POS network issues can cost retailers dearly. According to some estimates, unplanned downtime can cost a business up to $5000 per minute.
Both internal and external networks are required to keep a company running. These networks support your POS, email, phones, and web-connected devices.
Therefore, network issues don’t just prevent you from processing credit card transactions, they also prevent ecommerce integration, CRM access for loyalty programs, inventory management data collection, and remote POS access.
So what can business owners do to reduce the impact of POS connectivity and network issues?
First, if you are experiencing a network problem with your POS right now, start by diagnosing the source of the problem. Determine if it’s a network issue or a POS issue, and then follow basic troubleshooting steps.
If you aren’t experiencing issues, there are steps you can take to prevent POS downtime or create a failover system to protect yourself. This guide walks you through all of these points, including tips for diagnosing a POS connectivity issue, troubleshooting problems, creating a failover system, and performing regular preventative maintenance on your POS network.
Common POS Network Errors
If your POS is not connecting to Internet, the No. 1 cause is hardware failure; according to one study hardware problems result in about 45% of unplanned downtime. Power outages (35%), software failure (34%), and data corruption (24%) are other common reasons for POS connectivity issues.
However, issues you face with your POS system can take many forms. Some of the most common types of network errors resulting in downtime include:
- Spotty Connectivity – Your POS system’s internet connectivity will be sporadic. This can be caused by network congestion, faulty hardware, or software issues.
- Complete Loss of Connection – If your POS is not connecting to the internet, you will not be able to process any transactions. Common reasons the POS can’t get online include network outages, power outages, hardware failure, or incorrect network settings.
- Slow Network Speed – If your POS can connect to the internet but the network speed is too slow, credit card processing can be delayed or transactions will timeout. This is often caused by a slow internet connection, congestion, or hardware issues.
- Software Issues – Sometimes POS software can cause network issues. This can be caused by compatibility issues, configuration issues, or bugs in the software.
Ultimately, these issues can generally be remedied by building a strong network and conducting regular maintenance.
Pro Tip. When considering POS software solutions, be sure you explore how reliable a system is and if data loss prevention systems are available.
Step 1: Determine the Cause of the POS Connectivity Issue
If you’re currently experiencing a network failure, answer this question first: Is this a network issue or a POS issue?
Knowing this will help you troubleshoot the problem and know where to look to get your system back online. Here are some differences:
If you know the failure is due to an internet outage, then you can take measures to get back online. Some steps you can take:
- Restart your modem and router
- Contact your ISP
- Resetting your router
Ultimately, if it’s an internet issue, your Wi-Fi network will be down and no devices will be able to connect to the internet.
Alternatively, if you have confirmed that the internet connection is sound, but you’re experiencing a POS network failure here’s what to do.
First determine if all of the POS terminals are affected or just one.
- If only one terminal seems affected, you are likely dealing with a hardware issue. Check for a loose cable at the POS switch / router, and also at the terminal itself. You may need to replace faulty hardware, but you’ll be able to continue to operate using other terminals.
- If all terminals are affected and it’s not an internet outage, contact your POS provider. You are probably facing an issue with the POS server or the associated routed.
Another Option: POS Offline Mode
You can try to operate your POS in offline mode, which will keep you online and allow you to continue processing credit card transactions.
This is a feature of our FTx POS, our retail POS software solution. Offline mode is a temporary fix. In offline mode, you won’t be able to perform internet-supported verification processes (e.g. checking if funds are available). You’ll still want to get your POS connected to the internet as quickly as possible.
Troubleshooting Network Connectivity Issues on POS
When a connectivity issue strikes, there are simple steps you can take to respond. Often, the issues are caused by simple-fix errors, e.g. a loose cable or a quick reset.
If you’ve determined the cause to be your network, troubleshoot your network devices (modem, router, etc.) If it’s POS-related, you can troubleshoot POS connections and devices. Here are some troubleshooting tips to follow:
- Check Physical Connections – Ensure all cables are properly connected. This includes network cables, power cables, and any other cables connected to your POS system.
- Check Wi-Fi Connections – If you’re using a wireless connection with your cloud POS, check that the Wi-Fi is turned on and that your POS terminal is within range.
- Restart the POS System / Network Devices – A simple restart oftentimes can resolve connectivity issues. Turn off your POS and network devices (router or modem), wait about 1 minute, and then turn them back on.
