All businesses rely on the internet for their operations, no matter what industry they're in. Both internal and external networks are required to keep a company running, and those networks depend on a strong internet connection. Your store's network supports everything from the email system to the telephone lines so that they function properly. As a business owner, you cannot expand your customer base, nor communicate with employees, vendors, partners, and even the competition without a thoroughly networked system supported by the internet.

Communications come to a screeching halt when a business's internet goes down. Because your company's networks all rely on the internet, operations will cease if the internet connection is lost. And if you own a retail store, the impact of a down network can become devastating depending on how long it takes you to get your system back online.

More than 50% of companies experienced a downtime event in the past five years that was longer than a full workday.

The unfortunate and unavoidable reality is that sooner or later, you will face an internet downtime event at your business. Depending on the severity and duration of the downtime, this could have serious ramifications for your business in regard to credit card transactions and processing at your point of sale terminals. In this article, we're going to take a look at what could happen during a network failure at your retail store, how your POS could be affected, and what you can do right now to prevent being down and offline as a result of disaster striking.

Unplanned downtime can cost up to $17,244 per minute, with a low-end estimate of $926 per minute.

When your retail store's internet connection stops working, your store's network ultimately fails, but that doesn't mean that it's shut off. Likely, your network will automatically shift into an offline mode. Communications such as the data relationship between your credit card terminals and processor could remain, however internet-supported verification processes will no longer be available, such as verifying that a customer's credit or debit card has enough funds to cover the charges, and verifying that a credit or debit card has not been flagged as stolen. What this means is that if you attempt to conduct business as usual in "offline mode", you run a very real risk of not being able to properly collect those funds.

In situations of connectivity failure, your point of sale system will also be vulnerable since it's the hub of your payment processing system, and working in offline mode, as we mentioned, comes with significant risks.

Preparation and practice for a system-wide down event is really the key here. You don't want to be unprepared nor taken by surprise. The best tactic a retailer like yourself can implement is to get ahead of the situation in the first place to mitigate the potential damages and reduce the financial impact.

If you're reading this article because you're in the unexpected midst of a network failure, then we recommend that you immediately determine if you are experiencing a network issue or an issue with your POS. This is an important distinction to make.

If you know the failure is due to an internet outage, then you can take measures to get back online, including restarting your modem and router, or contacting your IPS for a resolution. At times, simply resetting the router can switch the power cycle to reconnect, which corrects the network issue. If this is the case at your store, however, we strongly recommend that you contact your POS provider to assist you so that you do not lose any data.

Alternatively, if you have confirmed that the internet connection is sound, but you're experiencing a POS network failure, you'll first need to determine if all of the POS terminals are affected or just one.

If only one terminal seems to be affected, you are very likely dealing with a hardware issue. Check for a loose cable at the POS switch / router and also at the terminal itself. It's possible you'll need to replace faulty hardware such as a cable or wire, but at least you can continue your business operations at the other checkout registers.

If you discover that all of your terminals are affected, and you've also determined that the network failure is not due to the internet being down altogether, then the safest option for your data and operations is to contact your POS provider. It's highly probable that you have an issue involving the POS server or its associated router. 

Hardware failures cause 45% of total unplanned downtime, followed by power outages (35%), software failure (34%), data corruption (24%), external security breaches (23%), and accidental user error (20%).

Clearly, if you are in the midst of a down network, you don't want to have to rely on your POS provider solving the network failure quickly. Of course, it would be ideal if they could solve the issue in a matter of minutes, but you can't assume that they'll be able to.

The only failsafe you should rely on is having an alternative system in place already as a backup.

96% of businesses that have a disaster recovery solution in place fully recover their operations.

The best disaster recovery system will take you from "failure" to "failover" in a matter of milliseconds. What is a network "failover"? This term refers to a secondary, backup system that kicks into place as soon as the primary one fails. The business's operations can therefore "switch over" to the secondary system that has been in the background, capturing and mirroring data and operations.

The best failover systems are automatic, but some of them can also be manual. The purpose is to provide a backup operational mode that supports all system functions such as processors, servers, networks, and databases. You might have heard of this referred to as "redundancy". For a more in-depth look at disaster recovery and implementing backup systems, we recommend you check out our recent article Data Backup & Recovery.

The most important point to understand about failover, redundancy, and disaster recovery is that it will run your POS during a server, network, or internet failure. Data redundancy, backup, and disaster recovery, as failover systems, are offered by many POS providers. That being said, if your retail store's POS does not have a failover in place at the moment, then it's likely that your POS provider simply doesn't offer it.

The specialists at FasTrax will be the first to tell you that you must implement a backup system if you don't already have one. You cannot afford to go without, even if your network is using the cloud already. The cloud is not a backup system.

There are providers that can set up backup & disaster recovery and network failover systems at your store even if you already have a POS installed at your location. But not all network failover solutions are created equal.

Next, we will walk you through the functions and features to look for in a failover system that will give your POS the best chances of not losing data or revenue during an internet connectivity interruption or disaster.

In order to avoid network outage business interruptions, you'll want to choose a backup system that retrofits your network infrastructure for cellular network access. This will enable you to continue to transfer critical data, complete transactions, and keep your connected devices secure. As an added bonus, if your store has standalone mobile kiosks, digital signage, and other connected devices, these too will be protected and continue to run smoothly.

An ideal failover solution should have the following four features:

  • • Simplified Integration--choose a network failover solution that calls for simplified integration and one that can be easily located and mounted where cellular reception is the strongest.
  • • Certified Connectivity Options--your failover system should come with cellular extenders that feature not only multiple carrier support but also multiple WAN connectivity options such as ethernet or cellular. By including load balancing and failover capabilities, your backup system should offer 4G LTE.
    • • Upgradeable with 4G LTE Plug-In Modems & Dual Sim Support--no matter the size of your business or the amount of transactions at your store, you need network failover that can handle supporting the breadth of your data, which means you need the best, fastest technology, i.e. 4G.
    • • Centralized Device Management--choose a failover that offers a centralized management platform. You need easy setup, configuration, and support so look for a solution provider that can assist you before, during, and after deployment.

Power outages happen, as we mentioned at the beginning of this article, and when DSL and Cable network outages occur, it's imperative to have a failover in place at your retail store so that you can access your network, and process credit and debit cards during the outage. FasTrax Solutions provides a reliable Verizon failover modem, which attaches to your store location's internet router. In the event that you lose your internet connection, Verizon Wireless's 4G LTE connection will continue your operations and transactions seamlessly. You might not even realize your primary system went down, our failover is that smooth.

If you would like to learn more about FasTrax MSP and never again experience transaction slowdowns or lose sales because of internet connection issues, then Contact Us today. Get peace of mind, knowing that regardless of your internet's reliability, your business operations will continue as usual.