The Cost of Downtime for Retailers: How to Keep Your Infrastructure Online

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As you might guess, network downtime can be a huge hindrance to businesses and it can impact more than just the sales of a particular day. It also affects security, customers, employees, and more. In fact, the 2018 Accelerated Concepts Retail Survey released that nearly one in three retailers report when their networks are down, their brand reputation becomes damaged. Keeping your infrastructure online is one of the most important things you can do for your retail business.

The Cost of Downtime for Retailers - Hero illustration of high street with the lights on at only one retailer, representing downtime

A whopping 81 percent of retailers experience downtime at least once a year and 87 percent of retailers say the outage lasts approximately four hours. However, 20 percent still do not have a backup connectivity solution in place, says the survey.

Additional findings showcase the security threats of downtime on business. Eighty-two percent of retailers report that network downtime results in a negative customer experience, which is no surprise. Think about how frustrating it can be when a product you’re using suddenly cuts out on you. It also notes more than half of retailers cannot enable their security systems while disconnected from their network. Also, 36 percent of retailers see network downtime as a time in which they are more vulnerable to data breaches.

You can check out the survey from Accelerated yourself here, but we handpicked a few more statistics from the survey, showing the true impact of downtime on business:

  • 61 percent of retailers cannot process credit cards while disconnected from the network
  • 72 percent of retailers lose sales during a network outage
  • More than 70 percent of retailers cannot utilize in-store digital signage without network connectivity

With all this being said, it’s not impossible to prevent your infrastructure from going down. While of course there are always unforeseen circumstances, putting in the effort to be prepared ahead of time can lessen the blow to business.

We’ve pulled together some tips for retailers to help you avoid some of this costly network downtime.

1. Build it to scale and build it redundantly

It’s becoming more and more common to look to the cloud to build an infrastructure that is resilient as opposed to adding hardware, buying routers, and setting up firewalls. Put your systems in zones and seek guidance to build a cloud infrastructure that’s strong.

A redundant connection can be crucial as a backup if your main connection is experiencing problems. To do this, you would establish a connection with a different provider and network carrier. You need a different option for your wireless and wired connection. If they are through the same provider, you’ll experience the same problem. Get a redundant connection as a backup if your original network. The second network can pick up the load without issue.

The cost of downtime for retailers - illustration of cloud connected computer for backups as part of information around having a backup UPS

2. Have a backup

Have an uninterruptible power source (UPS) at the ready in case your building loses power. The electrical apparatus provides emergency power when your main power source fails. This is different from a generator as it provides an almost near-instantaneous supply of energy whereas generators can take time to start. It’s smart to have both a UPS and a generator. This ensures your workers won’t lose hours of work and will allow your business to continue moving without any delays to customers in the event you encounter loss of power.

3. Conduct system tests

It’s important to conduct system tests, maintain updates, and check their condition regularly. Regular maintenance and checks could point out problems, so vulnerabilities and downtime doesn’t occur. If downtime does occur, it’s important to find the source of the problem right away so you can troubleshoot a widespread failure or perhaps you could find it’s just a small problem that’s easily fixable.

4. Use technology to last The Cost of Downtime for Retailers - illustration of clipboard and checklist

It can be tempting to purchase lower-grade options but chances are the money you save will go into replacing them by handling an outage or dealing with slower than ideal service. Speed and uninterrupted service matter most when you are running a business and higher-grade equipment helps maintain employee productivity and happy customers. The good news is, there are many affordable options for higher-grade equipment.