The Slack outage and your Point of Sale

Kevin Colaco
Jun 20, 2016 · 2 min read

Last week for the 9th time in the last 12 months Slack experienced an outage that disrupted their 3 million plus daily users for 90 minutes when traffic overwhelmed their web servers and caused API failures.

At retailcloud, we use Slack not just for chat but to monitor the trigger automated tasks. However the outage was no more than an inconvenience, it did not cause any loss of business or cripple our operation. It did however make us appreciate the architectural changes we have undergone in the last 18 months with our cloud based POS solutions to ensure that if such a load imbalance occurred on the retailcloud API servers for the most part our customers would continue to operate without notice.

Local First

retailcloud Tablet and Windows solutions both use a local first operation, and while solutions like these take longer to build and develop, they ensure that when there is an API outage (and to be sure they will happen, considering that besides Slack; Salesforce, Netflix , Twitter and AWS have all gone through high profile outages recently) it’s worth thinking about how your POS solution has been built and what impact it will have on your operation — it can be a simple test of disconnecting from your server and running transactions.

This is not to suggest that cloud based services are unreliable, but it is an indication that you should consider what happens if mission critical services like POS fail and what impact it has to your operation. In those rare instances that services become unavailable what’s your Plan B?

Ten to Test

So here is a list of 10 tests that I recommend you run on your POS after disabling your internet connection.

  • Cash, Credit, Check, Gift and Split Transaction Sales
  • Scan an item that exists in your system and one that does not
  • Scan items with discounts, coupons or price edits
  • Add a customer to a sales and do a transaction
  • Can you add a new item or a customer
  • Can you do a verified return
  • Can you look up a customer’s history
  • Search for items when a barcode is not available
  • Can you open a tab and later close it
  • Does all of the data sync up when connectivity returns

What happens when you do these tests? If they fail, what’s your work around?

How did your POS do, at retailcloud we believe that properly handling these transactions when your internet service goes down or your provider’s API’s get overloaded is a key differentiator from solutions designed purely on technology as opposed to those designed for retail.

living at the confluence of retail, mobile, crm and payments. In my free time i am in constant search for that perfect #food #wine #travel destination

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