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For many multi-location retailers, the pandemic accelerated their digital transformations, fast-tracking the need for digital-first strategies. According to McKinsey, the retail industry saw the equivalent of 10 years of e-commerce growth in just three months. Online ordering, curbside pickup, and at-home delivery became necessary for businesses to survive.

Now that the lockdowns have ended, retail chains are luring shoppers with a hybrid strategy, combining online convenience with in-store shopping experiences. For retailers to compete in this digital-first arena, they need to ensure personalized customer interactions that are consistent across locations and omnichannel.

To make this happen, retailers need their IT departments to implement communications tools that support employees in various roles across the organization — from the corporate offices and contact centers to the warehouses and retail floors.

Many multi-location retailers shopping for solutions have found that cloud based unified communications technologies offer the best deal in terms of price and performance.

Multi-Location Retailers Face Accelerated Changes

Multi-location retailers have built their brands by bringing quality goods and services into local communities. Their customers’ loyalty stems from a consistent and predictable in-store experience, regardless of location. That all changed with the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Digital disruption. The most significant impact was the change to digital-first tools for sales and service. For many large retailers, online shopping went from being one option to being the only option for serving their customers and earning revenue. Fulfillment was more challenging: a range of options emerged, including home delivery, curbside pickup, and buy-online pickup in-store (BOPIS). While minimizing human interactions for the safety and well-being of customers and employees was necessary, it was also the antithesis of the traditional in-store retail experience. While most stores have reopened, customers are not ready to return to normal if it means giving up these perks.
  • Disconnected communications tools. Like other businesses, workers and agents in multi-location retail offices and call centers were sent home during the lockdowns. Companies struggled to enable their employees to work from home, scrounging for laptops and piecing together a patchwork of often consumer-grade collaboration apps. The resulting inefficiencies became a drain on employees, and IT managers quickly turned to cloud based unified communications solutions for an enterprise-class experience that could work in the office and at home.
  • Rising customer expectations. Meanwhile, customers have grown accustomed to having service their way. In exchange for loyalty, customers expect a personalized experience that includes automatic product recommendations, customized promotions, and interactions with call center agents who know their names and preferences.

Retailers Rebound with Optimized Customer Interactions

The retail industry is moving away from competing based on price alone and is now factoring in the customer experience. According to a 2022 report from TotalRetail and Napco Research, customer service departments are increasingly spending more on technology, second only to the amount spent on IT departments.

  • Omnichannel support. Today’s buyers expect to interact with retailers through their preferred communication methods. An omnichannel platform enables agents to field all communications — call, text, email, fax, voicemail, etc. — on one cloud based platform.
  • Digital-first communications. In addition to online interactions, retailers embraced text communications like those offered by Bubble by Broadvoice. Using text messages, retailers can send marketing promotions to entice purchasing, send shipping and delivery notifications, and facilitate two-way conversations for service and support.
  • Personalized service. To retain customers and reward their loyalty, retailers are looking for ways to customize their promotions, offers, and support for their clients. Broadvoice b-hive enables faster and more personalized interactions by integrating UCaaS with the popular customer relationship management (CRM) software, Salesforce. With Broadvoice b-hive for Salesforce, inbound calls are matched to customer records, and screen pops display these records on agents’ desktops so they can answer with a personalized greeting and buyer history at the ready.

Behind-the-Scenes Benefits of UCaaS for Multi-Location Retailers

Savvy retailers understand that an enhanced customer experience is only one piece of the puzzle — the employee experience significantly impacts the customer experience. Team members across the organization must be able to do their jobs efficiently so they can deliver their company’s promises.

This is another area where cloud communications deliver.

  • Unified communications. Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) combines all communications tools — call, chat, video call, screen share, web conference, and more — in one application. No more app fatigue. Employees can seamlessly use all of these tools on a single interface. Not only will they work more efficiently, but they will also be more responsive to coworkers, suppliers, and buyers, which improves the overall customer experience.
  • One number. A cloud communications platform assigns every employee a business number that serves as their identity for all communications — inbound and outbound. With one number, employees are easy to contact wherever they are, on any device. It also means that their communications are associated with your business number, so they stay in your communications environment where data privacy and security are assured.
  • Mobility. With one number and one app, employees can communicate with anyone, anytime, anywhere, on any device. They can be accessible and productive whether they’re working in the corporate office, warehouse, contact center, on the road, at home, or in-store. Sales associates can also interact with customers who visit the retail location and use their mobile app to answer inbound calls and messages from remote buyers.

Multi-Location Retailers Adapt to a Hybrid World with Cloud Communications

Thanks to cloud based communications, collaboration, and contact centers, multi-location retailers are well-positioned to serve customers in both the digital world and the real world with simplified and unified employee collaboration and personalized customer service.

Contact us to learn more about how Broadvoice can help your multi-location retail organization adapt to a hybrid world.

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