As we wrote here in the Mako Newsroom in early December, the shopping boom around Christmastime was a major boon for retailers and businesses. But one example from just after Christmas stuck out amongst the news stories of increased shopper activity this year.
Retailers at a shopping mall near Wellington in New Zealand were beset by a payment network outage on December 26 (Boxing Day)—possibly the busiest shopping day of the entire calendar year—that left them unable to process payments from customers. As reported by Fairfax, customers were quickly frustrated by long checkout times, with some simply walking out on potential purchases while other merchants switched over to cash-only operations until dial-up backup connections could engage or the outage was resolved.
It’s easy to look at this as simply a one-off event, or minor inconvenience for shoppers intent on snagging a good bargain in the post-Christmas markdowns. But for retailers that depend on maximizing the revenue of this shopping time to keep them afloat later in slower periods, it cost real money and will put a dent in their financials for the period.
Moreover, it’s a situation that was avoidable. When we designed the most recent variant of our award-winning Mako 6500 network appliance, it was a priority to create a built-in 3G wireless connection so merchants that rely on our service to connect them to the Internet have a fast, reliable backup connection on standby. It’s enabled Mako to offer a true ‘non-stop retail’ solution, where merchants are never left in the position of having to turn away business because their fixed-line Internet connection has let them down.
Using the Mako System, when the primary network connection is disrupted or goes down, the Mako appliance automatically switches over to a 3G backup connection to keep your payments flowing. When the primary connection returns, the Mako returns to the primary connection. All this happens without any intervention by staff, and email alerts help keep users informed of their network status, whether in failover or normal mode. And while some businesses in the Wellington mall had to wait for their slower dial-up connections to engage, Mako uses a fast 3G connection—just like your smartphone—to quickly swap between connection types.
This fast connection speed in backup mode is especially critical for processing chip-and-PIN (EMV) cards. In contrast to magnetic-stripe cards, EMV cards require more data to process each transaction, because the embedded microchips need to transmit encrypted data during an authorization. Over a slow dial-up connection, that amount of data can take up to a minute to process. And in an outage situation, that won’t help move the shoppers through any faster.