4 Ways to Help Merchants Prevent Costly Outages
This past Father's Day, one of the nation’s largest retailers, Target, experienced an outage in their point-of-sale systems which prevented them from accepting credit card payments for over two hours. While the timeframe seemed like an eternity for both employees in the store and their customers who just wanted to check out, a 2-hour outage isn’t a horribly long time in the scale of these kinds of issues. Despite this, it’s estimated, Target lost over $50 million in revenue within that short amount of time.
While most businesses aren’t massive, when it comes to industry-dominating big-box retailers, downtime with a POS system can and will cost any merchant money, time, and frustration, not to mention the inconvenience to their customers. According to national sales manager at OptConnect Stefan Tapia in an interview with Greensheet, "there are billions lost in sales every year because merchants don't have a data backup plan.” Oftentimes, this lack of a backup plan can result in frustration with their sales representative, the ISO/agent. Tapia also noted that “ISOs and processors who don't provide data backup plans are stepping over dollars to pick up cents.”
So what can you do as an ISO or agent to ensure your merchants are prepared for this kind of issue? Here are 4 steps you can take that will ensure you’re as prepared as possible in the event of an outage.
Ensure your merchants are regularly
1. Ensure only qualified personnel work on POS systems
When trying to be cautious of costs, it’s easy for merchants to be tempted into hiring random “support technicians” to work on their POS systems. They sometimes will even let random employees who swear they know what they’re doing get involved with making adjustments and/or repairs to them. This is a practice you have to explicitly steer merchants away from. Having unqualified people work on POS systems very often leads to issues, and a big place this will show its face is in the event of an outage. Therefore it’s imperative you make sure merchants know they should only trust certified, trained technicians to work on their POS hardware and software systems. These technicians can ensure their internet is configured correctly for their system, ensure high-speed internet is used, run new cable lines or replace damaged cables, and conduct regular maintenance and checks on their systems for both software and hardware. Technicians can also train your team on how to handle small hardware and software issues like reboots, system freezes, and more.
2. Equipping merchants with the latest products
As you well know, hardware and software for POS systems are always changing and evolving. The newest innovations in the POS industry focus not only on making cooler, more tech-focused equipment but also equipment that will stand up to things like power outages and other similar issues. Their focus is to always keep the merchant up and running and accepting payments, no matter what. Therefore, ensuring that merchants are regularly upgrading to the latest hardware is the best step they can take in preventing downtime. While this can sometimes be a hard sell due to the recurring costs and inconveniences of upgrading your merchants, it is something which will benefit them in the long-run. At the very least, communicating the importance of merchants keeping up with software updates on their systems is something that can easily be done to keep the bare minimum protections in place.
3. Have a 24/7 support team who are there any time
When merchants know they have someone to call when things go wrong, it not only gives them the peace of mind they want, but it prevents you from getting frantic or panicked phone calls looking for solutions that you can’t always provide. When signing your merchants up for their systems, mentioning services like RedFynn Connect will let them know that no matter what happens or when it happens they have somewhere to turn to. This service offers a simple chat functionality for quick questions, 24/7 live video chat support for more complicated issues, and local techs on location when needed.
4. Ensure merchants have a way of tracking offline transactions
While taking steps to avoid the worst-case scenario are essential, there may be times where the worst-case scenario is the reality. Things like power outages and internet lapses do happen, and it’s important to ensure merchants and their staff are prepared for these events to avoid them from panicking and losing sales. This circles back to ensuring that merchants have the best, most up-to-date systems as possible. For example, most new systems allow you to take credit card transactions without the Internet, and will re-sync once it comes back. But what about if a location loses power altogether? Some systems like Clover’s mobile payment POS technology allow merchants to take payments from a cell phone. This wouldn’t require power or internet, as it’ll work from the phones data connection. It integrates with their main POS system, shopping cart, and billing systems so their inventory won’t get thrown off in the process. The offline mode lets them accept credit card transactions, and also ensures when the Internet & power come back on, they won’t have a total accounting nightmare on their hands.
While power and internet outages aren’t the most common concern for merchants, when they do happen they can wreak havoc on sales and stress levels of both employees and customers. In today’s world of payment solutions, there are ways to fix this, and it’s up to you to present these solutions to your merchants to keep them up, running, and happy.
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