Guest Column | May 4, 2016

Why Retail's Reliance On Online Connectivity Calls For Network Resilience

Gary Marks, President, Opengear

By Gary Marks, President, Opengear

They say the retail business is all about connections – forming bonds with customers to supply the goods we desire alongside experiences that keep us coming back for more. This really takes on a new meaning in today’s retail environment, though, thanks to modern retail systems enabled by online connectivity. The digital age has handed retailers more capable POS systems, more insightful and powerful management over their inventory and supply chain, more efficient employee utilization, and more data-driven CRM systems and customer loyalty programs. All of these result in superior service and experiences for customers. However, like the proverbial golden statue supported by feet of clay, the foundation supporting these perks of the modern retailer – online connectivity – often hides vulnerability. For many retailers, their connectivity is lacking a level of resilience needed to keep stores running no matter what. Today’s retail businesses must recognize the importance of network resilience and prepare their storefronts to carry on uninterrupted even when primary Internet connections fail – because it’s a matter of when, not if.

Retreating to doing business without functioning networks – for example, accepting cash and managing inventory with pen and paper – is no longer an option at most retail locations. Today, business activity comes to a swift halt at stores where the Internet goes down, and the outages can be devastating. Gartner estimates the cost of network downtime for businesses to average $5,600 per minute.