For solution providers catering to the retail vertical, it’s an exciting time. Retailers face competition that’s able to consistently deliver lower costs, more convenience and engaging experiences. The expectations of customers walking into physical stores have respectively risen, requiring deeper levels of engagement and satisfying shopping experiences. Luckily, all this comes at a time of powerful convergence. Solution providers now have access to technologies that can be integrated to deliver solutions that effectively address the customer experience and engagement needs of retailers.
While technologies such as iBeacons, video analytics and digital signage are obvious customer engagement technologies because they’re more customer-facing, solution providers shouldn’t overlook other technologies that can have an impact on shopping experiences. Take, for instance, unified communications and collaboration solutions.
By implementing the latest UCC technologies, solution providers can improve—and even automate—communications within the retailer’s operations. The net effect is improved operations, which in turn plays a significant role in customer experience and engagement.
UCC delivers better back office communications
One use of UCC automation can be within a retailer’s supply chain or warehouse. By integrating with the retailer’s inventory management system, triggers can be set based on important events such as low stock levels. Consider if a product requires a long process and many people to get reordered. If stock reaches a defined threshold, the UCC system can send out a meeting invite to a group of key people. How the system communicates and to whom is entirely programmable. The system could start by sending out text messages, but the individuals can easily escalate to voice if they need to talk, or even video if they need to speak face to face. The result is an automated process improvement that can ensure the right people are communicating so items don’t fall out of stock—thus improving customer experience.
Use UCC to engage with customers and employees
The checkout area is typically where you’ll find the telephone and computer or point-of-sale system, which are indispensable tools for retailers. However, it’s much easier for store associates to engage with customers if they aren’t tied to one area. UCC solutions can get that store associate out from behind the counter and amidst shoppers to raise engagement levels. In some cases, retailers are equipping store associates with mobile devices that can be used for inventory lookup. These devices can also become part of a UCC solution—useful for text messaging, voice communications and even video.
Associates can use these devices to communicate with other departments about item availability and pricing while staying with the customer. Managers can stay engaged with all associates, no matter where they are. As a side benefit, these devices can be useful for managers seeking to better communicate with employees about scheduling and other important topics.
To lower the cost of such solutions, it’s not necessary for the retailer to purchase any mobile devices. Many UCC solutions can be leveraged with a simple app installed on the smartphones most store associates already carry with them into the workplace.
In some cases, implementing a UCC solution in retail is simple, and solution providers with UCC experience should have no problems. In other cases, where integration is required with inventory management systems and/or there’s a process automation element involved, these solutions can become more challenging to create and install. If this is where you find yourself, contact Ingram Micro for assistance in bringing together powerful UCC and customer engagement solutions.