IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 24 Oct 2011

Rehearsals: not just for actors

DanWith squeezed IT budgets a reality within the retail industry, it can be hard for IT Directors to justify not automatically buying into the perceived cheapest option for Data Centre hosting. If their preferred supplier does not provide decision-makers with the lowest quotation, they may be forced to weigh up the potential costs the different providers will have upon their operations, in order to make up their minds.

Regardless of the size of budget you have allocated for Disaster Recovery, it is imperative to set aside a proportion for rehearsals. However sound your backup processes and the due diligence you conducted as part of your Business Continuity strategy, unexpected issues will inevitably emerge during rehearsals. You do not want to be unpleasantly surprised by any element of your Disaster Recovery procedure when you are faced with a real incident; so it’s well worth going through this in advance. By proving that you have invested time in rehearsals and attesting to your preparedness, a Data Centre supplier may be able to influence a reduction in your insurance premiums.

When returning to live systems operations following a Disaster Recovery procedure, the type of problem that retailers often face is that of finding that critical data such as sales figures has been duplicated. In today’s multichannel world where sales information is utilised by the retailer’s website, concessions and ‘bricks and mortar’ stores, and is fed between the different channels, this is a real issue. Incorrect data may result in misleading sales information. This can affect future buying and allocation decisions, which have a knock-on effect in lost sales via any of these routes to market, ultimately affecting the retailer’s bottom line.

Suppliers have to take into account the high-performance, high-availability demands of modern retail. Due to the rise in internet shopping, e-commerce and m-commerce sales can occur at any time of the day or night. This means that outages taking place outside of traditional trading hours have more of an impact than they previously did.

Within the retail industry, downtime is no longer tolerated. The longer the duration of the outage, the less likely retailers are to be able to fulfil home delivery or ‘click and collect’ options within a pre-agreed time slot, ultimately leading to dissatisfaction amongst their customer base.  As retailers know too well, a dissatisfied customer is a dangerous one, not only because they are less likely to purchase again but also because they may share their negative experience with friends and family, or via social networking platforms. No company wants to encounter failure but, with the right forward planning and the right ‘valuable’ partner, the ultimate risk to your business can be minimised.

Is your IT department suitably rehearsed for every eventuality? Please post your comments below.

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