RingCentral Helps the Retail Space to Evolve
RingCentral invests in Retailer of the Future
In the last decade or so, there has been a massive range of changes in businesses environments far and wide. One of the main spaces where we’ve seen the biggest evolution is in the retail environment, where an increasingly competitive and complicated market has driven countless brick-and-mortar stores to the point of closure.
In a digital world, where today’s consumers are demanding more than ever, it’s not enough for modern retailers to rely on old-fashioned solutions and technology. Instead, the most successful brands are the ones that are reinventing themselves with technology that puts the customer experience first. RingCentral, a market leader in cloud communication and collaboration, recently hosted their ‘From Bricks to Clicks’ retail event which featured Natalie Berg, Retail analyst and founder of NBK Retail, Miya Knights, Head of Industry Insights at Eagle Eye Solution, Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium, Monica Visconti-Patel, AVP of Marketing at RingCentral and Sahil Rekhi, MD at RingCentral, where they explored the changing nature of retail.
I spoke to Sam O’Brien, Senior Marketing Manager, and Sunny Dhami, Senior Director of Product Marketing and GTM at RingCentral, to learn more about RingCentral’s thoughts on the retail environment of the future.
What are the Challenges that Retailers are Facing Today?
According to Sam, Highstreet retailers have been seeing a lot of serious changes. “People have been shutting down because they’ve been unable to adapt to the changing environment. However, we’re starting to see that to excel, companies need to realise that retail isn’t as black and white as we first thought – it’s not just choosing between online or the Highstreet anymore, it’s making sure you provide the best customer care.”
According to RingCentral’s research, the average retailer has a lot of challenges to overcome. Subdued demand in the Highstreet, combined with the rising costs of real estate means that UK retailers are unable to keep running profitably without a change of pace. At the same time, the sector is undergoing a rapid transformation, with the arrival of eCommerce and discount supermarkets.
The only way to evolve in the current marketplace is to embrace the digital enhancements that are available and respond to differences in consumer expectations and values. Today’s shoppers want to buy on their terms, and companies need to be prepared to deal with that.
What Makes for Great Retail Experiences?
According to Sunny, the vital thing to note in the retail market today is that the online and offline worlds are merging. People want a unique blended experience that gives them the best of both worlds.
“Customers want to be able to speak to a company via chat then visit them in store and not have to repeat themselves”
According to RingCentral, delivering truly great customer experience isn’t just about building an omni-channel environment – it’s about finding the “right channel.” Organisations need to find out what kind of communication their people want and give it to them.
Now that the customer has more control over their buyer journey than ever before, with access to millions of products at the touch of a button, retailers are under more pressure than ever. They need to go above and beyond to live up to the changing expectations of consumers. The future of retail, for RingCentral, is blended. “People like Adidas and Nike are letting customers create custom trainers online then go and buy those shoes in person, for example. The options are endless,” said Sam.
How Can Retailers Innovate Going Forward?
One of the major issues that retailers are facing today is the fact that many people don’t enjoy the high-street store experience anymore.
“Making the connection between offline and digital spaces could help to bring people back into the store. Only 23% of people like their Highstreet experiences today,” said Sunny
The store of the future needs to be a more frictionless and experiential space, according to Sunny. Using the latest technology, retailers need to look for ways to match the convenience and ease of online shopping solutions, while creating more hyper-personalised experiences as they go. It’s about giving the customer a reason to visit them in-person.
Said Sunny “We’re giving companies the chance to upgrade their customer experience offering from end to end. We’ve got omni-channel via our contact centre solution, our Engage digital channel to connect everything on a single platform and more. You can even add Glip into the experience to make sure that agents are better supported and informed.”
Can Businesses of All Sizes Adapt to the New Trends?
I asked Sam and Sunny whether they feel that retail innovation is something reserved only for the larger businesses of the world, or whether a company of any size can take advantage of the strategy. “I think that companies of any size need to start thinking about how they’re going to evolve. But they need to think about their options in context,” said Sam.
According to the RingCentral team, evolving for the customer experience of today isn’t about just embracing every available channel, it’s about finding out which channels a customer wants to engage on, and making sure you’re active there. Sam: “If your customers use WhatsApp, then make sure you’re on WhatsApp too. Find the channels that are right for your customers.”
RingCentral believes that every retailer and brand needs to think about how they’re going to connect with their customer on a new level in the current marketplace. There’s plenty of data out there to demonstrate the payoff available to innovators who are willing to go to the next level for their customers. Summing up, Sunny said, “If you’re a smaller retailer capable of creating a personal experience, then you’ll stand out even more.”
“You can really make some engaging experiences that cause your customers to feel more loyal to your brand. Personalisation is the holy grail for retailers of all sizes”