Though it is back-to-school season and educational electronics and technology are flying off the shelves, electronics will break, and that is 365 days a year. When it comes to owning an electronic device, retailers have a reasonable expectation that consumers will seek the manufacturer’s aid when it comes to repairing and protecting it. After all, we rely on these electronics for nearly every aspect of our lives.
There are steps retailers can take to ensure that consumers stay protected when it comes to their electronic devices at every stage of ownership by producing and recommending protective cases and product protection plans.
The Cost of Electronics Repairs
Who knew electronic equipment repairs would cost a pretty penny? Research and Markets projects the global electronic equipment repair service market will be $112.92 billion in 2023, compared with $104.86 billion in 2022. This period will experience a robust 7.7 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). The market is forecasted to continue to reach $148.82 billion in 2027, a CAGR of 7.1 percent. This growth is not surprising, as many consumers rely on these services to extend the life cycle of their devices.
Though repairing existing electronics is less expensive and more environmentally friendly than purchasing or upgrading new products, they can still break the bank depending on the device, damage, presence of coverage, and repair service. Because electronics today are manufactured with glued components, it is nearly impossible for the average consumer to DIY a repair project without professional guidance. Virginia-based mobile repair company iRite estimates that the average repair price for a computer is between $10 to $100 per hour, a smartphone costing around $30.
While it should not be on the shoulders of the consumer to prevent their device from breaking or malfunctioning, the best way to prevent the need for electronics service repairs and, even more unnecessarily, purchasing a new device entirely is to protect these devices from the get-go.
What to Look for in Protective Device Cases
The right case will protect devices from various factors. Samsung Insights names three factors to consider before purchasing a case. Though Samsung Insights tailored this advice for smartphones, any electronic device needs a case with these protective features:
Water Damage Protection
Water is the mortal enemy of many electronic devices, from smartphones to laptops. Many of us have felt the panic settle in when we accidentally knock over a glass of water onto our keyboard. And retailers know the woe customers feel when they enter a store looking to repair their device or purchase a new one because of a water mishap. Waterproof and water-resistant cases are a great solution. Typically composed of impermeable materials like plastic and rubber, these cases act as a barrier between the device and water to protect what is most important.
Before purchasing a case that protects against water damage, remember there is a difference between waterproof and water-resistant. A waterproof case will keep a device dry in any situation, whereas a water-resistant case will offer light protection. In other words, a water-resistant case will not be preferable to a waterproof case if someone is looking to submerge their device in deep water any time soon.
No matter how careful someone is with a device, drops happen. Samsung Insights designates drops as “the biggest threat” to a device, with the screen being the most likely to absorb the damage. The site goes on to recommend that “the best-rugged cases combine a rubber internal slip and hard exterior for extra protection.” Though they are not cases, screen protectors will also be a welcome accompaniment to any case.
When browsing for cases to buy, customers will often come across many that have been designed ‘military-grade’ in terms of protection. But what does this mean? This military-grade standard is abbreviated as MIL-STD, and, according to Review Geek, it is “a series of standards set by the United States military, designed to create uniform, dependable items for soldiers, sailors, and airmen.” MIL-STD can be applied to many items, including device cases.
Customers will often see ‘MIL-STD-810G’ listed in the features for consumer goods with military-grade protection. Essentially, devices with this designation have been thoroughly tested against MIL-STD-810G standards for consumer goods. For devices, this typically means protection from drops through shock tests that can involve dropping a device from varying heights and angles to test the durability of a case.
Samsung Insights lists that the final factor to consider before purchasing a case is whether it is “compatible with any other accessories that will be attached to the device, such as scanners, point-of-sale (POS) card readers or in-vehicle docks.” Other accessories to consider include “access to biometric sensors, the charging port, the headphone jack and wireless charging compatibility.” The latter accessory is important, as many devices are not compatible with wireless charging technology like MagSafe. Retailers should know which accessories a customer utilizes in tandem with their device to recommend the best protective case possible. Some students with tablets could rely on a stylus to take notes, complete coursework, or make art. Having a case that can house a stylus and protect it from being lost or broken is considerate to the customer.
Protect Customers’ Devices with Product Protection Plans
While protective cases are essential to ensuring the preservation of electronic devices, it is better for retailers to go above and beyond when it comes to protecting customers’ devices. This means implementing product protection plans into your business model.
Product protection provider Mulberry defines product protection plans as “paid service contracts that either offer accidental damage protection (a.k.a ADH) and/or an extension of the original manufacturers’ warranty terms on the covered item(s) for a period of time from date of purchase.” Product protection plans are a great way to endear retailers to existing and prospective customers. They provide customers with peace of mind throughout the entire purchasing process and after because it reinforces that retailers are there to help with repairs, coverage, and whatever else they need to get their devices up and running again.
Consumers are looking for retailers who offer product protection plans, especially ones that extend beyond the manufacturer’s warranty/coverage term. According to a 2022 product protection consumer study of 1,600 US adults conducted by Mulberry, 40 percent of respondents found it “somewhat important” that retailers offered free limited manufacturer warranties on their websites, and 41 percent found it “somewhat important” that retailers offered accident protection plans or extended warranties on their websites. Another Mulberry survey found that 25 percent of respondents indicated they “often or always” purchase insurance or warranties for physical product purchases.
Whether a retailer offers a protection plan can be a dealbreaker for some consumers. The same study revealed that 38 percent of shoppers would not go through with a purchase if the merchant’s website did not offer a protection plan. Younger consumers are more likely to exhibit this behavior, as Mulberry indicates that a combined 47 percent of shoppers aged 18-29, when purchasing an item above $200, would either go to a different site for the item or scrap the purchase altogether if a retailer’s website did not offer extended warranty options.
Product protection plans bolster customer loyalty. In addition to offering a plethora of protective device cases for all the ‘oops’-es and bumps that can occur, retailers would do well to imbue their business model with product protection at every stage of customer interaction.