The retail landscape is evolving at an incredible rate. Companies are spending more time engaging with consumers outside of the store through a multitude of communication tools. Self-service options and automation are becoming more common, while hyper-personalization and AI-driven recommendations aim to improve the customer experience.
To stay ahead of the competition, retail businesses need a technology stack capable of aligning distributed mobile employees and powering innovation. Cloud-based connected tools like Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) have the potential to increase productivity, collaboration, and even customer satisfaction.
According to a report from Intelligence of Mordorthe value of UCaaS in the retail industry alone was around $47,33,85 million in 2020. However, the presence of unified communications in this sector is expected to grow rapidly, at a CAGR of 24.7% at a projected value of $17,800.17 million by 2026.
This is your guide to how unified communications is influencing retail.
The growing need for UC in retail
Retail businesses focus heavily on attracting, engaging, and delighting customers from a variety of different backgrounds. The success of any store depends on its ability to build strong relationships with its target audience, often through the use of excellent communication.
UC and UCaaS solutions give retail businesses more power to align their teams around an amazing experience. At the same time, the right technology can pave the way for essential cost savings and productivity improvements, allowing organizations to compete more effectively in a growing market. Some of the most significant benefits of unified communications in retail include the following:
- Improved collaboration: The standard retail environment is filled with a multitude of different employees who work in various locations. To deliver truly amazing experiences and ensure overall business efficiency, business leaders need to ensure that teams at the front of the store can connect with specialists at the back end, and vice versa. UC tools offer a variety of ways for teams to collaborate through video, messaging, and voice.
- Reduced costs: Keeping costs low and profit margins high is essential for any retailer. As the market becomes more competitive, companies are increasingly investing in tools that lower their exit costs. UC tools can significantly reduce operating costs. These tools not only align all the technology a business needs on one platform (with one bill), but also reduce maintenance fees, long distance charges, and tolls.
- rapid expansion: UC tools delivered in the cloud are inherently flexible, which is important for retail companies with plans to expand geographically or through partnerships with other companies. With the right UC system, new users can be added to the system in seconds. Provisioning new tools and training teams to use convenient cloud-based environments is simple and straightforward, even for non-technical teams.
- Enhanced data insights: Unified Communications aligns all of your communications technology, team members, and data in one ecosystem. This makes it easy to collect meaningful information on everything from employee performance to the customer journey. With a UC environment, it is easier to collect meaningful business intelligence reports, which can help with business development and growth.
The trends driving UC for retail businesses
Like most businesses, retail brands have undergone rapid and sudden transformation in recent years. The pandemic has presented new challenges for retailers to overcome when it comes to connecting, serving and supporting customers. At the same time, new technologies in the form of XR, IoT and AI are opening new doors for innovation.
As a powerful, flexible and agile platform to access technology, the UCaaS environment represents a fantastic opportunity for retail companies to take their first step towards digital transformation. Some of the trends driving UC demand for retail businesses today include:
- omnichannel sales: Customers are starting to connect with retailers through a variety of different platforms and mediums. Additionally, omnichannel shoppers have up to 30% longer service life value than their counterparts. Supporting today’s cross-channel buyers requires companies to have a comprehensive back-end environment where they can track the customer journey and connect with colleagues in any setting.
- The convergence of cloud technology: Many retailers are already embracing the cloud as a way to store critical data, perform analytics, and support their customers. As cloud solutions continue to evolve, companies are beginning to combine multiple environments into an all-in-one workplace for distributed workforces. For example, it is now possible to connect CCaaS, UCaaS, CRM and ERP tools in a single space.
- The 5G revolution: Many of the employees in a retail environment operate mobile, manage storefronts and interact with customers in person. To remain efficient and informed, these employees need access to the same collaborative tools as UC. The rise of 5G technologies will make it easier for team members in any setting to quickly connect with colleagues via voice, video, and text, wherever they are.
- AI and analytics: The demand for more personalized experiences is growing in the retail environment. Today’s customers want fast, convenient and unique experiences tailored to their specific needs. Unified communications tools can make it easier to align analytics about the business environment and the customer journey with insightful AI tools. The right solutions can make it easy to understand customer preferences, provide personalized recommendations, and even plan staffing requirements for different seasons.
- XR and the Metaverse: UC platforms provide a unified environment for all types of communication. Many new tools are even beginning to support the arrival of XR technology, to enable retailers to connect with consumers and colleagues through virtual, augmented and mixed reality. In the future UC environment, employees will be able to connect with staff in the metaverse, use virtual reality meetings to plan growth strategies, and serve customers through XR.
The rise of UC in retail
Customer expectations are growing at an incredible rate in the retail industry. Today’s consumers want shopping with a retailer to be convenient and easy across any channel, whether they buy products online or in person. To stay ahead, businesses need to ensure they have the right foundation for communications.
The use of UCaaS solutions in the retail environment allows business leaders to optimize their workforce, collect valuable information and strengthen the customer experience.