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Retailers are at the Eye of the Storm - do you see how to UC?

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In today’s economy retailers are at the eye of the storm.  They are surviving, building or some are thriving – distancing themselves from the competition and gaining share.  With consumer spending “gone off the cliff” and likely changed forever – retailers also face key macro demographic trends that require them to be even more customer centric and customer relationship focused than ever.  How to keep the customers you have?   How to gain a larger share of their wallet? How to find new customers and segments to explore and covert to your unique value proposition?  And how to leverage in a strategic way trends and innovations in technology to help you increase your efficiency and effectiveness?

With Unified Communications, the convergence of voice, data, video, mobility and presence, Retailers have a unique opportunity to drive efficiencies by realizing the benefits of a converged and lean infrastructure – by lowering their total cost of ownership (TCO) through such factors as reducing voice connectivity and support and maintenance costs.  One example that comes to mind is a major discount retailer which was able to implement a new IPT (internet protocol telephony) infrastructure – lowering its TCO significantly enough to have the new, efficient and innovative platform pay for itself.

But the story doesn’t stop there.  Once Retailers have implemented such an infrastructure in even a limited number of their stores, headquarters, field-offices or DCs, they have the opportunity to start dramatically driving incremental business value in any of these domains through the following:

  1. Increasing employee productivity (e.g. needing less time….. to find an expert, to raise a multi-location and person conference call with video, to do real-time mobile sku look-up, or to clock-in & out on mobile and multi stations); and
  2. Enabling business transformation (e.g. integrating call management with CRM, leveraging intelligent routing and virtualization, enabling voice- picking with multi-purpose devices, deploying virtual pharmacist or expert stations, or unlocking in-store employee potential through mobile task management).

One such example is grocer who was able to increase its employee productivity and customer face time through better task allocation among employees and opening and closing stores more efficiently.

While there are currently certainly a handful of retailers realizing communication enabled business value (CEBV), this is not yet the norm.  The few and the bold have transformed their infrastructure and are now able to complete productivity and business transformation Pilots to gauge the business value impact more accurately.  They are actively innovating to find their particular “sweet spot” in the intersection between retail business processes, unified communications and business value.

So my question is this:  Where are You?  Are you surviving, building or thriving?  And what are your thoughts on the unique and powerful “sweet spot for your particular organization - where retail business process, unified communications and business value intersect?  And how might that help your organization distance itself from the competition?

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