For years, the primary customers for Socket Mobile’s wireless barcode scanners have been retail stores. These businesses use the company’s lightweight, Bluetooth-enabled scanners and other contactless data-capture tools as point-of-sale devices, as well as for tracking inventory and managing customer-loyalty programs.

Then, the COVID-19 lockdowns began. While many retailers had to shut their stores entirely, other businesses—such as restaurants—were finding new ways to operate. Some set up curbside delivery for the first time. Others set up kiosks in their parking lots where customers could pick up their orders. Many of these restaurants needed lightweight, wireless scanners or RFID readers to take credit card payments.

So, the good news: even during the business disruption caused by the pandemic, Socket Mobile found demand for its products from new industries—and a way to help some small businesses survive the lockdowns. 

But at the same time Socket Mobile was pivoting to address these new markets, the lockdown orders forced the company to adjust its own operations. With the exception of a small crew allowed to continue operating at the company’s manufacturing facility in California, all of Socket Mobile’s employees—in North America, Europe, and Asia—were suddenly forced to work from home.

Fortunately, the company had recently made a forward-thinking technology upgrade that made this transition extremely smooth.

Retiring an aging on-premises phone system

Socket Mobile’s IT and executive teams were seeing increasing signs that their 20-year-old legacy phone system was becoming more of a liability than an asset. The company didn’t have the sophisticated auto-attendant functionality to streamline the caller’s experience and save staff time transferring calls. Also, the sales and support teams didn’t have the flexible call queue features they needed to operate efficiently.

So they made the decision to migrate their entire company to a cloud-based communications solution that would offer all of these sophisticated business phone features—and at the same time give employees the mobility to make and take work calls from any device.

The IT team rolled out RingCentral in January 2020. “It was a total coincidence, of course, but we were feeling very wise and forward-thinking when the lockdowns began a couple of months later,” says Chief Technology Officer Len Ott.

Business as usual during the shutdown

When the work-from-home orders went into effect, Len and his team brought all of Socket Mobile’s employees up to speed on their new RingCentral solution. They were able to quickly show the team, for example, how to use the phone system to make and take business calls through the app from any computer or cell phone, how to use the built-in RingCentral Meetings™ solution for audio and video conferences, and how to integrate RingCentral with their workflow tools such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Office 365.

As Len explains, having RingCentral available to everyone from the beginning of the quarantine period made an enormous difference in the company’s ability to continue operating productively, and staying accessible to customers and each other.

“During the lockdowns, we went from quarterly company meetings to weekly meetings—with both video and screen sharing for presentations,” Len says. “We credit RingCentral with making it possible. Those video conferences are so easy to set up and run, particularly because now everyone is on the same platform. Even though the lockdowns have forced us all to be physically separated, these regular communications are actually bringing the team together.”