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December 16, 2013

Embedded M2M Solutions - Retailer Basics: Providing Primary and Failover Wireless Point of Sale in Retail

As more people, places and things connect to the Internet every day, the more important network security and reliability become. The growth of Internet usage also means regulations and compliance necessary for organizations, especially as e-commerce continues to increase – mobile commerce sales reached $4.7 billion in the second quarter of 2013, up 24 percent year-over-year. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI (News - Alert) DSS) is one of these regulations, designed to ensure that all companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.

Mako Networks is a network management company that specializes in small site security, health record access and PCI DSS compliance solutions – it is the first and only network management company in the market with full PCI-compliance certification. The whole company, including software, hardware, data collection methods and staff, undergo audits and certification to ensure they are up to speed on security.

Retail is one of the biggest areas to impact from solutions like the ones from Mako Networks. To deliver on this opportunity, Mako and Sprint (News - Alert) recently partnered to secure payment regulations, adding the Mako System to Sprint’s portfolio of retail solutions, which also include omni-channel experience, digital signage, ATM vending and wireless point-of-sale terminal solutions.

I recently spoke with Kevin Ptak, global communications manager at Mako Networks, to discuss the Mako System, PCI compliance in retail and how M2M is impacting this growing industry.

The Mako System is comprised of hardware and a Web portal, giving stores an easy way to totally manage their Internet connection – not just a way to plug in, but manage how it’s used and use it as a business tool, Ptak explained.

The piece of hardware, the network appliance, is the primary connection to the Internet and also provides backup connection, so retailers are never in a position where they don’t have access. It controls the connection in two zones: One where payment information exists, and one for everything else that needs to use the Internet, such as inventory management and guest Wi-Fi.

The software is managed through the cloud and makes it easy for network administrators to look after a large number of sites; they can log on to secure websites, check the status of connections in certain locations, how much the Internet is being used, what sites are being visited and how often, and so on.

Ptak explained retail is one of the biggest growth areas for PCI-compliant solutions because it has been a target area for cybercrime. Trustwave, an information security company, recently found that 45 percent of all its data breach investigations were in retail locations. Cybercriminals are going after data that can provide immediate financial benefits, usually card data and numbers they can verify.

Mako Networks partnered with Sprint to provide wireless, fixed line and backup 3G connections because of the quality of its network and its visionary mindset. “Being a nationwide provider makes it a lot easier for us to expand and meet demands,” Ptak said.

Ptak predicts we’ll see two areas in particular evolve thanks to M2M solutions and network management systems. The first is the increased use of mobile devices, which isn’t a big surprise, but an inevitable trend. Ninety percent of customers think stores should be offering free Wi-Fi, so we will see a lot more retailers operating with tablet-based POS systems and providing free Wi-Fi. He also predicts an increased use of retail analytics – using data gathered from smartphones and people using Wi-Fi in stores can help target marketing efforts and offer a more personalized experience.

Edited by Ryan Sartor

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