It’s a new year, which means new goals and new business challenges. As you work on plans for the year, you are probably asking the question, “What could possibly go wrong?” The answer, unfortunately, is a lot of things — but most of them are preventable with the right technology, processes, and practices.
Here are five common challenges your business may face this year:
- Power Outage. Power outages can cost businesses big bucks. Make sure you are prepared for an outage with alternate sources of power and light and the contact numbers you need to correct the problem. In the event your store or restaurant goes dark have a practiced plan for escorting shoppers out and locking up. Include in that plan a way to save as many sales as possible, such as a temporary manual system or offering to hold items for purchase once power is restored.
- Out-of-Stock Items. Customers looking for their favorite products are disappointed when they are out of stock, and according to a study by ECR Europe and Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, 20% of shoppers will go elsewhere to find the exact item they want instead of purchasing a different one. Furthermore, after the third instance of not having what the customer wants, 70% of shoppers will start shopping at other stores. It’s safe to say stock issues will hurt your bottom line. Use your point of sale system (POS) inventory management and replenishment functionality to assist with forecasting and ordering.
- Train your staff to identify potential shoplifters, and monitor these shoppers to see if they are going out of their way to avoid staff. If theft is a growing business challenge, rearrange the store layout for maximum visibility and institute inventory control and employee monitoring functions on the POS. This will help you pinpoint shrinkage and suspicious activity internally like unauthorized discounts or too many voids.
- Loss of Internet Connection. If your internet connection is spotty or unreliable, it could mean expensive downtime during the business day. Find a POS system with 100% terminal redundancy so the system will continue running if it loses connectivity. What’s more, choose a solution that works in standalone mode. Each terminal and tablet will continue to operate in a silo until the internet connection is restored. Once the connection is regained, all the data collected by the terminals during downtime would be automatically shared among the terminals and pushed to the cloud.
- Data Breach. Although it’s mainly larger companies making the news, SMBs aren’t immune to this business challenge. Any business can suffer from the results of a data breach, and Security Magazine reported that these incidents could cost an SMB up to $50,000 in fines, fraudulent charges and lost business.
The best way to overcome this challenge is with prevention. Here are some measures you can take to protect customer data and your business:
- Out of scope (OOS) payments. This strategy keeps cardholder data separate from the POS. Instead, the point of sale platform transmits the transaction amount to the card reader, which interfaces directly with the card processor and sends just the authorization information to the POS. Since the POS never transmits any sensitive cardholder information, the POS system is Out of Scope and less likely to be breached.
- EMV semi-integration. Restaurants and retailers that have been putting off EMV compliance might want to consider this approach. Like OOS payments, semi-integrated EMV functions apart from your payment terminal, keeping customer cardholder data separate from your point of sale platform and reducing the value that POS presents in the event of a breach.
- Embedded software. Point of sale platforms with embedded operating systems prevent potential thieves from stealing your data because these systems do not have the ability to run a virus, even if it has somehow gotten onto your terminal – so there’s no way to upload malware to or download data from the point of sale. By choosing this approach, you don’t need to worry about antivirus software or other costly data security measures for your POS.
The year ahead will hold many challenges and unexpected turns, but by leveraging technology and planning, you can weather these storms and return to business as usual as soon as possible.