Having a state-of-the-art unified commerce and mobile POS system is crucial to compete in today’s retail market. Is your infrastructure ready to support it? A strong, reliable network (with cutting-edge monitoring, dynamic channel management, traffic shaping, and more) make all the difference in the consumer experience and whether or not you’ve earned a repeat visit and their loyalty.
“When our stores were originally setup, the Internet was an afterthought as the registers were polling nightly,” says Bert Barber, Manager, POS support, PANDORA Americas. “As technology advanced and more connected devices were added to the store, we notice a great deal of issues from everything from ringing transactions, processing credit cards, and printing files. This was not only an issue due to our setup, but the many other devices broadcasting in the mall locations on top of each other. We undertook a project to update our stores with centrally managed network infrastructure, and increased Internet bandwidth. As a result, we have seen major improvements. Even in locations where the internet is poor, the proper managed infrastructure in the store has made all the difference in the performance of all of our connected devices.”
Here are five things to check for:
As salespeople and customers spend more time on mobile devices to browse and buy, the need for more bandwidth will continue to soar—especially if retailers want to deliver a positive customer experience. Total mobile data usage in the U.S. and Canada will grow by 35 percent annually through to 2021, when North America’s mobile data traffic per active smartphone will be the highest in the world, Ericsson forecast. The desire (and necessity) for faster network speeds will need to follow pace. So how much bandwidth do you need for your business? KWI recommends allocating a minimum of 512Kbps of upload and download bandwidth for each POS device. More is recommended for Apple iOS updates, email systems, and any other applications used on the POS devices.
Your POS device cannot crash or even begin to slow down—otherwise, you’ve lost your sale. Monitoring of your network is critical in order to ensure stable, consistent, and reliable connectivity. Plus, it will detect network issues in the early stages before they affect POS functionality (and your sale). Here are three to look out for: Latency, or the delay before a transfer of data begins following an instruction for its transfer (it should remain under 100ms round trip). Jitter, or the slight irregular movement or unsteadiness in an electrical signal or electronic device. High jitter can be a sign of a congestive network (it should be under 30ms). And packet loss, when your network packet does not reach its destination (it should ideally be 0%).
Redundancy is a good thing—it’s your backup secondary Internet connection to ensure uninterrupted Internet connectivity. Your primary and secondary Internet connections should be on different networks with different carriers. Regular monthly testing of all networks is highly recommended. Store networks should look to a cellular broadband backup to ease any potential anxiety over lost sales. If your DSL or cable connection fails, your network should automatically fail over to your cellular broadband connection to maintain connectivity.
4. Traffic Shaping
To improve your local network bandwidth quality, Traffic Shaping is a must. You can optimize performance and increase available bandwidth by prioritizing POS traffic over other network devices or services in the store such as surveillance cameras, telephone systems, guest networks or any devices that have streaming video and audio.
5. Access Points
Take care to ensure your store has adequate wireless coverage (wireless heat map tools can help) and that access points are strategically placed to ensure strong signal strength across the entire store. When using multiple access points, the access points should be managed by a WLAN controller, ensuring a single, unified network so that wireless devices connect to the most appropriate (usually closest) access point. Invest in your network—its quality and systems can make or break your business.