Network resiliency is a critical consideration for any retailer looking to stay ahead of the competition. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of network resiliency in the retail industry and how it can help retailers deliver a better customer experience.
In the highly competitive retail industry, maintaining a reliable and efficient network infrastructure is crucial. Retailers need to provide seamless and uninterrupted services to their customers, from online shopping to in-store experiences. Network outages or disruptions can lead to lost sales, dissatisfied customers, and damage to a retailer’s reputation.
What does a retail network consist of?
Retail businesses have varied operations, ranging from eCommerce and in-store experiences to logistics and distribution. While some retail companies operate solely via the Internet, many retailers operate across both the eCommerce and in-person shopping sectors. Inevitably, this increases the demand on their networks and means that advanced solutions are required to deliver an optimal customer experience.
While every retail network can differ, a typical retail network may cover a variety of functions, such as:
- Supply chain management
- eCommerce website
- In-store payment portals
- In-the-field payment facilities
- Distribution and logistics
With so many varied functions and potentially global operations, it’s clear that retail networks need to be robust and network resilience should be a top priority for all retail brands.
What is network resilience?
Network resilience refers to a network’s vulnerability to failure or disruption, which can have a catastrophic impact on retail operations. If a network is not resilient, it may suffer regular downtime, slow speeds and/or data loss.
The consequences of poor network resilience can damage a retailer’s reputation and performance, particularly when sales are lost due to malfunctioning in-store payment portal or website inaccessibility. The subsequent poor user experience (UX) may dissuade customers from making a purchase or returning to the site, thus compounding the loss.
Conversely, high network resilience ensures that the network is at low or no risk of failure or disruption. It remains invulnerable to potential issues, often due to the use of workable failovers that provide back-up solutions when primary connections fail.
So, now we’ve covered resilient network meaning, it’s time to take a look at how retail companies can strengthen their networks to optimise the customer experience and enhance commercial performance.
Building a resilient network for the retail industry
Before determining which technologies to use as the basis for your network, it’s important to assess your current and future operations. After all, selecting scalable solutions that can grow with your retail business will ensure that your network is futureproofed and primed for success.
To do this, you’ll need to consider where and how your company operates. Do rural warehouse locations mean a fixed line connection is an impossibility, for example? Will you introduce checkout-less stores that bill customers directly? Are you increasing warehouse automation to increase efficiency and shipping times?
As technology evolves, the retail environment becomes more flexible, and the customer experience can be improved in a variety of different ways. To capitalise on these opportunities, however, you’ll need to have a resilient network to underpin your operations.
Increasing resilience with mobile connectivity
For many retail companies, the use of mobile broadband is a viable, efficient and cost-effective way to maximise functionality and create a high resilience network. As a recent case study showed, using 4G connectivity to transmit data and facilitate the use of more than 1,000 payment terminals. Whilst portable payment terminals allow retailers to leverage the opportunities presented by in-the-field sales and pop-up stores, these can also be used in a traditional in-store environment to enhance the customer experience and reduce queue times.
However, data SIMs and mobile connectivity can facilitate more than payment terminals. Today’s retailers are capitalising on the functionality and insights that data transfers can offer. From gathering real-time customer behaviour data and facilitating checkout-less billing to managing stock and distributing orders, IoT and M2M (machine-to-machine) communication is key to developing a successful retail model.
By using data SIMs with access to all four UK networks – Vodafone, O2, EE and Three – retailers can increase the resilience of their own network and ensure that, if one network becomes unavailable or suffers from low signal, another network can be selected to ensure operations continue to run seamlessly.
While a mobile signal checker will tell you which network delivers the best signal in your operating location(s), having access to all UK networks ensures you have a failover in place in case of network disruptions and, therefore, an always on connection type that enhances network wireless functionality.
Combining Internet connections for increased resilience
While mobile connectivity is often a great solution for retailers, it doesn’t have to be used in isolation. In fact, combining more than one internet connection can allow you to enhance the performance of your network, as well as increasing its resilience.
Known as ‘bonded internet’, this involves combining one or more connections into a single pipeline. If you combine two 1GB connections via bonded internet, for example, you benefit from 2GB download speeds.
Crucially, bonded internet always performs well under network resilience testing as you have a secondary connection to rely on if one connection fails.
When you choose to combine different types of connection, such as a fixed line with 5G mobile connectivity, this further enhances the robustness of your network. As different types of connections are less likely to be affected by the same performance issues, you can have increased confidence in your ‘always on connection’.
Creating custom solutions for your retail business
At Comms365, we’re committed to creating bespoke solutions that meet our clients’ needs and enable you to achieve your objectives. Whether you’re a retail startup or a successful enterprise, our connectivity solutions will provide a resilient and robust network that helps to deliver an enhanced customer experience and, in turn, optimises your performance.
To find out more, contact our experienced team now on 01234 865880 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org