Recent **** Ups with Retail Payment Systems Show Us The Importance of Tech

KFP Blog - March 21, 2024

If you tried to do your weekly shop or pick up a quick lunch last week, chances are you ran into some frustrating technical difficulties. Major retailers across the UK experienced a widespread payment system outage that brought checkouts to a standstill for several days.

The issues began early last Thursday morning when supermarket chains like Sainsbury's and Tesco started reporting problems with their card payment systems. Customers were met with closed checkout lanes and extremely long lines as staff struggled to process transactions. With chip and PIN systems down, they had to revert to old-fashioned chip and pin or only accept cash. With this step backwards, we half expected them to start accepting doubloons and shillings.

The problems quickly rippled out beyond just supermarkets. Fast food and coffee chains like Greggs, McDonald's, and Starbucks also had to shut down mobile payment options and many locations could only accept cash or turn customers away entirely. Not great for their reputations!

The system used by all their businesses experienced a catastrophic nationwide failure, likely due to a software bug or cyberattack, though the provider in question has not confirmed the root cause yet. Very suspicious if you ask us!

Long lines spilled out of grocery stores as managers urged patience and people abandoned full carts rather than wait hours. Hangry office workers scoured for any spots still accepting mobile payments or cash. Shopping malls turned into ghost towns as consumers took their business elsewhere. This type of outage is what kills retail and hospitality companies. Reputation takes a hit, short-term sales takes a hit, and customers try out new options which may lead to them taking their business elsewhere in the future. Not great.

While commerce is now resuming as normal, the prolonged failure highlights just how crucial technology is to the retail economy. The potential for massive disruptions from a single point of failure in the IT infrastructure is concerning and eye-opening. It also demonstrates businesses' heavy reliance on technology.

With this much at stake, retail and hospitality businesses need to have the right IT partners in place, that can get them out of the **** when it matters.

KFP are this partner. Because at moments where customers can’t rely on you, you can rely on us.

If you need a trustworthy partner that can dig you out of a sticky situation – you know who to call. Give us a bell on (+44) 01235 539101