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GET YOURSELF CONNECTED: WHY SMART RETAILERS TAKE DATA DOWNTIME SERIOUSLY

Our high streets are undergoing a massive change, as shoppers move online and retailers lure shoppers into stores with the promise of a retail experience. This ‘smart retailing’ places great demands on data and connectivity: the cost of getting it wrong for retailers is considerable.

Today’s savvy shoppers want a place where the physical products they encounter in store are linked to their online world, and where they receive personalised advice, individual assistance and an immersive experience. At the forefront of this ‘smart’ retail approach are network connectivity and the internet.

Of course, it’s not just out front in the store that network connectivity is essential. Retailers are increasingly reliant upon it for the smooth running of their entire operations – from point of sale, stock management, general administration, shopper and/or staff analytics and tagging solutions, through to heating, lighting, customer feedback, in-store promotions, even human resources and finance.

Clearly, security, loss prevention and colleague protection are also key drivers, and The British Retail Consortium's (BRC) 2017 Retail Crime Survey stated that the annual bill for UK retail crime soared to just over £700m in 2016 – the highest level since records began.
This all means that smart retailers need to put in place secure, agile and reliable network connectivity if they are to be successful in an increasingly challenging market.

Talking retail…

To gain a comprehensive insight into connectivity in retail environments, CSL recently commissioned Research Without Barriers (RWB) to question 301 IT managers, IT directors, chief information officers (CIOs) and chief technology officers (CTOs) in companies with over ten employees.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that 50 per cent of respondents could not operate without connectivity, with an average 71 per cent claiming to be very or extremely reliant on it for core functions.

Yet our survey discovered that a loss of connectivity is alarmingly commonplace, with 72 per cent of retailers having suffered such an event. Furthermore, 44 per cent of retailers experience an instance of downtime every month, something that three quarters of those questioned said had a moderate or high impact on core functions, with point of sale (86 per cent), stock management (81 per cent) and general administration (76 per cent) most affected.

What’s more, the repercussions of any downtime are significant, with 86 per cent estimating that losing network connectivity for a single day impacts their sales by up to half. Yet despite this, more than a quarter (27 per cent) of retailers have no backup plan in the event of a loss of connectivity.

The cost of downtime

Our survey clearly shows that internet failover and router redundancy is essential to maintain business continuity and highlights the cost and frequency of the failings that retailers currently experience.

Reliable and secure connectivity is possible, however, through technology such as 4G SIM devices such as the CSL Router, which provides an instant, encrypted connection to the internet for sites where wired broadband is unavailable, impractical or slow. It is also possible to upgrade an existing broadband service to a private network to provide a reliable failover solution if a wired broadband infrastructure goes down.

In fact, 98 per cent of the CIOs and CTOs we spoke to in our survey expressed an interest in a 4G SIM router that could help them maintain the reliable and secure communications that their critical business processes rely on.

Smart retailers, such as these individuals, know that connectivity is key.

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