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Unplanned Downtime: Every C-Store’s Worst Nightmare in a Post-Covid World

The advent of the global pandemic last year led to the proliferation of innovative devices and apps across the entire retail sector – born out of necessity. Fast forward to 2021 and we see the accelerated demand for touchless checkout with in-store apps, self-serve, pay-at-pump, curbside pick-up and more.  However, beneath this veneer of digital transformation of the checkout experience is an increasingly burdened IT infrastructure that can be vulnerable to unplanned downtime.

This especially rings true for those with legacy store IT infrastructure that have relied on building layer upon layer of new technology on old foundations. The result is that any unplanned downtime becomes more problematical to solve. While those minutes, hours or days of downtime feel like the worst part, the ramifications extend far beyond those moments: namely lost customers, revenue and diminished brand loyalty.

So, what is the true cost of downtime for c-stores, and how can businesses guard against future occurrences? We recently carried out a survey to shed some light on the matter, interviewing a variety of convenience fuel retail decision-makers to gauge the true cost of downtime.

Failures of store systems result in average revenue losses of up to $855 per hour

According to the survey, carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Zynstra, failures of store systems such as POS, Store Controller, Fuel Controller, Payment Controller or Self-checkout can result in an average revenue loss of up to $855 per hour, demonstrating the true cost of downtime across the industry. In addition, the survey revealed that re-launching these store systems can take up to 5.43 hours, resulting in $4,643 lost revenue per day.

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Our recent webinar on the True Cost of Downtime was a great opportunity to get the opinions of leaders in the convenience fuel retail sector such as Steve Bown, Global Retail IT Manager, ExxonMobil and Gabe Olives, CIO, Impact21:

Solving for Downtime with a Software-Defined Store Strategy

When asked where they believe IT can make the biggest difference in reducing downtime across their store ecosystem, 33% of respondents believe more automation of systems will be the key to resolving these issues, with the number of respondents rising to 66% for stores with 501+ locations.

50% of respondents with 250+ stores identified that virtualizing their POS system so they can remove the most common failure part—the physical disc —and run the latest software on their existing hardware with high availability, would make the biggest difference in reducing the impact of downtime in their stores.

This data demonstrates that addressing unplanned store technology downtime can benefit retailers bottom line. The pandemic has accelerated change in the store. C-store retailers require reliable in-store IT to meet new customer demands and facilitate a convenient and safe shopping experience. Transitioning to a software-defined store strategy by virtualizing retail store systems can play a big role in resolving these IT pain points. This strategy reduces the cost associated with managing, monitoring and maintaining store systems, providing c-stores with much greater resilience and control.

Nick East
co-founder and CEO, Zynstra, an NCR Company
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