With the increasing dominance of retail chains, small and medium-sized retail businesses are struggling to stay competitive.
To protect investments and remain in business, they have to consider all costs and thoroughly assess possible risks and related losses. For example, while it is common to forecast losses due to food spoilage, assessing problems caused by electricity failure is more complicated.
We will consider the main retail risks related to electricity supply problems and share tips from Eaton on avoiding these issues. By following these, you will protect your investment to ensure business continuity and growth.
Risk #1: Burnt Equipment
Electricity problems include not just blackouts but also the supply exceeding its standard voltage. A mistake made at a sub-station could result in 380V being supplied to a mains socket instead of the standard 220V. Expensive equipment that is sensitive to problems with power supply is then at risk. Cash registers, computers, network hardware, printers, refrigeration units – you name it. Depending on the number of devices, the damage could be very significant indeed.
Risk #2: Loss of Customers
A customer comes to the cash desk with a trolley full of products, but the cashier can’t take payment because the cash register isn’t operating. The customer will leave without buying anything and will probably never come back. People tend to recall negative experiences more often than positive ones. That is why there are so many angry reviews on the internet resulting in damage to brand reputation.
Risk #3: Lost or Extra Receipts
If a blackout occurs during payment, the transaction may be interrupted. Depending on exactly when the incident occurs, power failure at a cash register may result in a failure to issue a receipt or the details not being sent to the tax office in time. Such situations should be prevented by software, but if something goes wrong, the tax office may raise questions. And if errors are uncovered, businesses may suffer penalties.
Risk #4: Lost Data
Retail is now largely controlled by computers. This is true even for small corner shops where price tags on goods have bar codes. The cashier scans the items, and the screen shows values from the database. All sales are also registered in the accounting system to allow performance of any sales point to be evaluated in real time. Electricity failure may damage hard drive data, and sales information together with other data may become inaccessible. Recovery takes time, and if unlucky, the data may be irretrievably lost. The business owner will lose management accounting and a full inventory will be required.
How to protect yourself
Protection against power supply failures is easily affordable even for small business, especially when compared with the cost of potential losses. The major component in such protection is an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS). A UPS combines battery and control electronics in one unit. It is connected to the mains supply and powers cash registers, computers and other devices.
If there is an electricity failure at the shop premises, the UPS electronics will detect it and instantly and seamlessly switch the connected devices to battery power. UPS’s can vary in terms of capacity, transformers, control options and many other features.
They securely protect equipment from electricity failures by controlling the power supply. Close-cycle UPS’s can send a signal to a computer where operations should be completed, and double-conversion devices generate high-quality A/C voltage, maintain its frequency and switch to battery-powered operation as quickly as possible.
What to choose
When choosing a UPS, the most important criteria are functionality and reliability. You need to look at its efficiency, maximum operating time and the manufacturer’s reputation.
For example, at Eaton we have developed a UPS line with models best suited for small and medium-sized businesses. Our latest model, UPS 9SX, ensures uninterrupted power with double conversion and a capacity from 700 to 6000 VA. With tower and rack-mountable configurations available, you can choose the version most suitable for your premises. The monitoring system also allows remote control of power consumption, so a business owner can reduce the number of employees that need to be constantly on site and use remote technical specialists instead.
At first sight, an Uninterrupted Power Supply does not seem essential for a start-up business. But this should not be overlooked. A well-designed electrical infrastructure provides the basis for the smooth operation and growth of any business, whether a small neighbourhood coffee shop, a barbershop or a supermarket.
Eaton is a power management company with 2018 sales of $21.6 billion. We provide energy-efficient solutions that help our customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more efficiently, safely and sustainably. Eaton is dedicated to improving the quality of life and the environment through the use of power management technologies and services. Eaton has approximately 100,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 175 countries.
For more information, visit Eaton.com
About Eaton in Africa
Eaton has been in Africa since 1927 with offices in South Africa, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Morocco and Nigeria, with 200k ft².of manufacturing space located in South Africa and Morocco. A certified BBBEE Level 1 contributor in South Africa, Eaton offers a broad portfolio supplemented by ‘made for Africa’ products and solutions. Eaton has over 700 employees and numerous distributors across the region, allowing us the opportunity to help our customers grow and provide sustainable economic benefits to the communities in which we operate.
For more information visit www.eaton.co.za