Change. It’s constantly redefining our retail landscape, whether triggered by technology innovations, cultural shifts, or world events. Organizations have always understood and planned for change, putting continuity and recovery plans in place to help them return to “normal” operations as soon as possible.
But what made the coronavirus pandemic so different? Organizations were faced with changes so large, so fast, and so many, there was no “normal” to return to.
In some cases, they saw existing trends suddenly accelerate. In early 2020 and into 2021, the massive and overnight increase in their remote workforce, as well as the subsequent increase in security concerns grew exponentially. And in other cases, organizations saw new dynamics appear, such as the need to re-examine workplaces and evolve business models to balance worker and customer engagement with personal safety.
In the retail sector, customer behaviors changed virtually overnight, and retail operators were forced to radically change many of their products, customer experiences, and delivery models. Customers became so accustomed to this new way of shopping, so quickly, that many now expect this will be the “new normal” going forward.
What’s more, even as the world emerges from this pandemic, there is every reason to assume that there will be other business outliers that will emerge. Each year, the business community—and indeed the global population—faces increased risks from increased data security breaches resulting from the global digital revolution, as well as many more major world events that are impossible to predict.
Preparing for the “next normal”
For leading organizations, including telecom service providers and authorized retailers, it’s time to look beyond the “normal”—or even the “new normal”—towards the “next normal.”
Businesses must be ready to:
- Embrace the ever-changing reality of their future with new levels of resilience, to not only recover in the face of change, but also grow and thrive.
- Reach new levels of organizational resilience by reimagining and redesigning workforces and workplaces to mitigate change at any scale across their organization, technology investments, and business landscape.
- Deliver an adaptable, productive, and trusted experience for their employees, customers, and partners.
Looking closer at the telecom retail sector, future-thinking service providers and authorized wireless retailers are asking themselves the following questions.
About their organization:
- What type of retail disruption is my organization likely going to face in the next four years?
- What will be the impact of this disruption in the telecom space?
- How can we increase our readiness for change?
About their store associates and managers:
- How might future local, national, and global disruptions affect our retail workforce?
- What can we do to ensure we maximize staff efficiency, productivity, and engagement?
About their retail operations and customers:
- How might customer behavior and shopping patterns further evolve, in the face of any of the possible future global events?
- What retail experiences will our customers expect in the event of another global crisis?
- What other purchasing methods and channels could see an explosion in usage in the event of another world crisis?
- How might our supply chain be affected in future, and what can we do to mitigate risks?
- How can we make our retail offerings as adaptable and agile as possible, to prepare for the unknown?
Individual telecom retail enterprises might face different and further risks, based on various factors such as geographic location, supply chain, customer demographics and socioeconomics, and much more. When taking those factors into account, further questions must be asked and answered. However, for most enterprises, the principles of business resilience remain the same.
Elements of business resilience
In a webinar titled Building Business Resilience in the New Age of Retail, Paul English, Interim EMEA CEO and Global Consulting Principal at London-based Ogilvy Consulting, identified the retailers who came out on top in the pandemic, and why. English said that the reasons for the huge successes seen by retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and more, could be broken down into six factors:
- They understood the importance of digital and started their digital transformation early. They were already doing well.
- They’ve learned from the best across categories that are leading in customer experience.
- They put the brand promise at the core of their evolution NOT technology.
- They understood the importance of data and leveraged the right technology to deliver relevant omnichannel experiences Innovation was broad.
- They didn’t just digitize processes and experiences, they digitalized their entire traditional business model.
- Digital transformation was led from the C-suite.
For all retailers, including those in the telco space, it is essential to complete the digital transformation and have a robust technology stack in place to create the business resilience and adaptability needed to cope with future events. For telecom retailers, that means implementing range of retail management solutions that work as a holistic, end-to-end solution.
- A retail point-of-sale system would be nothing without a payment solution.
- A retail management system requires robust data and analytics features.
- Retail stores using all the above cannot be effectively staffed without advance workforce management solutions.
- Telecom retail sales, both in-store and online, cannot work without inventory management systems.
- And all of the above is nothing without a technology solution that weaves all those elements together, with impeccable data security and zero breaches.
Ultimately, these end-to-end solutions working in perfect harmony create a seamlessly connected customer experience that will keep retail operations running smoothly, no matter what the state of the world outside.
As for those unforeseeable risks: bring them on. As a telecom retail industry—and for iQmetrix, as a solutions provider—we were able to adapt and even thrive during the last major world crisis. There’s no reason to think we’re not all ready to take on the next one. And the next.
If you want to learn more about the retail management solutions that will give your business the resilience it needs, look out for our upcoming guide, How to Build Business Resilience in Telecom Retail, in the next few weeks. In the meantime, feel free to contact our team for more advice and information.