Unified communications has proven its worth in virtually every sector. No matter the industry, you can find examples of organizations embracing the technology and enjoying tremendous benefits as a result.
However, not every type of business has initiated UC adoption with the same level of enthusiasm. Notably, the retail sector has been relatively slow when it comes to UC deployments.
For businesses in this industry, this trend creates a major opportunity. By focusing on UC adoption now, firms can gain a powerful competitive advantage - one that can have lasting consequences.
Lack of AwarenessTo appreciate the retail industry's slow turn toward UC, consider a report from Elite Telecom, Swyx, and Retail Week. As Computer Business Review reported, this survey found that only 13 percent of retail executives had deployed UC tools within their companies. More than two-thirds of respondents were unfamiliar with or unaware of the advantages that UC solutions had to offer.
While this particular survey is from 2013, it's unlikely the numbers have changed all that much. The figures suggest that despite the growing hype surrounding UC, many retailers are simply not recognizing the potential the technology can hold for their organizations.
A Long-Term AdvantageThis is somewhat surprising, considering the fact that UC technology could prove extremely beneficial for retailers of all kinds, as Elite Telecom CEO Matt Newing explained.
"Unified communications is all about the end user experience and helping to deliver smoother, streamlined services to customers both in store and online," he said in Computer Business Review.
Ralf Ebbinghaus, CEO of Swyx, added that UC can significantly cut overhead for retailers, adding further, direct value to those firms that adopt the technology.
However, arguably the single greatest benefit that retails can gain by embracing UC sooner rather than later is an uptick in customer loyalty. Because it's still relatively rare in the field, retailers' UC capabilities can impress customers, surpassing their expectations. Consumers tend to remember these instances and will be far more likely to return to the business that delivered these results than one that offered a standard, unremarkable level of service.
This good will can last for a long, long time, as long as the business continues to advance its customer service capabilities. A UC solution - and especially a cloud-based contact center platform - will be extremely adaptable, allowing retailers to add new channels and functionality as the technology evolves.
Critically, though, the window wherein UC remains a key differentiator for retailers will not stay open forever. As time passes, a growing number of businesses will inevitably hop on the UC bandwagon. At that point, UC capabilities will be seen as base-level necessities, and the lack of these tools will prove actively detrimental to retailer success.