Managed IT Services for the Retail Industry
The retail space continues to evolve on the technology front. This article will explore the benefits of managed IT services for the retail industry.
The retail industry has experienced significant growth over the past few decades as it has expanded its reach through e-commerce in addition to brick-and-mortar stores. In 2021, the global market enjoyed total revenues of $26 trillion, and it is expected to reach global retail sales of more than $30 trillion by 2024. Major stakeholders in the retail industry have adopted an omnichannel approach through which they seamlessly integrate their online and offline channels. Small retailers have also incorporated online sales as a way to reach more customers than what might exist in their local markets.
The changes in the retail industry and its explosive growth both on- and offline have increased the importance of IT solutions and smart cybersecurity to protect sensitive customer information and ensure a smooth transaction experience. Savvy retailers have turned to managed IT services as a way to accomplish their goals and protect the security of their business operations.
Managed IT services are technology services that companies outsource to third parties called managed services providers (MSPs). By outsourcing some or all of their IT needs, businesses can improve the quality of their offerings, enjoy reduced costs, and free up internal IT staff to concentrate on tasks that are specific to the organization.
MSPs are IT services providers that deliver IT solutions to businesses. They assume responsibility for and manage defined sets of technology services to clients as needs arise or as proactive measures. In a managed services model, the managed IT provider will assume responsibility for certain aspects of an organization’s IT needs while in-house IT departments handle the rest.
The MSP will be responsible for the functionality of the contracted service through a service level agreement (SLA). The agreement will include provisions for such things as help desk support, technical support, downtime, and disaster recovery. Businesses might outsource services to MSPs so that the providers assume responsibility for both anticipating the needs for a broad range of functions and processes while also maintaining existing services at a highly functional level. This can help to streamline the organization’s IT management, cut costs, and improve the business’s overall operations.
Managed IT services providers offer multiple benefits for retail organizations. A few of the benefits are detailed below.
Organizations can define terms for IT tasks in their SLAs so that they won’t have to spend time and money recruiting, hiring, and onboarding IT personnel to handle the defined tasks. This allows businesses to only pay for their needed services and coverage without having to maintain a fully staffed in-house IT department.
When you outsource some of your IT services, your team can turn its focus on business-specific tasks aimed at generating increased revenues. An MSP can also make recommendations for ways to optimize your infrastructure’s functionality and performance, leading to improved ROI and productivity increases.
Managed IT services are fully scalable and can grow with your business. As your IT needs increase, you can choose additional services to add to your overall environment.
An IT services provider might perform system maintenance and updates during your company’s off-hours, which can help your business better manage its uptime. The ability to use flexible schedules to work around your business’s schedule can reduce disruptions in your workflow.
Many different types of managed services can benefit operators within the retail sector. Businesses can choose various solutions to meet their needs or outsource most of their IT functions to an MSP.
An IT services provider can support your organization’s point-of-sale system and secure your other technology platforms. These services might allow your business to avoid disruptions and potential intrusions by bad actors.
MSPs can provide IT solutions to improve the experience of customers when they interact with the business online or in brick-and-mortar locations. These services can include help desk solutions to resolve technical issues, operating system and mobile device support, and the management of digital technology within stores to provide a frictionless experience to on-site customers. When your customers’ experience is smooth both on- and offline, you might enjoy an expanding customer base through word-of-mouth referrals and returning customers.
Retailers are particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks as they have increasingly adopted e-commerce, self-checkout solutions, and point-of-sale systems that could potentially expose sensitive consumer financial and identity information. When data breaches occur, retailers can face substantial fines and penalties. Cybercriminals have become increasingly sophisticated, making it critical to have a strong cybersecurity IT solution. MSPs can offer cybersecurity solutions with validated, real-time alerts when security incidents happen and risk mitigation through proactive measures such as awareness training, threat detection, response, and other managed security services.
Retailers can also benefit from outsourcing infrastructure support to managed IT services providers. As critical functions and business processes within the sector become more digitized, ensuring their functionality and efficiency is crucial. Infrastructure support services can include managed networks, support for e-commerce sites, data protection and backups, analytics, reporting, and firewall solutions amongst others.
As retailers strive to remain competitive in the face of pressure from large corporations like Amazon, cloud services have become a necessity. Cloud services can allow retailers to scale their operations, ensure the security of remote access, store data, and more. Managed cloud services might include overseeing servers that host specific data, backing up data, and assisting with disaster recovery. Cloud services for retailers might include migrations, assessments, IT consulting, and more.
In-house IT staff members often have diverse skills and knowledge, but they might not have expert knowledge about specific aspects of your organization’s IT infrastructure. When you outsource specific aspects of your organization’s IT management to managed IT services consultants, they can provide expert knowledge and targeted solutions. Access to tailored IT solutions can reduce costs by maximizing the efficiency of your infrastructure.
As more retailers move some or all of their operations online, managing their IT infrastructure and networking can become more difficult. Managed IT services might offer a solution for companies so that they can remain competitive and grow in a challenging landscape. If you would like to learn more about managed IT services for the retail industry, contact us for more information.