Saturday, August 25, 2012

Retail: What Happens if the Cloud Crashes?

What is the Cloud
While a retailer has information on their POS system, getting your various computers to talk to one another (store to store, station to station) and in real time is made possible by Cloud POS, also known as web-based POS.

Instead of your data saving to a server in the back office or to the machine you are working on, the data gets pushed up through a network connection (usually the internet) to “the cloud”. “Cloud” refers to the very large servers that are typically located in strategic locations with their own security.

If you are going to be running multiple stores you will need to be giving and receiving information seamlessly and in real time, cloud POS makes this possible. Other key reasons for considering the cloud is the recently popular concept of “agility”, you can go anywhere and check in on how things are going and your individual stores will avoid costly errors by having current data. Cloud also brings in an increased level of safety from data loss, protecting you from in house system crashes or catastrophes where all of your records could be lost.

Having a cloud based system opens the door to several features and increased management capabilities; overall it is a fantastic technological advancement.

If They Can Do It, So Can We
Like many new advancements, inexpensive versions crop up. A consistent rash of new POS solutions cross my path, many are charging less than you spend on your cable bill for a monthly subscription per station. The systems are typically pared down versions of a complete POS, simple features and sleek interfaces. The full system is all set up so that both the retailer and the software provider can avoid additional costs. The retailer gets the rights to the software and with a mobile device in hand you can get your retail store rolling. Note, most cloud based POS solutions are storing all of your data in the cloud.

What Happens if the Cloud Falls
Unfortunately, we have been getting a large quantity of calls from retailers who have been down for (at worst) days after their cloud based point of sale system crashes. Most recently a fairly major cloud based point of sale system has been down for over 3 days, with hundreds of retailers being forced to manually write receipts and manage their store blind. They would have no access to their data (inventory, reporting, records, etc), opening them up to massive theft and of course countless lost sales. This has left retailers dead in the water. Bouncing back from a system crash can be very difficult and could put the final nail in the coffin for dozens of those retailers. This is not an appealing prospect and is not a situation we wish on any retailer.

I recently saw one such company recommend having a system like Square as a backup in case their system crashes (because, you know, these things happen and there is nothing they could do about it) so that you can continue to do business (ring up charges, then manually keep track of everything else).
The Solution
Since the cloud is a solution to in-house system crashes it may beg the question, how can your information be truly secure? What happens if you are somehow disconnected from the cloud?
The answer is simple, a LAYERED approach. It is safe to say, that things can go wrong at any level and you cannot leave your central nervous system without a backup plan.

When Teamwork Retail launched their cloud based system several years before it was popularized, they not only created backup locations strategically across the country for all of your data in the cloud, but the data is ALSO stored on the hardware in store. They didn’t knock out the back office like many cloud based POS systems; they keep that in place and fully functioning so that you can ALWAYS access your data. The data is yours; you have it in house at all times and have a two pronged, surefire approach to data security.

So what happens if the cloud crashes?  Your Team(work) will protect you!

Click HERE for more information on Teamwork Retail.

One Step Retail Solutions is ranked as one of the top resellers and service providers for some of the most comprehensive and state of the art retail POS software solutions in the industry. For a free retail technology consultation, click HERE.