One Retailer's Competitive Advantage (Hint: Brand Ambassadors)

Dec 10, 2015 — Tashia Walters
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Information travels faster than ever, and with it, humans are moving just as quickly. Technology has made it possible for us stay connected almost anywhere in the world.

A smartphone is called “smart” for good reason. One moment it captures a video of a child playing hockey and sends that picture instantly to a proud relative across the country. A few moments later it provides up-to-date weather information for the drive home from the hockey rink and leads its family home with built-in, GPS functionality.

By some opinion, technology is dominating the world we live in today and only a handful of forward-thinkers recognize the technological shift is fueled by one thing and one thing alone: human experience.

Without human experience to fuel the need behind technological advances, the technology would fail to exist. Tapping into the underlying human need is the best way to stay ahead in the retail environment of the modern age.

Many companies would argue this goes without saying. Yet, it’s easier said than done to tap into the real human experience behind technology.

TEAM Wireless, a retailer with over 30 locations across 500 miles in Wisconsin and Michigan, has embraced a human experience as the driving force behind their business. They are not just a wireless retailer – for them, it’s all about the people.

In October 2015, TEAM Wireless celebrated their roots with the grand opening of a brand-new, state-of-the-art retail store in Escanaba, Michigan. It was in Escanaba they opened their first-ever retail location, in 2001.

According to the company’s Vice President of Operations, Justin Burford, “The grand opening of the new location was really special for a lot of reasons. It was a celebration of the people who have helped us become as successful as we are today.”

TEAM Wireless’ name encompasses the foundation of their company: teamwork. Their team spirit inspires all players to become, and stay, involved.

This is evident in a few ways:
 

  1. Their team extends beyond the immediate company.

TEAM Wireless invited their software partners to their grand opening in Escanaba. They celebrated together with drinks, food, cheers and reminiscing. TEAM recognizes the vital role their partners play in their success. It is these nurtured relationships that keep the company on the forefront of what is needed to instill a sense of trust in their employees, customers, and partners for mutually beneficial outcomes.
 

  1. They trust their software partners to guide the way to new technologies and possibilities.

The kind of trust we speak of is not one of blind faith, but of carefully built relationships. TEAM Wireless uses this foundation to stand at the front of the line when new technologies are being tested in the market.

Without first-movers, it is impossible to prove out a concept so companies like TEAM Wireless help shape the retail technology of the future by being the first ones to try it. It doesn’t always go smoothly, but they are willing to take those risks and use their strong relationships with partners to troubleshoot, communicate and make it a great experience in the end.  

When their grand opening unveiled a new kind of shopping experience, using new virtual shelf technology, customers were wowed with interactive touchscreens. The screens invite customers to stay a while and learn about their potential purchases in-store, rather than on their mobile devices or computers at home.

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This kind of environment makes employees and customers feel at home and reduces the number of walk-outs when sales reps are tied up.  
 

  1. They invest in their people.

Relationships and trust in their partners are mirrored internally with recent investments in their training programs to ensure they’re setting employees up for success.

Every new hire is trained for two dedicated weeks offsite. Their training departments take pride in working with their carrier and with internal folks. They make the first impression of the company one that sticks in a positive way.

Additionally, the entire management team takes part in conferences twice a year. This investment helps keep employees engaged, inspired and involved in industry and company discussions.
 

Not surprisingly, TEAM Wireless has less employee turnover than the average retailer.
 

 

4. Communication is key

The bigger a company gets, the more silos develop and the less likely internal camaraderie can prevail.

“Once a group surpasses 250 people, there is no longer a unified feeling,” Burford explained. “So we try to restore it at the corporate and district level.”

To keep the entire company connected, TEAM uses technology to communicate. Internal instant messaging systems keep the flow of information quick across all channels. All levels of the company are accessible to all employees at all times.

“We communicate often and we communicate freely,” Burford says.

If this is hard to believe, take a quick look at the TEAM Wireless website. The “Meet our TEAM” portion of the website displays more like a fun social media page than a corporate web page. Employees are smiling and appear free to be themselves.

Any company inspiring this kind of authenticity in its employees is steps ahead of the game.

TEAM Wireless proves showing employees they are valued is something that must continually evolve to meet the changing needs of its people.
 

  1. They think big.

In a time when technology changes quicker than we can brush our teeth, it is necessary for companies to stay one step ahead of the game in order to survive. As technology becomes more intelligent, in-store shopping experiences must knock consumer expectations out of the park.

Burford says, “We don’t think of ourselves as too small for anything. We’re very eager to try and implement technology that is marketed to companies bigger than us.”

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This “think big” mentality is supported by the foundational relationships TEAM has to make bold moves in the industry.

Driving traffic to your retail store is no longer a matter of being better than the guy next door. The greatest modern threat to foot traffic is the shiny, handheld, smart device your customer can shop with from the comfort of their home.

For TEAM Wireless, it’s all about the people: the people they employ, the people they provide services and products to, the people they partner with to fulfill those needs and everyone in between.

They stay connected to the fundamental needs driving the use of today’s technology by recognizing they are a part of a beautiful ecosystem made up of real people with real human experiences.

Today, companies risk being consumed by daily operations. TEAM has proven putting people first is the surest way to stay strategically competitive. 

Curious to learn more about making your people your promoters? Download our free whitepaper, titled 'Empowering Sales Associates to Become Brand Ambassadors' below.

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Topics: Retail Operations, Customer Experience

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