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Five Tips to Prep Your Network for the Holiday Shopping Season

Getting your retail network ready for the holiday

The retail experience has changed forever with more options for in-person and digital commerce at even the smallest shops. If you’re like most retailers, you’ve navigated dramatic changes in your digital footprint. You may have rolled out new in-location experiences, pop-up shops, mobile point of sale (POS) systems, or SMS messaging platforms—all of which rely on a network connection. But if you haven’t readied your store’s network to handle high-volume digital traffic and transactions, you may not feel too jolly when December arrives.

Here are five tips to help prepare your network for the busy season ahead.

  1. Check your connections. Delivering a dynamic and engaging customer experience demands a strong network that is both high performing and highly available. Verify that your connections can handle your unique mix of bandwidth intensive applications, along with the season’s higher volume of shoppers (who may use Guest Wi-Fi) and POS transactions. Consider back-up connectivity to guard against outages. Robust network performance during peak shopping hours helps deliver faster checkout at the register—ultimately eliminating long lines and creating a better customer experience.

  2. Test and troubleshoot often. Assess your network performance frequently during the holiday season so you can identify and solve issues quickly. Some troubling signs that your network is struggling under higher seasonal volume include: slow transactions, growing lines, dropped Wi-Fi signals, apps that don’t open, error messages, inability to process payments, frustrated employees and customer complaints.

  3. Focus on security. With more devices, third-party providers, shoppers and employees on the network, the network “attack surface” expands, making it more vulnerable to security breaches. It’s no wonder cybercriminals also get busy during the holiday season. Darktrace security researchers discovered a 30% increase in the average number of attempted ransomware attacks over the holiday season. They also established a 70% percent average increase in attempted ransomware attacks in the months of November and December, compared to January and February. To reduce your risk, consider deploying enterprise-grade security tools that are continuously updated, rather than an off-the-shelf consumer-grade security product.

  4. Don’t delay. One common mistake retailers make is not building in enough time to prepare for busy season. Best practices include assessing each location’s networking needs, mapping out any new hardware or software, and testing and troubleshooting implementations before the big buying season begins. If that sounds familiar, take this as a sign to start readying your network today.

  5. Ask for help. If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you fear you’ve run out of time to ready your network, consider partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) like Hughes that knows what it takes to design, configure, deploy, maintain and optimize a network. An MSP should also be able to handle temporary technologies to support pop-ups or surge requirements. With an MSP partner to handle the deployment and operation of network technologies, you can take the guessing out of ramping up for the holidays and delivering the type of in-location experience your customers expect and appreciate.

Want more useful tips? Download our Executive Guide to the Future In-Store Retail Experience to learn actionable advice on how you can adapt your in-store strategy for the next retail economy once the holidays are over. Find your copy here.