The days of simple brick-and-mortar stores are long gone. No more cash-only registers or isolated branches communicating with each other via one port. Instead, e-commerce has skyrocketed, and, as Martin Hodgson, head of UK & Ireland, Paessler explains, retailers are feeling the pressure to make both the in-store and online experience more rewarding.
Now, with consumers more connected than ever, there is little margin for error when it comes to maintaining the customer experience. As leading retailers such as Amazon are demonstrating, the high-costs associated with IT downtime (between USD$72m/£56bn and USD$99m/£77bn), it’s imperative that retailers understand the role of network monitoring and how it could make or break a brand. Here, I’ll explore the importance of network monitoring, highlighting the benefits of preventing networking issues before they lead to consumer complaints and showcasing why retailers such as Pepe Jeans are adopting the technology.
Today’s hyper-connectivity means retailers are now operating in a world where consumers expect the ultimate customer experience. As a result, the age of retail has drastically changed from the isolated store experience to multi-store and online capability. But, with so much connectivity afoot, it’s not enough for retailers to simply link their physical stores and run a website – they must now ensure that the connection remains strong across all entities. From LAN links to WAN links, retailers need to ensure optimum connectivity at all times – or risk losing both customer loyalty and revenue as a result of IT downtime. Events that lead to customers threatening to cancel their subscriptions could be cataclysmic for smaller e-commerce sites so, in a world of rapidly increasingly connectivity, how can retailers ensure they remain ‘on the ball’?
Enter network monitoring
Network monitoring provides IT teams with clarity and insight into what is a hugely complicated entity. Instead of facing website crashes and glitchy servers, a good network monitoring tool helps IT teams take back control by continuously monitoring devices, alerting to potential faults and therefore preventing future downtime. In turn, this insight allows the team to think strategically rather than filling their time trying to resolve simple errors that could ultimately cost the business.
By providing baseline metrics, network monitoring empowers businesses to make informed decisions based on real facts – meaning they can save money by replacing only what truly needs to be, plan effectively for growth, and purchase accordingly.
So, how can retailers use network monitoring technology to prevent downtime and optimise the customer experience?
The largest problem for retailers is that many were established before this age of hyper-connectivity and are, therefore, operating on legacy IT systems that aren’t capable of maintaining today’s connected pace. Take Pepe Jeans, for instance, since its establishment in 1973, the clothing retailer has progressively adopted devices to keep up with consumer demand and better the customer experience. But the brand’s legacy infrastructure simply couldn’t maintain the pace at which the business has been growing. With a rising online community and close to 400 stores in remote locations (each store usually has at least three devices such as an access point, switch, or router), the brand realised it needed to evaluate its complex network to ensure continued efficiency. As a result, the team sought software that monitors and maintains the bandwidth and health status of its network.
Xavier Marchador, senior IT network engineer, Pepe Jeans, says: “The main reasons for implementing monitoring software were to establish a network base line, track the health status of devices, monitor bandwidth usage in communication lines, and create weather maps with live information of remote delegations.”
Pepe Jeans now uses 6,000 sensors to monitor both LAN and WAN, as well as a remote probe to monitor all locations. The company has also replaced devices that were constantly triggering alarms and requesting WAN lines review due to interface flapping in communication devices. So now, with the help of network monitoring, Pepe Jeans can check the health status of each device, pinpointing the source of network issues before any potential downtime – preventing customer frustration and loss in revenue.
As IoT and e-commerce continue to reshape the retail environment, it will become increasingly important for brands to stay online – all the time. Maintaining a competitive edge will rely on how ready a brand is to receive and process orders, communicate across the network, and respond to complaints and issues. Effective network monitoring helps ensure uptime and ensure that customers can always find what they are looking for, leading to better customer support and a stronger brand identity in the long run.