(Read the full article:    Retail IT:  How important is a phone?)

Retail IT departments need to establish a strategy to take advantage of advances in telecommunications while maintaining simplicity and taking advantages of a variety of applications at the store.  As we witness rapid advances in telecommunications, internet and mobile communications there are opportunities to enhance the customer experience, reduce costs, improve overall communications and efficiency at the store.  However, if not careful, stores can be easily overwhelmed with complexity.  The store requires IT to simplify the use and maximize the functionality of technology in the store.

Here’s the summary page from the article:

Although working at a store is not a prerequisite to understanding the store, a lack of that background does require listening skills and a genuine passion about the store!  Time needs to be spent in stores and take the opportunity to ask the right level of questions which will increase awareness to important store functions that help them better serve the customer.

The telephone system is capable of doing so much more for a store than generally assumed.  It can be used as a platform for applications that integrate with it thereby taking advantage of business intelligence regarding customers.  These applications can also be used to assist in better managing the staffing, the customer and the inventory.

Some key points: 

·         Ask questions “How? Who? When? What Benefit?”

·         Validate assumptions with the store, listen and observe!

·         Validate the ease of use in new phone systems

·         Understand what features are used most at the store

·         Integrate the phone system with other business apps

·         Using Call reporting can help improve store sales

·         Integrate the use of smart phones in addition to mobility

·         When evaluating phone systems, use checklists
           o   One for the store
           o   One for IT
           Both need to be satisfied as requirements vary.

There are always choices regarding which vendor to use.  The key decision criteria should not be limited to the lowest bid or biggest vendor.  Focus should be on demonstrated results and the ability to understand the store environment.  Retail companies are always looking for an edge.  Partner with companies that stand behind their commitment to deliver results, with ease of use and that provide a distinct advantage or provides that ‘edge’.

A final comment:  Be the store!  Keep the vision and communication process simple and consistent.  Visit the stores regularly and help out.  Experience and understanding is gained by performing some of the store tasks.  Methodologies and Frameworks are there to help-but wisdom is required in order to correctly apply the right processes and technology in stores.

(Read the full article:    Retail IT:  How important is a phone?)