Flexible communication tools for retailers are inevitable: What does the future hold?

Flexible communication tools for retailers are inevitable: What does the future hold?

24. March 2021 NFON AG

The importance of flexibility and scalability as well as 3 flexible communication solutions that boost your business

The retail industry has changed dramatically in the past decade. With the boom in e-commerce and advances in technology, the buying habits of consumers have altered. Nowadays, customers expect a first-class experience and round-the-clock support, irrespective of if they chose to transact online or offline. The implication for the retail sector is that in order for it to respond effectively to these changes, they cannot afford to approach their customer communication as usual. To futureproof their communication, the modern retailer needs to embrace flexibility and scalability.

What does flexibility and scalability in retail mean?

The words “scalability” and “flexibility” are used frequently (and in many instances together) when discussing the latest trends regarding retail store communications systems. However, what does flexibility and scalability in retail actually mean?

Investopedia describes scalability as the ability of an organization or a system to cope and perform well when it is subjected to an increased workload or other market demands. Thus, organizations in the retail sector that are scalable will be able to maintain or possibly even improve their performance levels when they face more operational demands.

Though, to achieve scalability, retail businesses need to promote flexibility. As changes in technology that enables businesses to scale occur rapidly, retail businesses must be flexible enough to be able to adapt to these changes and implement new systems, such as flexible communication tools, to help improve the way business is done.

Why simple, fast and flexible communication solutions will aid your retail business

Communication between a retailer and its target audience should at all times be seamless, but effective communication during peak periods, in particular, is crucial. For retailers, peak periods, such as Black Friday, Cyber Week and Christmas, can play a deciding factor in the profitability of an entire financial year. If their communication system is unable to adapt to the increase in calls during the peak season, it could be catastrophic from a financial point of view.

Though, for retailers to be able to offer a seamless customer experience to its target audience, the communication among different employees is equally important. If the global COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that employees can still work productively offsite, on condition that they have access to the right workplace tools. According to data gathered by the BCG COVID-19 Employee Sentiment Survey completed in 2020, employees who are satisfied with the tools at their disposable were about twice as likely to have kept their productivity at the same level, if not improving it.

In fact, it is predicted that working remotely will only continue in the post-pandemic world. The survey completed by BCG that looked at the workplace of the future employer revealed that businesses anticipate that approximately 40% of their staff will continue to work remotely in the future. While this presents opportunities to the retail sector, it also comes with a set of challenges.

One of these challenges is to create a suitable environment that allows employees to switch seamlessly between offsite and onsite. The only way to do this is to invest in unified communications solutions that offer location flexibility. 

Why traditional telephone system providers fail to meet the current expectations

The truth is that traditional telephone system providers cannot offer the flexibility that retailers need to stay competitive in the long run. These systems need to be updated either manually or by purchasing a new or an upgraded system and the hardware needed to connect your landlines can amount to a costly exercise.

Also, in today’s day and age, customers expect round-the-clock availability. Traditional telephone systems can struggle to deliver this essential requirement. For example, in the event of a power outage, all your physical locations will lose the ability to communicate with your customers if you still rely on this type of outdated system.

Though, arguably the most significant disadvantage is that it does not offer location flexibility. To futureproof your retail business, the flexibility to manage your communication from anywhere will become a non-negotiable.

Flexibility, Scalability, Flexible Communication Tools, Cloudya

3 flexible communication solutions ideal for growing your retail business

Practically every industry can benefit from using cloud services. Not only is it a robust platform for boosting productivity, but it can also be used by retailers to improve their communication and alleviate customer frustration. Increasingly more retail outlets are making the smart switch from PBX systems to cloud-hosted communications platforms. These solutions can offer the flexibility that the modern workplace requires as well as work out to be more cost-effective in the long run.

  1. Cloud telephone systems
    Leading cloud telephone systems like Cloudya by NFON effectively put an end to the limited capabilities of traditional communication solution. These solutions require minimum upfront investment and replace the need for costly, intricate onsite hardware as the system is completely maintenance-free.

    For example, by using NFON, Unser Lagerhaus, a trading and service company in Austria, was able to customize their different branches. Mag. Harald Hummer, the CEO of the company praised NFON’s wide range of products and commented, “NFON was able to map [our complex needs] and even our analog fax machines into the telephone system.”

    As Cloudya offers great flexibility and scalability, your workforce can work from anywhere – the office, remotely or while on the go. This helps to boost productivity across your organization because communication and collaboration between internal teams, external suppliers and customers can continue uninterruptedly. Plus, retailers that want to expand and grow their business can easily accommodate more locations. All in all, it is easy to set up without any hidden costs or hardware maintenance.
     
  2. Online communication platforms
    A tool like Microsoft Teams that is used widely by 500,000 organizations across 181 markets can help your employees stay organized and share important files securely in real time. Though, to get the most from such a tool, retailers can also turn to NFON that offers PSTN connectivity allowing you to make phone calls and use Microsoft Teams as your single solution.

    Having one single, reliable and highly secure enterprise voice solution within the familiar Microsoft environment, delivered through Cloudya's PBX features enables employees to enjoy improved collaboration and productivity from any location. It is especially useful if you use Office 365 as it offers a deep integration with programs like Excel and Word. If you opt to use Microsoft Teams, investing in flexible cooperation tools like Nvoice for Microsoft Teams can take team collaboration and flexibility to the next level. As it is easy to set up and supports flexible remote working from anywhere, employees will be able to continue working uninterruptedly whether they are at home or at the office.
     
  3. Contact center solutions
    Customer experience is critical to differentiate a brand in the challenging retail market. As consumer preference for an omnichannel experience continues to grow, retailers will need to provide superior customer service via phone, chat, video and social media, in addition to the traditional in-store experience.

    When it comes to retail, customer experience is king. Now, it’s easier than ever for customers to do research and order what they want from any number of online retailers. So, it’s important to recognize what you can do in the retail space to stand out. At the end of the day, that comes down to customer experience and a retail call center can play an essential role.

    A tool like Ncontactcenter allows the monitoring and management of customer support efficiently through multiple channels, agents, and locations. It provides state-of-the-art customer experience through a central communication point, combining all channels in one interface and one single user. With this tool, you can empower your team to develop a successful customer relationship on one single platform, increase efficiency and improve customer satisfaction by placing the customer in the centre.

Embrace change to grow

If you feel that your business currently does not have the right tools that are flexible enough to allow for scalability, rest assured that the vast majority (87%) of employers indicated that they will need to prioritize digital and tech infrastructure in order to enable remote working, according to the Workplace of the Future survey conducted by BCG.

As communication can be the difference between a customer completing a purchase or abandoning a cart, it is crucial that retailers invest in intuitive cloud telephony that offers them more freedom. By investing in easy-to-use unified communications solutions, retailers will be able to leverage peak periods and stay abreast with the latest workplace trends.

All things considered, flexible communication tools offer a win-win. Your customers will benefit from a seamless user experience, while your employees will be grateful to work for an employer that actively tries to create a positive workplace.

Do you want to know more about digital communication in the retail industry? Have a look at our new white paper or do not hesitate to contact us