How the Retail Sector is using Video Conferencing as a Competitive Advantage

Video conferencing technology can revolutionise companies deploying them today. One sector that has seen massive operational benefits from their installation is the retail sector. Many companies have cited video conferencing as a defining factor in their exponential growth; or at the very least, their ability to manage the growth.


So, what are the benefits?

Improved control of supply and demand dynamics
Video conferencing offers you a more efficient means of collaboration between your drivers, suppliers, warehouse managers and stores. This improvement in your supply chain management can greatly reduce time to market for your products, reduce wastage, and reduce organisational stress.

By communicating effectively with your suppliers at all phases of the supply chain, you can make sure all your products are shipped in a timely manner. A quick video call between warehouse and shipping employees can allow a more succinct explanation of delivery changes, confirm the status of shipments and verify store inventory. The result is increased accountability at every stage of the process and enhanced efficiency.

Faster decision making across the board
With video conferencing, the management team of any retail business can meet to discuss new plans and tactics irrespective of where each member of the team is located.

When the management team has been able to arrive at a conclusion, video conferencing also makes it easy to communicate the information to different offices and stores. This will not just cut down on travel and manpower costs, but it will also ensure that messages get to the individuals directly, with coherence and consistency across the company. This helps eliminate the dissemination of wrong or incomplete information; a serious cultural problem in many organisations, large and small.

Improvements in customer service
One of the biggest challenges facing large retail outlets with lots of stores is providing training to new employees and re-training current employees on the policies of the company. Business pressures mean that introducing new sales procedures often comes second to the demands of day to day business. Using video conferencing to organise e-learning and online training programs deals with this challenge. Allowing managers to be able to train everyone, new and old employees alike, at short notice; regardless of their location. Video conferencing makes it easy for businesses to demonstrate new product launches in B2B environments, and teach in-house teams how to market a new product to consumers.

Below are 3 high profile retail organisations that have benefited from the implementation of video conferencing in day to day operations of their retail work flow.

Spar is an international grocery chain with over 2,500 stores in the UK alone. The sheer number of the stores means that the business operates a meeting culture in order to make sure everyone involved with the business is on the same page.

The company holds 50 executive meetings each year with representatives coming in from across the country. This meant that there were, in the past, always cases where meetings had to be rescheduled because some people got stuck on the way due to bad weather, or simply could not make it; thereby wasting company time and impeding progress.

To deal with this problem, the company adopted the Avaya Scopia video conferencing solution.

This solution has since made meetings more efficient than ever, as meeting participants can make calls to each other before meeting dates to deliberate on points in the agenda. This has drastically cut down the number of times meetings have had to be rescheduled.

This reduction in the number of overall meetings the business holds means that staff can now focus on important local matters and only hit the road when it is absolutely necessary.

Dr Martens, UK
For over 50 years, the Dr Martens brand has remained trendy and cool in the footwear and apparel niche.

The bulk of their products are designed in Camden Town, manufactured in the Far East, and distributed worldwide from their retail and online outlets. This growing chain posed communication challenges between the company’s offices.

To deal with this, the company installed StarLeaf GT mini room systems throughout its main offices. The room systems were also connected to the Star Leaf cloud for easy, faster collaboration. The deployment also features StarLeaf VMRs, which are vital for scheduled meetings. The ‘QuickMeetTM’ capability of this team allows as many as five people to meet instantly. It also allows the staff to make unlimited point-to-point calls.

This technology instantly improved productivity across the board, and the company paid off the cost of installation in no time by cutting down on travel costs and missed supply deadlines.

Majid Al Futtaim Hypermarkets Carrefour
This is a retail group with over 110 stores in 17 countries. The company is looking to expand to 200 stores and move into an additional 10 countries by 2017.

To help execute these development plans, the company needed to find a way to reduce travel costs, increase productivity and promote efficiency. They embraced video conferencing as a means to achieve their ambitious corporate targets. One of the main needs of the business was a video conferencing solution that necessitated minimal involvement from the company’s IT group, and one that could be easily used by any of the staff. A Lifesize video conferencing solution was chosen to meet this criteria. The company is now well on the way to achieving its set goals and objectives.

Retail groups have a myriad of people contributing to their success, from geographically dispersed locations. Video conferencing bridges the gap between stakeholders in the most efficient way possible. Companies in the retail arena are gradually realising, that, to remain competitive, they need to make use of this technology. Pioneers, such as Doc Martins, Spar and Carrefour are clearly signposting the way to sustainable growth.