Today’s retail businesses are operating with a complex agenda. On one hand, there’s the need to maintain dynamic, resilient, cost-effective networks, and on the other, to drive a strong, cross-channel customer experience. It can be tricky for business leaders to decide which to focus on – what strategies should they be putting in place to achieve one or the other, or both?
We see it differently. By focusing on your business network, and ensuring you work with a reliable, independent network operator, you are paving the way for better communications both internally and externally. Which in turn helps to drive those positive customer experiences that are fundamental to success in today’s retail landscape.
So – it’s not really a competing agenda, after all.
The need for better experiences
When The Guardian recently listed the top reasons why Britain’s retailers can’t make ends meet, it cited online rivals, rising costs, consumption fatigue, high street decline, bad management, and the spending squeeze as being the main factors in the struggle. And in our own blog, we’ve previously explored ways in which retail businesses can achieve efficiency savings in a competitive industry, while staying relevant to customers. If nothing else, the whole thing is a complex beast to navigate.
Although some of the factors listed above are beyond the control of business leaders, with a number of complicated political and economic factors having an impact, there are some that can be combatted by improving the customer experience. Consumption fatigue (otherwise known as the idea that we’ve reached ‘peak stuff’), for example, means retailers have got to work harder (or smarter) to make shoppers part with their cash. Especially when the spending squeeze means they’ve got less of it to part with, anyway.
The same goes for the proliferation of online rivals and the undeniable fact that the high street is, if not in decline, at least changed for good. Improving the customer experience is key to retailers staying competitive in this context. As all businesses – retail or not – get better at making the most out of technology, the kind of customer experience you use it to deliver is lined up to be the key differentiator in the years ahead.
Achieving better communications
On top of what is already a challenging landscape, retailers are also faced with regulatory pressures, and a consumer base that’s more clued up than ever about personal data. Especially in 2018, the year in which the GDPR came along to shift the power balance and put customers back in control. All of this combines to make marketing and conversion trickier than it once was.
If a retail business can nail its communications strategy, it has a much better chance of leaving a lasting impression with customers, and standing out in what is a noisy crowd. Retailers that are able to rise to the challenge and create a seamless messaging strategy that works across both online and offline channels will see the strongest returns. And with only 18% of shopping done online, it seems that there’s scope for significant gains to be made in the offline domain.
For large retail businesses in particular, the need for improved communications applies both internally and externally. They’re often made up of disparate parts – offices, branches, contact centres, warehouses, and more – so streamlining internal communications undoubtedly makes for more productive business operations. Improved external communications, meanwhile, lead to a better end user experience, which can only be good for business. Implementing in-store WiFi will help with the latter – and its benefits are twofold. Not only does it deliver connectivity to the customer, but allows retailers to build stronger digital profiles based on the store visitor’s habits, which lays the groundwork for more proactive marketing in the future.
Underpinning the need for better communications across the board is the need for a resilient voice and data network. Better still is a converged solution that gives the business 360-degree visibility of your network performance via an easy-to-manage portal. By partnering with an independent network operator to deliver this, a retail business’ communications strategy can be truly streamlined and used to deliver the consistently positive customer experiences that are essential to success in 2018 and beyond.