular connectivity is leveraged as part of an IoT product, the device manufacturer needs to plan for how to manage that connectivity in the event a return is necessary. Since IoT deployments can easily run into the thousands of devices, there’s a good chance at least a few may break down and need to be replaced from time to time, so having a plan for managing active cellular lines is important. This clear distinction between the device status and the status of the cellular service would be akin to the traditional model of a residential internet package. Your cable modem could stop working and need to be replaced, but for every day you aren’t using your Internet, you are still paying for your service. This is not an ideal scenario for any customer.
To avoid this scenario with cellular-enabled IoT devices, a manufacturer needs to be able to easily make changes to the data plans associated with any devices being pulled from the field/from customers. As we’ve mentioned in a previous post, the SIM inside an IoT device may need to be changed to an inactive (non-billable) state to temporarily suspend the service while the return is in progress, and will likely be deactivated fully once the replacement device is in the customer’s hands.
If you’re selling your own IoT product and offering a subscription service as part of the offering, you will need to keep in mind that although the hardware has “broken down” or failed, the subscription service is still active. As mentioned before, customers will not want to be paying for a service they aren’t able to use, so you will need to reconcile these two things.
To do this, the active SIM on the affected device will need to be disabled and the new SIM in the replacement device will need to be activated. In addition, the subscription service will need to be transferred from the old device to the new one without impacting the billing start date and mitigating the chances of “lost” data or overages.
A Tip for Connected Device OEMs: Depending on how long it will take to send a replacement to a customer, it is recommended that you send replacement devices before migrating the service from the old device to the replacement. This should be part of your standard operating procedure and will result in minimal downtime.
Thanks to our many years of experience assisting OEMs in bringing IoT solutions to market, Zipit understands the challenges that companies face as they transition from a purely product-based business to a product and recurring services model. The operational complexity that can be added to already challenging logistical processes like returns can seem overwhelming, but they are not insurmountable, thanks to our platform which was specifically designed to help IoT device manufacturers enable, manage and support their cellular products and subscription services.
In addition to enabling the initial connection of new IoT devices and setting up new subscription services, the Zipit platform helps to simplify the process of facilitating returns and migrating subscriptions between IoT devices by:
It's as simple as logging into your administration portal and typing in the new serial number for the replacement devices.
By facilitating this transition seamlessly, we also help avoid unexpected changes to the customer’s synchronized billing dates, we mitigate the risk of customers losing data that they paid for, and we make sure that you as a manufacturer aren’t subject to being overcharged due to things like overlapping usage between old and new devices.
Stop struggling with the logistics of activating and deactivating SIMs, migrating subscriptions and keeping track things like credit card charges and monthly invoices. Fill out our contact form to talk to Zipit to learn how we can help you streamline these processes and get back to the basics: designing, marketing and selling your world-class products.