Time spent wisely: How an MSP can help retailers get ahead

As the pace of business continues to accelerate and technology becomes ever-more entrenched in our day to day lives, the challenge for business owners is no longer just to be better, faster, stronger: it’s about being smarter and safer.

In particular, retail technology has evolved by leaps and bounds. Interactive, mobile and point-of-sale innovations have enabled retailers to discover deeper customer insights, improve service and lower trade boundaries.  But it has also become a disrupter, putting retailers under pressure to keep up with rapid change in the race to remain competitive. And where there’s pressure, there’s often a problem waiting to happen.

Many store owners strive to maintain their own IT systems. Fast implementation and cost saving are often the key drivers. But in reality, self-management of store technology is often not what the retailer does best, and it takes them away from more important, revenue related activities like sales and marketing. It can also put them at risk of cyber-crime due to network flaws, and compliance breaches caused by mishandled data.

Fortunately, there is a way to untangle the ravel of technology many retailers find themselves in. From in-store beacons that trigger push messages to customers’ smartphones to refrigeration systems and CCTV, a managed service provider (MSP) can streamline, integrate and secure the increasingly diverse range of systems used by today’s retailers.

Three key areas a managed service provider can help include:

  1. Compliance

According to 2017 research by the Reserve Bank of Australia, cards now account for more than 60% of retail payments. This behavioral shift places a growing responsibility on the shoulders of retailers, who must adhere to strict Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance requirements for handling, transfer, and storage of customer card data.

An MSP can provide peace of mind for retailers by establishing and maintaining secure systems and a robust backup process, including the right level of data encryption, to satisfy these requirements.

  1. Network security

The Internet of Things (IoT), whereby Wi-Fi capable devices are connected to the internet and to each other, has impacted retail in a big way – and it’s not likely to slow down! However, as retailers ‘bolt-on’ more systems and equipment to improve productivity, set smarter sales and marketing goals and enhance the customer experience, it becomes harder to preserve security and integrity.

A managed service provider can ensure the right combination of public (cloud) and private infrastructure and applications are implemented to provide flexibility and safety whilst also optimising data capture and integration.  Retailers can then extract more meaningful insights and save time previously spent double-handling data or worrying about system security.

  1. Different vendors

From produce scales to printers, registers to chicken rotisserie ovens, the diversity of smart devices now in retail stores also presents a challenge for retailers in managing many different vendors.

An MSP can provide an independent, expert review of current agreements, contractors, and vendors to ensure each is in the retailer’s best interests. They can also manage these relationships and if necessary, procure vendors and licenses that better fit the retailer’s needs, budget and business objectives.

The Internet of Things and our growing preference for cash-free purchasing is rapidly reshaping Australia’s retail environment. Retailers everywhere are taking their cue from consumers, embracing smarter tools and systems in the drive to deliver better service, reduce overheads and derive better data. But to leverage these tools and systems, whilst also satisfying customer expectations and staying secure and compliant is an onerous task – and one best left in the hands of an expert! Partnering with an MSP can help retailers reclaim valuable time, save money and maintain customer confidence whilst taking advantage of everything these exciting new technologies have to offer.

If change and meeting your customers’ needs is a constant, doing nothing isn’t an option. Be sure you are partnering with a company with the depth and breadth of expertise you require. Particularly one who can help you navigate end-to-end managed services, cloud, mobile and paperless retail technology. GPK Retail consultant, Cordell Quaine, is available for a no-obligation discussion on how GPK can help you reduce operational costs, manage your IT footprint more effectively and create an exceptional experience for your customers. Contact: Phone 1300 000 475 or email for more information.

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