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Digital transformation remains on the cutting edge of operational advancements drastically changing the methods when online retailers held a crucial advantage over their physical competitors. Digital shoppers are typically conducting research searching for the best option in a few clicks or deciding where to visit and buy locally. Physical brick and mortar store operations should seek in-store solutions that converge within unified commerce and UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) enabled technology or risk losing sales to the competition. If this sounds familiar, the solution for your staff may be closer than you think!
Companies are increasingly migrating to cloud platforms as enterprise IT investments transition to mobile-first technologies as proven to empower sales associates to openly perform their job duties and provide a level of customer service that shoppers increasingly expect. Staff can directly access POS information easily in-store and on-premises using enterprise-grade solutions built to communicate, collaborate, and accelerate engagement across teams and locations. When mobile technology flexibly adopts the preferred UC (Unified Communications) platform, assessing dynamic business needs to upgrade IT telephony infrastructure can help to consolidate devices and reduce costs. Incorporating more versatile Enterprise smartphones extends utilization that largely influences an employees’ ability to deliver customer satisfaction and return customers.Communication and collaboration are essential to unify teams and deliver reliable voice and data-centric workflows directly to employees. By providing UC-enabled mobile devices, employees can provide customers with immediate assistance, improving the customer experience by offering real-time status on inventory counts, sales updates, price checks, and access to store management via unified communications with all in-store associates, hybrid staff, or other locations within the enterprise network. Employees can increase workplace efficiencies, have private conversations or conferencing, share expertise with secure messaging, look up product information, deliver support, and guide new team onboarding, all while remaining heads-up and hands-free, to deliver better customer service and increase productivity.Enterprise decision-makers are challenged by siloed data managed in disparate systems with teams across their organization. Retailers especially have pivoted during the recent pandemic and in reaction, discovered the key to understanding the current ever-changing retail market by providing a framework to realization through the prior disruption caused by the growth of e-commerce, and now with hybrid workforces.

According to Gartner:

By 2023, up to 40% of Tier 1 retailers will leverage intelligent automation among their store workforce to improve business outcomes through better customer experience and associate engagement.

By 2024, at least 99% of new workforce management application sales will leverage cloud-based deployment models.

By 2025, 75% of large enterprises with hourly-paid workers and variable demand for labor will use automation to drive workforce scheduling decisions.

By 2025, at least two of the top 10 global retailers will create a sharing economy service for store-level associates to address workforce challenges.

By 2025, 80% of large enterprises with hourly-paid workers will have invested in workforce management to turbocharge employee experience and/or digital workplace initiatives.

Five ways mobile devices in the hands of your employees can accelerate your digital transformation journey:

1. Omnichannel Experience Value

Many retailers pride themselves on the delivery of superior in-store customer service as this face-to-face interaction is a positive experience for customers. Mobile devices ensure any associate can resolve issues immediately, request support for floor associates interacting with customers to find an item, or access product information more swiftly. 

Enterprise smartphones are essential for communication between in-store or hybrid workers using internet-based Unified Communication solutions such as Microsoft Teams, RingCentral, and Zoom, among others. Unified Communication (UC) and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solutions not only provide high-quality voice communication but also include feature-rich offerings such as video conferencing, group conferencing, and access to a wide selection of collaboration tools. In addition to connecting employees, UCaaS also simplifies the work of IT by reducing the number of connection points, infrastructure hardware, and interface requirements that previously existed.

2. Encourage Add-On Sales

Mobile devices allow sales associates to suggest complementary items and take service a step further by providing up-to-date insights on inventory, pricing (even price matching), delivery times, etc. For example, a sales associate at a home improvement store can advise customers on items that others have also purchased for similar projects, thereby eliminating a second visit to the store. And more importantly, the associate can offer advice on an online purchase, whereby the customer may have to wait for second-order delivery to complete the project. In short, empowering in-store employees with mobile devices can:

  • • Facilitate inventory checks and price searches (alternate size/color/item) 
  • • Access sales history allowing sales associates to make suggestions tailored to customer preferences
  • • Capture impulse purchases, even after the customer leaves the store. For instance, an associate could send an email of items the customer looked at or tried on while in the store with a “buy now” option
  • • Place an order for an out-of-stock item, right in the aisle, and have the item shipped to the customer’s home.

3. Enhanced Employee Experience

Mobile devices designed with feature sets that are familiar on personal mobile devices, coupled with user-friendly applications can quickly help onboard new employees with the appropriate training for each team member. At Spectralink, we work with AIMs Partners to deliver retail-specific apps, such as enterprise mobility management, secure messaging, and barcode scanning. Staff productivity scales quickly when provided with access to promotional pricing, product information, and customer information anywhere on the selling floor. All this information can be accessed from a smartphone, improving communications and staff availability. Plus, customers will see better service and responsiveness for a more consistent experience.

4. Automation of workflows

In an industry that generally operates on low margins, loss from theft, spoilage or other means has largely impacted the profitability of a retailer. Retailers are turning to inventory management systems and surveillance as proactive measures to control shrinkage. Further, technology integrations have moved to mobile applications so that store managers, employees, and security staff can all have their eyes and ears on the business. In addition, management can receive alerts or safeguard assets in operation that remotely monitor performance, if when the freezer is left open to potentially cause spoilage, or if an individual needs assistance or reminders alerting imminent theft and critical response.

5. Business Intelligence and Data Analytics

A centralized warehouse is critical to the distribution success of many retailers including grocery, big box, automotive parts, and equipment supply stores. Mobile communications, workflow applications, and automated alerts have a direct and positive impact on inventory distribution workflows, improving both the customer experience and the bottom line.

Data management and task automation can also bridge the gap for cloud-based optimization of processes and shipping/receiving accuracies. RFID tags will be key in helping retailers manage inventory on the sales floor, reduce shrinkage and help on the supply chain side as well. RFID enables frequent inventory counting, which ensures inventory accuracy. Truly mobile workers like warehouse managers appreciate the reliability and durability of using specifically designed smartphones that provide the ability to check stock levels in the warehouse or at other locations through the barcode scanner will facilitate inventory management. Employees have access to calls without interruption. This is key to efficient fulfillment and return processes, which again increases customer loyalty.

Source: Gartner Market Guide for Retail Workforce Management, July 2021

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