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Adapting to the Changing Retail Landscape with Microsoft Teams and BlueParrott

- Yves Dupuis, SVP, Enterprise Solutions at BlueParrott
- Mayank Verma, Director of Product Marketing for Microsoft 365 Frontline Workers

The pandemic has driven significant changes across industries and retail is no exception. Everything from what consumers buy, to how, when and where they buy has changed – and done so rapidly. In the matter of weeks, and in many cases days, retailers across the US and around the globe were forced to adapt to the new realities of a pandemic while serving as a critical gateway to consumers and managing increased demand.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the retail sector accounts for 5% GDP and employs about 1 in 12 workers. Accenture has noted that the sector is undergoing a “seismic shift.” These shifts in consumer behaviors, spending patterns and channel preferences are presenting new challenges for retailers, in addition to continuing to serve communities through the pandemic. Ensuring they can operate safely and productively despite new rules and regulations is paramount.

Today’s Retail Challenges

Retailers, more than ever, are grappling with how to tackle communications and maintain productivity in this unprecedented environment. At the heart of these challenges is customer experience. Delivering a superior customer experience is critical but is increasingly difficult in today’s mobile-centric and restricted face-to-face settings. It has upended the way the customer-facing retail workforce interacts with customers and has driven a need for better tools and more digitalization to help streamline communications and collaboration to enhance customer experience.

On top of these challenges are the ongoing pain points that many retailers face on a day-to-day basis. Many retail teams are constantly on the move in fast-paced, noisy environments while engaging with customers. Despite this, they have the need to stay connected with teams in a flexible, comfortable and effective way.

Technologies such as push-to-talk can help to bridge the gap making these workers safer and connected without compromising their ability to do their jobs effectively. Organizations with traditional office environments have embraced these mobile solutions for years, and it’s time for retailers to do the same.

The Solution

Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie was born out of the need to empower Frontline workers like those in retail with a direct line of communication to improve productivity in their day-to-day work. Teams Walkie Talkie turns smartphones and tablets into a walkie talkie that works over cellular or WiFi networks, allowing team members to talk instantly across geographic locations, stores or warehouses, without standard radio range restrictions. Teams Walkie Talkie is always available for use, even when the mobile device is locked or busy with another application such as scanning, providing seamless collaboration.

The partnership with Microsoft and BlueParrott takes Frontline worker productivity to the next level by offering a unique solution for noise-cancelling voice communication enabling instant hands-free collaboration. The BlueParrott C300-XT MS and B450-XT MS headsets offer industry-leading noise cancellation for noisy work environments and are the only Bluetooth wireless headsets on the market that work seamlessly with Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie out of the box. The headsets use the exclusive Parrott ButtonTM to provide instant access to Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie Push-to-Talk (PTT).

Workers can hear Walkie Talkie voice messages from colleagues hands-free and simply need to hold the Parrott Button and talk to send a voice message. The Teams Walkie Talkie feature is pre-programmed into the headset’s Parrott Button for instant, clear PTT collaboration right out of the box. The BlueParrott headsets along with Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie reduce the number of devices for employees to carry, expands their range of connectivity with teams and provides a hands-free communication experience that they need to tackle today’s challenging environment.

Anyone working in a retail storefront with customers can’t always answer a call or communicate with teams in a traditional way. Mobile technology solutions like these facilitate conversation and productivity by allowing organizations to connect seamlessly – whether they’re in the front or back of the house.

Communication and Collaboration in Action

Take your local clothing store as an example. Jane reports for her morning shift. She picks up one of the store smartphones, logs in to the Microsoft Teams mobile app and selects the Walkie Talkie tab. While Jane uses Teams channels for messaging, she can also use the same channels for Walkie Talkie. She connects to her team’s channel and places the phone in her pocket. While assisting a customer, Jane needs to check inventory in the warehouse for a different size. Using her BlueParrott headset, Jane can leave her phone in her pocket and simply press the Parrott Button on the headset to easily communicate with her team about the products. She is able to maintain engagement with the customer, while getting quick answers to her questions to help complete a sale.

TeamsWalkie Talkie coupled with a BlueParrott wireless headset with industry-leading noise cancellation puts collaboration at the forefront by offering simple solutions to connect quickly while keeping your hands free. With these technologies, team members don’t have to choose between superior customer service and everything else their job entails.

The Next Generation of Retail

While the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the retail landscape, more changes are ahead. Consumer preferences will evolve and the move to a more mobile-centric society will continue. Yet, no matter the changes, communication and collaboration will remain critical to delivering a superior customer experience. And technology will play an essential role in making this possible. Solutions that allow for mobility and provide the flexibility that today’s Frontline retail workers need will help to usher in the next generation of the retail sector.