Written by Bobby Nairn, One Step Retail Blogger | 5 MIN READ
Small to mid-sized retailers depend on their technology operating efficiently and consistently in order to remain relevant in today’s highly competitive retail landscape. For retailers not named Walmart or Target, IT resources are often limited and can be quickly overwhelmed by the demands and pressures of keeping up with changing technology and growing security threats. The digital age has helped inspire new levels of connectivity and profitability for the modern business. But, with these increased rewards brings more danger of exploitation from cybercriminals.
Cyberattacks are growing in cost, size, and impact globally. If a retailer falls behind with backups, patch updates or the latest virus definitions—odds spike significantly that an issue could threaten their business and bottom line. When you add in the daily responsibilities of maintaining a network and ensuring credit card processing is PCI compliant, it’s easy to see how quickly things can get out of control. For this reason, retailers have been recruiting the support of a Managed Service Provider with expertise in a retailer’s sophisticated environments and complex systems, deeming it vital to their success and most importantly the safety of their business.
If you aren’t yet familiar with a Managed Service Provider, an MSP essentially handles most or all of a company’s networking and infrastructure needs. They offer a variety of proactive services including 24/7 device monitoring, OS/patch/security management, virus protection, data backup, regular maintenance, and help desk support. They are responsible for the safety, security, and reliability of a retailer’s IT system, changing the approach from “finding and fixing problems” into preventing them from ever happening in the first place.
Let’s take a closer look at the top 5 reasons why retailers are teaming up with MSP’s to spoil cyberattacks…
1. BOOST SECURITY
In response to the recent wave of global Ransomware attacks, utilizing a comprehensive suite of security tools is a must for retailers taking proactive steps to ensure their data and networks are protected at all times. Simply having antivirus software and a backup drive aren't enough since most attacks are user-related (phishing, passwords, browsing, etc.) and often impact on-site backups, rendering them useless. With Secure IT Services, you can feel safe knowing your business is not only protected by industry-leading antivirus software and cloud backups, but a host of other critical tools that EVERY retailer should have to safeguard their data, networks, and customer information.
2. PROACTIVE > REACTIVE
An MSP with retail experience can leverage their industry knowledge with technology best practices to ensure that a retailer's entire IT infrastructure is in alignment with their overall retail strategy. This requires going beyond the basics to include assets such as senior-level IT consulting, dedicated Network Management, and enterprise-level accountability to ensure their IT delivers the competitive advantage and ROI required to promote success and long-term growth. These exclusive services are advantageous to retailers because it allows them to offload routine management of their entire technology infrastructure to focus more on retail operations, brand development, and business expansion.
3. BUDGET FRIENDLY
Budgeting for IT needs is one of the most challenging and overlooked aspects of any retail business. With so many other costs taking priority – merchandise, store displays, advertising, staffing – technology often takes a back seat. IT costs have a tendency to creep up on a business when they least expect it, forcing a decision and expenditure that can have a significant impact on your bottom line. A managed service provider helps address these obstacles by offering IT services with a predictable monthly fee, making it easy to budget for, and easy to manage as you scale your business. You will no longer have to break out the checkbook every time a technician is called or worry about how much money you'll spend having an issue fixed.
4. RETAIL COMPREHENSION
Retailers have been opting for a managed service provider with retail industry expertise because of their thorough understanding of a retailer’s unique needs and the relationship between IT networks and complex retail systems. But, the true differentiator between an MSP with retail knowledge from your everyday managed service provider is that they can tailor a full spectrum of IT management services specifically designed to address the needs of today’s modern retail environment. Rather than servicing a broad range of industries, an MSP that understands retail can deliver a more personalized, highly responsive IT offering explicit to the retail industry.
5. STAFFING EFFICIENCY
Most small to mid-sized retailers can’t afford to hire a qualified team of IT professionals to oversee the day-to-day management of their technology infrastructure. As a result, they end up hiring an individual who often knows just enough about networking to provide basic maintenance and support. Chances are, this person knows very little about the complexities of managing a retail environment which typically includes an intricate POS system, multiple store locations, and retail-specific peripherals like cash drawers, barcode scanners, and credit card machines. Hiring a qualified, full-time IT manager can be costly (high salaries, benefits, supplies, training) and volatile due to things like illness, paid vacations or a better offer from another company. An MSP, similar to One Step Secure IT, addresses these issues by providing an entire team of certified technology experts who are reliable, effective and understand the unique requirements of managing a modern retail environment.
Retailers suffered more than 4000 security incidents in 2017 alone, en route to ranking as the most breached sector. Many of these successful cyberattacks resulted in retailers going out of business, predictably due to a loss of customers that have cited damaged trust. Nearly 20% of customers would completely stop shopping with a particular brand and 1/3 of customers would steer clear of the brand for an extended period of time.
In 2018, researchers uncovered that 75% of retailers had experienced a data breach at some point in their history, 50% within the past year, and 26% on multiple occasions. While retailers storing sensitive data in the cloud has become more popular, only 1/4 of retailers have implemented encryption, leaving customer data extremely vulnerable to hackers. There’s no denying how much change the retail landscape has undergone in order to meet the demands of today’s connected consumer. While securing a retailer’s environment and protecting important customer data can seem like a near-impossible task, there are people anxiously waiting to help.
If you are a retailer limited by resources or in need of a helping hand, Say Hello to the One Step Secure IT Team. With more than 30 years of retail industry expertise, a deep understanding of payment systems, omnichannel strategies, and sophisticated retail technologies, both in-store and online—One Step Secure IT is the right choice for your modern retail environment, learn more by saying hello.