When a power cut strikes at home, while it can be inconvenient, it is rarely the end of the world. But in a retail environment, an IT or power outage could spell disaster, leaving shops unable to fulfil their sole purpose - to trade.
In this article, sponsored by Emerson Network Power, we take a look at some of the ways retailers can be left in the lurch with no power backup, and crucially, how this translates into a business opportunity for resellers.
Perhaps the most obvious dilemma a retailer might have if they suffer an IT and power outage is that their till will no longer be operational. Queuing customers will unlikely stick around while the retailer solves the problem, and even if they did, their dedication is hardly much use if the till won't open or card machines won't work.
"You can't take money off someone if your till goes down," Emerson Network Power's EMEA marketing director Simon Blake said. "It's not like an old-fashioned till anymore - it's all electronic - either the till itself or the EPOS system it's connected to. What are the risks? Finance, security, reputational damage."
Ensuring stock is secure is essential for all retailers, and CCTV acts as a great way of deterring potential thieves and tracing those which do steal. But if the power goes out, so does the CCTV, which Emerson Network Power's Blake said can cause issues outside the building, on the shop floor and the even the stock room.
"This is probably more important in a large store," he said. "If you are in a supermarket stock room, there are security cameras in there to stop staff stealing things. If they think the power is down they can start putting Hobnobs down their trousers with impunity. But also for any store it's important for internal or external [CCTV] too, especially out of hours."
Having a free WiFi connection is becoming as important to coffee shop and restaurant goers as the menu itself. If the power goes out and takes the WiFi with it, it can turn off potential customers faster than a curdled cappuccino.
"If you've got people sitting in a Starbucks drinking a skinny mochaccino with their MacBook Pro, their record bags, and fixie bikes outside, they're simply not going to stay there if the WiFi goes down," said Blake.
In the day-to-day running of a retail outlet, fire doors might be the last thing on business owners' minds. But during a power outage, if the electrical components on a fire door mean it malfunctions, it could cause serious problems.
"Even if you can't be bothered to have your fire doors backed up, for the purpose of your insurance policy and for health and safety purposes, you have to," Blake said.
Larger retailers with multiple stores will often have server rooms on site, collecting transaction data and keeping that store's IT running. But without that, crucial sales data can be lost, which Blake said can be problematic.
"If you have a large store and you have a server room there, you need to be able to back up the IT equipment in there to protect against data loss," he said.
What's in it for the channel?
Blake added that there is a huge opportunity for resellers working in the retail space - and those which are new to the market - to help their customers protect themselves from losing money, time and even reputational damage from an IT or power outage.
He said uninterruptable power supply (UPS) products can be a compelling value proposition that partners can take to a sector with tens of thousands of customers to serve.
"A UPS is like an insurance policy," he said. "You have insurance on your car and you think ‘I've been driving for five years, why do I need insurance?' But it's an insurance policy against the unexpected. If you look at western Europe, you probably can't remember when you last had a power outage in your house. Grid Power is really, very stable and it is very rare to have a power cut. However, they can happen not just because the grid goes down, but natural disasters or construction work can sometimes damage cables or knock poles down, or drill through something.
"It doesn't matter the reason for the risk, if you're not prepared for it, for the sake of a moderate investment you could make in a UPS, you could suffer a big downside from lost revenue, lost reputation, inconvenienced customers and having to close your business for a period of time."
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