26 July 2016
Within a climate of intense competition and rapidly evolving customer behaviours, many retailers have their work cut out for them. The decline of bricks-and-mortar retailing and the meteoric rise of ecommerce have posed further challenges to an industry that is already having to contend with low margins and cyclical lows.
Keeping up-to-speed with the pace of technological change and enabling new customer experiences is the key to survival. This was the challenge that brought Gamma into contact with American Golf, a UK-owned, 100-strong chain of golf equipment stores.
Implementing a modern inbound call management system
American Golf’s relationship with Gamma began with the deployment of Gamma inbound, the advanced cloud-based inbound call handling and inbound call management service.At the time, American Golf was relying on voice lines from a mix of providers, and wanted to improve the way inbound customer phone calls to stores were handled, particularly at times of special marketing promotions when call volumes peaked.
“We’re no different to most retailer businesses,” says Phil Barker, Head of IT at American Golf, “and so we share the same two primary concerns about security and costs. I have a very small team, so having someone spend days designing a complex Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, and then even more time managing it, was not something I wanted to do.”
Gamma showed American Golf how it could use IVR functionality in the cloud via a Web front-end. Now customers who ring a store can choose to listen to IVR messages on opening hours and what’s available in-store without waiting for someone to answer. The system’s settings also include functions such as the number of unanswered rings before a call is rerouted to an alternative site so that callers don’t have to wait long before they are greeted by a helpful assistant. Crucially, the fully managed voice and data environment is fundamentally secure and can be managed easily by the in-house team.
Powering in-store innovation through consultancy
On the cost front, American Golf’s move to Gamma for voice and data has resulted in savings of around 30%. This prompted an even closer working relationship with the retail chain.
American Golf had, for some years, been eyeing in-store Wi-Fi as a way of offering store visitors access to an extended catalogue of products. “Some of our stores are quite small, little more than the size of a living room,” says Barker. “So it’s just not physically possible to stock our entire range in them. Our business challenge was: How do you give visitors to our stores the ‘endless aisle’ experience when you’ve got so little space to work with?”
Attempts to implement in-store Wi-Fi were constantly being deterred by security challenges relating to Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance. Gamma was able to assure Barker that Wi-Fi could be implemented securely and, together, they presented a business case to the American Golf board that resulted in buy-in for the project.
The roll-out took place last year, with Gamma providing a turnkey package of in-store equipment and integration with the converged data network. As Barker states, “Now customers can use our in-store tablet devices to browse our extended catalogue online, while store assistants are right there to offer customers detailed advice.” The deployment is on track to add £3million in revenues over the first year alone.
Solidifying the partnership
After these two successful projects, our partnership with American Golf was ready to go to the next level – with Gamma Unified Retail.
The Gamma Unified Retail environment is a new concept in communications. Taking our established data and voice offerings as the foundation, we have created a bespoke platform for retail customers that enables them to share resources for the benefit of all. The ecosystem brings vendors together in the Gamma cloud so that, if a retailer is happy to use the same services supplier as other Gamma customers, it results in significant cost reductions for both parties.
American Golf has dipped a toe in the water of the ecosystem by moving to a third party logistics provider that Gamma also supplies the connectivity infrastructure for.
“Gamma brokered the agreement,” says Barker. “They provide the same infrastructure into the logistics company, but secure each organisation’s data separately. It’s saved both of us a significant amount of money and it’s a model that works in other areas where we need third party services,” he continued.
Barker concludes, “I look at our relationship with Gamma in this way. We have a lot of trust in the people, and their technology is not only great, but they understand how it can be applied to the benefit of a retail business like ours. They see how communications can be an active revenue generator for us rather than a cost centre, and that makes me feel that pretty much anything is possible.”