Imagine the nightmare, the busiest shopping day of the year and your connectivity goes down. You can’t take card payments, you can’t check stock availability and who knows how effective your EPOS will be. For a sector that is already under tremendous pressure, this is one nightmare you hope will never be a reality.
As a provider of cloud and connectivity services to the Retail sector, we thought we would share some of the key areas you should be focusing on to ensure your outlets remain connected and in business.
Always Have A ‘Plan B’
You don’t want to experience the scenario above, so we always recommend that retail outlets have a ‘plan B’ and combine a primary connectivity circuit with a secondary back-up. A cost-effective way of doing this is to utilise a 4G service and what’s more, this can be configured to automatically failover in the event of a loss of service on your primary circuit.
Make It Secure
As a retailer, you are required to comply with the GDPR and PCI/DSS regulations. A key aspect of this is to secure information as it flows around your business. For retailers, a private connection is key to securing data as well as ensuring the encryption of data in motion.
When Busy, You Need Speed
What is good enough on a quiet day will not cut it when things get busy. Compromising on performance is a false economy. In the world of retail, the one time you need everything including your connectivity to be lightning fast is when you have long queues at your checkouts. Selecting the right bandwidth for your connectivity is critical, as well as ensuring that your service is uncontended, otherwise, when others get busy you slow down.
Cloud Can Connect Your Stores
Today the boundaries of in-store and online are blurring. If you don’t have what the customer wants in stock, they are likely to give their business to an online retailer. In a similar manner, smart retailers are allowing consumers to buy online and collect locally in-store, delivering convenience while also maintaining in-store footfall.
All of this means that retail must be connected, and stores need to share information in real-time such as stock availability and the progress of orders. This is where the cloud can provide real wins, allowing information to be centrally held in systems accessible by all outlets.
A growing trend is for pop-up stores. Temporary outlets that need to be up and running for only a few days or weeks. The traditional approach to fixed wire connectivity into these pop-up locations does not work as lead times are too long. Here 4G data connectivity works well, deployed in hours and with the ability to move with you to the next pop-up location.
Are You Backing Up?
Systems do fail, and it’s critical that with any failure you don’t lose any vital data. The smart approach is to ensure you are backing systems up to off-site storage (the cloud) ensuring that everything you need including EPOS data, stock data and even CCTV footage is archived away to a safe location. Here we recommend that retailers utilise their network and leverage the bandwidth to back-up to the cloud during quiet periods (out of hours).
It’s All About Internet of Things
Retail is going through a digital revolution, the concept of the ‘Internet of Things’ is seeing connected technology enabling both a better retail experience and greater operational efficiencies. Sensors in refrigeration units flag failures before a disaster, digital signage promotes real-time offers to shoppers and by offering guest WiFi you can connect with your customers. All of these ‘things’ need to be connected both within the store and to the outside world, putting more demand on connectivity and creating additional challenges around securing your network.
At amatis we see technology as a massive opportunity for retail and one where the right connectivity, backed by access to the cloud, can make a significant impact. Having the right components in place will not only enable everything to run smoothly but will allow you to embrace emerging technologies that are transforming the retail experience.