Is physical retail obsolete now as everyone shops online? How should physical retail stay up-to-date to meet the new demands? These questions are just some you’ll get answers to in this post.
Is physical retail still relevant?
Yes! The death of brick-and-mortar retail is greatly exaggerated. The retail industry has actually adapted quite well. Many physical retailers also choose to offer e-commerce today or at least have an online presence. And companies like Amazon, which have been known to only be present online, have now opened physical stores. In the United States, physical stores beat online shopping in 2021. In Sweden, physical retail grew by 6% in 2021.
According to a study by McKinsey, three out of four US consumers are shopping both in stores and online. This new shopping behaviour, for instance, buying online and picking up in-store or curbside restaurant pickups, is becoming the norm.
For the best results going forward, the physical and digital aspects of a business should be combined with a focus on effective communication. The best way to go about it is by unifying different channels and strategies to create one that is unified and customer-centric. Make sure your management processes for orders, warehouse and transportation are flexible so you can adapt to customers’ changing demands.
How to best benefit from your telephony in physical retail
So, we’ve established that physical retail is still important and that you don’t need to convert into a completely digital retail company. However, reviewing how you communicate with your audience is important regardless if you do business with customers face-to-face or online. That is why your telephony solution needs to be up-to-date and ready to handle customers' ever-changing demands.
Be available in all channels
Even if you believe that most of your customers usually contact you online, you don’t want to exclude those preferring to call your store for support or more information. Meaning: don’t exclude regular telephony from your communication solution but make sure it has the features necessary to provide great customer support.
In short: Be there for your customers in all relevant channels, like phone, email, chat, and social media.
Smart routing/call distribution
A great telephony system means having a great PBX with features like programmability. The basis of a programmable PBX is efficient call distribution/smart routing. When someone is calling you, reaching out on your live chat, or sending you an email, they should be redirected to the right place immediately, right? For instance, if you are operating in multiple locations, customers should be directed to the correct store and/or department they’re looking for. If the line is busy, you may want the customer to be routed to another line or department.
With a function like call distribution/smart routing, this is an easy task. You provide a better customer experience, and at the same time, your agents can be more productive and efficient.
Don’t forget about IVR and call recording
Another smart PBX function is IVR (Interactive Voice Response). Use IVR to record messages to present your opening hours or provide answers to common questions. This can free up your team so they can focus on more important tasks.
Telavox’s PBX phone system allows you to easily build and edit welcome messages. This can be especially helpful for adjusting seasonal hours without needing to go through an account manager or other complex processes.
3 reasons for using UCaaS for physical retail
You’re probably using a lot of communication channels today, and to get the most out of these, the best way is to gather them in one single system. This is where UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) comes in.
1. Better alignment between physical and online presence
If you are present both in one or several physical stores and online, you should look into aligning these in the best way possible. Strive to create a cohesive customer journey where customers get a unified experience across online and offline channels.
UCaaS creates seamless communication between the various departments of your store. Let’s say a customer visits your physical store and asks for a product they have found online. Your salesperson can then check the product catalogue and find a product ID that will help them find the product easily and check the inventory for stock availability as well as delivery updates.
With an effective UCaaS system the different departments can easily communicate with each other. The salesperson can communicate with stock managers, warehouse associates and distributors within a single platform.
2. One platform for all communication
With a UCaaS solution, you use the same platform for both external and internal communication. A customer that reached out to you on the phone can later get back to you via email regarding the same question, and it won’t matter which channel they first reached out on. UCaaS creates a seamless communication flow between all your channels and integrated solutions.
Your employees can use an internal chat to communicate with each other or quickly arrange a telephone conference. A live chat on your website allows customers to easily reach out when they have questions.
3. Enhanced customer service
Just like previously mentioned, you will see great results in both internal efficiency and customer satisfaction with a strong communication solution. As your employees get insights on customers and can analyse their buying journey and needs in a UCaaS platform – they can provide a personal approach and better service.
Summary: Physical retail telephony solutions
Customers have higher demands today and they expect quick, effortless communication with retail companies, both physical and online. Many customers expect free delivery and returns, the option to pick up in-store, and to get deals during peak seasons like Black Friday and Christmas. Besides providing more options to satisfy your customers, make sure your communication solution is on top.
Don’t forget – not all customers want to chat, many simply want to call you for support. So make sure to record messages for your opening hours so you always provide them with current information.
Telavox gathers all your communication in a single platform, and offers tailored solutions for your call center, easy integrations and call handling. Get in touch with us if you have any questions.