- Contact Your POS Provider – If these quick, simple fixes don’t work, contact your POS support team. A support team will protect you from data loss and can help diagnose and fix the problem faster.
- Check Network Settings – Ensure that the network settings allow your POS to connect to the correct network. You’ll also want to check IP, DNS server and other network settings.
- Check Firewall and Security Settings – Security software or a firewall may be preventing the POS from connecting to the network. Check settings for these tools. Note: This can happen after a software update or system restart.
- Update Your Software – Running outmoded versions of software can disrupt your connection and result in downtime. Make sure you’re running the latest version of your POS software, and that the firmware settings on network devices are up to date.
Pro Tip. These are just general steps, and they’re dependent on how your network and POS are set up. Contact Customer Support from your POS provider early in the process.
Preventative Steps for Reducing POS Network Issues
Neglecting regular system maintenance puts you at greater risk for downtime and network errors. If you’ve waited to update your smartphone operating system, and apps started crashing, you’ve experienced this effect firsthand.
Ultimately, there are several quick system maintenance tasks you can do to protect your POS system:
- Physical checks – Check your POS system devices and network equipment for physical damage or wear-and-tear. Replace any damaged components (e.g. mouse-chewed cables are a common culprit).
- Invest in a reliable ISP – Regularly conduct speed tests on your network. Upgrading your service or switching ISPs will reduce slow-speed or network-related risks.
- Regular software updates – Run the latest version of your retail POS software, and regularly update network device firmware. Updates protect from bugs and include performance improvements.
- Upgrade network equipment – High-quality equipment (routers, switches and cables) cost more because they’re more reliable. Upgrade your system if possible.
- Perform monitoring / backups – Monitoring your system is important for spotting issues before they arise (e.g. speeds starting to slow or sporadic connectivity). You should also backup your POS data regularly.
- Employee training – You and your employees should understand what to do when a POS system fails. Every preventative plan should include training to ensure your employees know what to do.
In addition to these measures, you should also consider developing a POS failover system. This is a complete, wired secondary system that your POS switches to when your primary system fails.
Setting Up a Failover POS Network
The best failsafe is having an alternative system in place already as a backup. In terms of POS systems, a failover is a backup POS that kicks into place as soon as the primary network fails.
This is one of the best solutions that will reduce your need for data recovery following an outage.
Often, these systems might be completely mobile, and automatically connect to a 5G or LTE network. Therefore, in the case of an outage, these systems support a backup operational mode that supports all system functions such as processors, servers, networks, and databases. You might have heard of this referred to as “redundancy.”
Failover Network for Your POS: Key Features
When looking at failover systems that will prevent POS data loss, you should find a solution that retrofits your existing infrastructure for cellular network access. Here are four key features to look for:
- Simplified Integration – Choose a network failover solution that calls that can be easily located and mounted where cellular reception is the strongest.
- Certified Connectivity Options – Your failover system should come with cellular extenders that support multiple carriers and also multiple WAN connectivity options such as Ethernet or cellular. By including load balancing and failover capabilities, your backup system should offer 4G LTE.
- Upgradeable with 4G LTE Plug-In Modems & Dual Sim Support – No matter the size of your business or the amount of transactions at your store, you need network failover that can handle supporting the breadth of your data, which means you need the best, fastest technology, i.e. 4G.
- Centralized Device Management – Choose a failover that offers a centralized management platform. You need easy setup, configuration, and support so look for a solution provider that can assist you before, during, and after deployment.
Power outages and network connectivity issues will happen. A failover in place at your retail store so that you can access your network, and process credit and debit cards during the outage. Consider this statistic: 96% of businesses that have a disaster recovery solution in place fully recover their operations.
How FTx POS Helps Reduce Downtime
The team here at FTx POS understands just how frustrating and costly downtime is for your business. That’s why we offer a variety of services to help you stay connected and keep your business online.
For one, we offer support for implementing a failover network for your POS system. For example, we typically recommend and install a Verizon failover modem. This attaches to your store’s existing modem, and in the event of an outage, the system connects to Verizon’s 4G network to ensure your POS stays online.
We also offer on-demand support. If you’re experiencing a network issue or your POS cannot connect to the Internet, contact our Customer Support Team right now or search our documentation for solutions. We’re committed to keeping your business online!