Either way, there’s likely room for improvement, and 2019 could be the best time to make some changes that can make a big difference. Here are a few questions to ask yourself, to find out where your weak areas are so you can start strengthening them.
1. Is your IT infrastructure built the way it should be?
The amount and types of technology you’re currently taking advantage of will mean different things for your underlying infrastructure. However, on average, retail companies are starting to use newer tech like IoT, access points and mobile beacons, in addition to the standard of solid wireless technologies. As a result, it might be a good idea to consider investing in better WAN/LAN, telecommunications and software-defined networking options.
You also should take some time to re-evaluate how your data storage is built. Are you all in the cloud, or are you using a hyperconvergence and hybrid cloud solution? The volume of data retailers are now storing and processing requires that your data storage be purposefully built to accommodate it all. If you’re unsure that your infrastructure is built the way it should be, we can help you figure that out.
2. Are you set up to scale - or experience outages?
Every retailer wants to scale, but not all of them are ready to do so from a tech perspective. As a related piece of the infrastructure puzzle mentioned above, you need to make sure your systems are built to grow. Retail Dive recently noted the five biggest problem factors that retailers face with their technology when they experience a surge in business. These include slow third-party apps, poor-performing APIs, overweight web pages, lack of server scalability and the tendency of retailers not to drill down to monitor regional performance.
If you’re intentional about your website strategy and consistent in your performance management, all of these factors should be well-known and well-prepared for growth. But if not, we recommend spending some time delving into each area so you can understand which might prohibit your scalability, or cause an outage, should a business start thriving.
3. How strong is your security?
Of course, we can’t discuss technical support without touching on security. A recent study found that security threats have seen a dramatic increase in the past year(s). In the U.S, a staggering 75% of retailers have reported a data breach, with half of those unfortunate events taking place in the last year. Depending on the severity, a data breach can mean everything in between massive fines and losing consumer trust. Globally, 60% of retailers have reported at least one security breach in the past. Security must be top on the list for any business handling their customers' data.
Even if you think your security measures are top-notch, it’s worth taking another look at them to be sure. Retailers today need to invest in next-generation firewalls, identity and access management, physical security and incident response systems. You also must make sure you’re up to date on all important certifications, like PCI DSS. Or you can choose a partner that already has the expertise to make this a seamless process for your enterprise, allowing you to focus on strenghtening your company's market footprint.
4. Is your tech causing damage to revenue and customer service?
Poor technical support can translate to outages, point-of-sale interruptions and other problems that disrupt potential sales. The result? Unhappy customers and a high probability of lost revenue. Even if you don’t have the numbers today to prove that poor tech is at least partially behind dwindling sales or dissatisfaction in customer service, it’s worth investigating because it’s a solvable problem.
5. Who’s watching out for issues?
Finally, are you monitoring your technology for hiccups or outages? Or are you working with a team who is? Either way, is somebody dedicated to monitoring your technical support 24/7? If the answer is no, this is one of the first areas that needs to change. We can help you monitor your technologies around the clock with our NOC engineers, managed services, ongoing management, and transparent reporting.
Wherever you stack up in terms of technical support for your retail brand, we’d love to help you improve and be your partner in handling your technical support. Please contact us to learn more