Ruggiero’s Ace Hardware* is a family business, started in 1976 by Alphonse Ruggiero in Mesa, Arizona. The business has grown over the last 40 years from one small, 4,000-sq.-ft. store to seven locations across three states as it passed from one generation to the next. Brothers Josh and Austin Ruggiero, Alphonse’s grandsons, now oversee the operation after inheriting the responsibility from their father and uncle.
Josh serves their seven stores as a one-man IT department. In the past, when POS system issues would come up, he often had to deal with them personally, which sometimes meant making a 2-hour round-trip drive from store to store. “Too close for shipping, but too far to be convenient.” Even after-hours updates would take time, requiring Josh or other employees to be on-call in case something failed.
Their issues are common to many small businesses, which usually have minimal IT resources and tight budgets. POS system interruptions can cost a business a 4 to 5 percent average revenue loss every minute.1 To centrally manage POS system issues with minimal impact to customer experience, the Ruggieros moved to the Intel® vPro™ platform with Active Management Technology (AMT). Austin, responsible for store operations, saw it as a way to run the business more efficiently. “The vPro-capable devices allow us to simplify some of the troubleshooting process.”
With Intel vPro-enabled devices, Ruggiero’s Ace Hardware can address common industry concerns of system downtime, security, and total cost of ownership (TCO) pressures in a cost-effective manner by managing and updating their system across locations during off hours. Austin says it also reduces onsite calls. “Having more remote capability eliminates the congestion when someone is diagnosing a register.”
“As computing moves to the edge, you really need access to the device — it’s all about uptime,” says Brian Teuscher, Intel’s IOTG Retail Strategic Platform Manager. “The compute power is only as good as the device is capable of running. vPro delivers that reliable foundation that enables edge computing.” Even if a system completely fails, and is unresponsive to traditional management tools, Intel vPro is the only platform with the ability to power on devices remotely in a secure way. “Without those customers and without the money that they are paying in exchange for goods, the retailer’s business could struggle,” Teuscher says. “From the day-to-day and efficiency perspectives, keeping those systems running is critical to success.”
Now that they’re on the Intel vPro platform, Josh has found POS updates more convenient and more cost-effective. “This process usually [took] several hours — to back up the server, install new server software, and then update each endpoint. We have always had [to have] store managers on call in case something fails. Now, with vPro, we no longer need to have them on call.”
Austin has seen the effect out on the floor. “[Intel’s vPro platform] has helped level the playing field with larger retailers that have a larger IT budget. Our employees can deal with just the customers and not have to worry about troubleshooting registers.”
Josh also stresses the importance of that personal touch. “Ace Hardware stores are well-known for having good customer service. We want to make sure that … it’s that family experience they get as they walk in and [that they] feel very comfortable shopping here.”
Intel vPro technology offers smart and connected device management that can change the way retailers operate. With the vPro platform working so well on the POS system, Josh now has big plans for the future. “AMT will be enabled on all devices, not just POS. We have all sorts of other computers — paint matching, pool water testing, key making, special order and service counter. Front of house and back of house — vPro is a must going forward.”