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HomePARTNER ARTICLESGoing above and beyond in retail with Microsoft Teams

Going above and beyond in retail with Microsoft Teams

In a retail environment customer service is key. Sometimes it’s even the reason why a sale goes through, or the customer walks out empty handed. In recent years retailers have been turning to different technology platforms to help equip their sales forces with tools to keep staff better informed, make it easier to find a customer’s details and ultimately, provide a better customer experience.


Retail has become increasingly competitive. Not only have a plethora of online retailers popped up to take market share from traditional bricks and mortar high street stores, but customer expectations have also changed. Customer’s don’t walk into a shop, or browse a website expecting to simply buy an item anymore, now they expect an easy and personalised customer experience. 

For frontline retail staff this can be challenging, so it’s become integral that sales staff have access to tools and technology that enables them to do their job as best they can. That’s why many retailers have turned to Microsoft Teams. 

How can Teams help Frontline sales staff? 

It’s important that if you have a large retail workforce everyone starts the day on the same page and ready for the day’s activities. However, bringing everyone together at the same time can be complex, with Teams you can run daily stand-ups, which are virtual meetings that allow managers to brief staff on priorities for the day and celebrate best practice. Stand ups can also be recorded and shared with the wider business to insure everyone is aligned. 

The frontline sales team needs to be able to access information and data at the touch of a button. With Teams, staff can look up important documents and search through product inventories on their smartphone. And, if the customer asks a question the sales member doesn’t know, they can message another colleague, or even send a group message to find out the answer. It can also help staff find each other faster in big stores through its location sharing feature.

In some businesses the salesforce can number into the thousands and be made up of a mix of full-time and shift workers who work across multiple locations. Employers can integrate their own workforce management apps into Teams so it can help with staff rostering, payroll, benefits and it can even be used to send notifications to staff members about their next rostered shift and staff can use Teams to clock in when they get to work. 

Having the ability to store important documents, such as onboarding guides, leave forms and company templates in a centralised place allows employees to access them from anywhere. Not only does this free up support office staff from routine admin, it helps front-line workers make faster decisions and puts them much more in control. 

Sometimes you want to get all of your top sales staff together, but can’t because they live in different cities around the country. Whiteboard allows sales staff to come together and brainstorm digitally on new sales or marketing strategies and ideas. A picture tells a thousand words, and it’s much easier to communicate a great idea for a new store layout, feature or merchandising when it can be workshopped, sketched, and shared on a digital canvas. This real-time ability to collaborate drastically shortens the traditional “feedback loop”, where email trails can be dozens of messages (and weeks) long before anyone comes to a decision.

What global jewellery chain Michael Hill has found particularly beneficial is its ability to integrate with other platforms such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, which can drive the kind of customer data insights that create truly precious in-store experiences. A sales assistant who knows your tastes from the moment you walk in – now that’s gold.  Using Teams on their phones, Michael Hill store workers can tap into customers’ sales history and other interactions to generate personalised product recommendations, and dashboards reveal useful information such as the most popular products. Literally information at your fingertips.

Teams can also keep sales staff connected when they’re on the shop floor. The Walkie Talkie app, which allows a Teams enabled smart device to act like a two-way radio, where voice messages can be sent to an individual, or an entire group of people, just like an actual walkie talkie, is used by retailers that have large shop floors and disparate work forces. Instead of using loud P.A. systems that interrupt the shopping experience, voice messages can be sent to staff devices.

During a stock-take or an inspection from head office, high-quality video and recording through Teams ensure the information captured is accurate and available for further review. With Teams in mobile devices, pictures can be taken, annotated on, and shared for additional information to review.​

Teams can help keep retail staff on track and help monitor task progress in real-time. If new product needs to be stocked on the shelf, or the paper work for a shipment of product needs to be processed, store managers get instant visibility into what jobs have been done and what is outstanding. When tasks are logged in Teams a priority level and due date can be set, alongside notes for the job, any relevant files and then the job can be assigned to a specific team member, who receives a notification. If tasks aren’t being completed, managers can make contact with the staff member involved, find out what is delaying the task, and help move the job along faster.

Fuelling supply chain communication

Teams can also help manage a retail store’s supply chain. Events like the Covid19 pandemic, which shut down retail stores around the world and brought may supply chains to a halt emphasised the need for better communication and collaboration. Keeping up a regular schedule of video calls is a great way to stay in touch, remind suppliers and key customers that you value their business and learn about issues before they arise. 

Teams Live enables sales teams to give presentations to many suppliers at once. Whether this is for a virtual roadshow or fair, up to 20,000 people can attend to learn about new initiatives, store openings and proposed product lines.  Teams is far more cost-effective than a physical event, and because it’s much easier for people to attend from home, virtual events tend to attract a far bigger audience.

But it’s not just about one-off events. Businesses with dispersed sales teams and flexible workers can benefit from integrating Teams into their phone system, so they can be reached on any device, wherever they happen to be. Nothing worse than a supplier calling to arrange delivery only to find that you’re at another store (or at home). Cloud Calling for Microsoft Teams  replaces ageing desk-phones with one cloud-based system that allows people to make and receive phone calls from their laptops or phones, without anyone needing to go through a receptionist or know an extension number. Any messages are instantly forwarded to email and Teams notifications so they aren’t missed.

US-based telecommunications company CenturyLink found Teams critical to their COVID-19 response. After a quick deployment, CTO Fletcher Keister found that Teams completely amplified their “employee-centric culture, levelling the playing field and unifying a globally dispersed organisation.”

New features and apps are continually being added to the Teams family as businesses’ needs evolve. Special Teams phones and the ability to brand Teams meeting lobbies for a more professional look and feel are on their way soon. 

Click here to learn more about how Teams can help your retail business.


In Association with Microsoft

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