Articles

5 ways to ensure maximum system availability at Retail Stores

by Jose Richardson System Admin

Digital transformation is empowering Retail businesses and has become critical for both frontend and backend operations. This has made organizations vulnerable to the numerous disadvantages of system downtime. Retail companies can prevent such disruptive instances by applying techniques to maximize system availability.


The expanse of digital transformation has not only affected the day-to-day operations and methodology of retail organizations but has also affected customer demands and expectations. In particular, customers now expect a combination of speed and personalized attention in their shopping experience.


E-commerce is clearly the best example of the impact that technology has on the retail sector. Customers are increasingly recognizing the convenience and comfort of carrying entire stores in their smartphones.


On the other hand, physical stores are leaving no stone unturned in leveraging technology to maintain their relevance and business trajectory. These retailers are quickly adopting and deploying modern devices like digital signages, demo computers, and kiosks to display products, assist in informed decision making, place orders, and facilitate sales. Both front-end and back-end operations (procurement, logistics, financial transactions, and the like) have become entirely dependent on technology-centered solutions.


That being said, the heavy dependence on computers and other digitally powered retail devices has its drawbacks, the most prominent of which is the system downtime. A 2017 survey found that major verticals including the retail sector suffered expenses to the effect of 5 million dollars for an hour of downtime on average. Downtime can severely affect the continuity across multiple interconnected retail operations and is one of the most lingering concerns for their IT teams.


Effects of IT downtime in retail


The effects of downtime in customer-centric sectors like retail can be best understood by taking a closer look at two major categories:


Impact at Frontend: This involves functions concerning customer experiences and interaction. Customers often prefer to use store computers like kiosks or digital signages to look up products and prices. When such devices are affected by downtime, customers face delays in placing orders. Also, when POS (point of sale) devices malfunction during peak hours, delays in completing the transactions can upset the customers. If buyers have to deal with an unsatisfactory shopping experience, the negative feedback could affect the organization’s credibility and its brand value.


Impact at Backend: Functions like logistics and inventory management are heavily dependent on technology for reducing the possibility of human error and ensuring smooth operations. Consequently, the incidence of downtime can be crippling. Interference or delays in the time and cost sensitive backend functions can greatly affect the economy of retail operations. For instance, suspension of information transmission necessary for transporting products can lead to delayed deliveries. This can lead to financial losses while affecting the company’s reputation for effectiveness.


How to reduce downtime

The following measures can be implemented to minimize the instances of IT downtime:


1. Check facilities and devices: The devices deployed in retail stores serve numerous customers and staff throughout the day. One of the major causes of downtime is unrestricted browsing and download/ installation of unauthorized applications. Viruses, malware, trojans and other malicious elements can gain access to these systems via the online activity of users. To protect these devices, it is advisable to conduct regular system checks. If potentially harmful files or signs of aberrant behavior are detected, IT administrators can take immediate corrective measures before prolonged downtime sets in.  


2. Update systems at regular intervals: The progress of technology includes both positive and negative advancements. To protect systems from the dangers of constantly evolving cyber threats, systems have to be upgraded regularly. The operating system, antivirus, retail apps, and other system software and security applications must be kept updated without failure.


3. Implement backup protocols: Computers used in the retail sector store essential data. This includes information about the product catalog, customer details, and similar significant variables. In case of system failure, backup procedures must be in place in order to ensure that no data is lost. This procedure helps admins restore affected system to a pristine state, including restoration of the lost data. Backup protocols not just protect data against digital disruptions, but also from the effects of physical adversities such as hardware failure, power cuts, storage drive crash, etc.


4. Maintaining industry standards and security measures: Maintaining industry standards like being PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant helps in minimizing security breaches while boosting customer trust and confidence. Similarly, implementing security protocols help to streamline business operations and minimize instances of system malfunction. Such protocols can take a number of forms, such as restricting user access to certain websites and system settings or requiring managerial authorization for accessing financial and other sensitive information.

5. Restorative Remediation Measures: Preventive measures, like those explored above, can be paired with restorative solutions to ensure minimal IT downtime. An optimal system recovery software is one which can finish the restoration process within a few minutes, thereby preventing the suspension of functionality for long periods of time.


Reboot and Restore technology is a particularly effective system restoration tool for a variety of IT issues that retailers often face. When installed, the software powered by Reboot and Restore technology preserves the devices’ current configuration as the baseline. Every restart after this reverts the system back to the baseline configuration. Changes made by users are automatically removed (unless authorized by the IT admin) when the system is rebooted. After every restart, the user gets access to a system working at an optimal state. This minimizes the instances of customer dissatisfaction or operational slowdown due to system downtime.

In this age of digital transformation, keeping the operations in flow is not possible without keeping all the IT systems in a sound state. The retailers are trying their best to keep pace with the dynamics of technological advancements. Thus, it is crucial that best practices are being followed to maximize system availability for the smooth functioning of retail operations and enhancing customer experience.



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About Jose Richardson Advanced   System Admin

65 connections, 1 recommendations, 157 honor points.
Joined APSense since, October 27th, 2017, From Alabama, United States.

Created on Nov 26th 2018 05:02. Viewed 406 times.

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