Why Retailers Are Walking Away From the Walkie Talkie

Article by Olivia Robinson | 4th June 2019

Do you remember using two paper cups connected by a piece of string to whisper to your siblings from behind the sofa? Nothing better captures the magic of childhood quite like a pair of telephone cups, but it’s unlikely you continued using these beyond primary school, when playground reputation and the growing prevalence of mobile phones changed the game.

A similar discussion can be had around walkie talkies in the retail space. In this article, we look at the ‘death’ of the retail walkie talkie by exploring how it’s affecting your team’s productivity, and how the latest retail wireless headsets are the perfect replacement.

The retail walkie talkie: then and now

In October 1999, the Wall Street Journal raved about the fastest-selling consumer-electronics gizmo. No, it wasn’t an HD TV or a DVD player. In fact, it was the walkie talkie.

Invented back in 1937 as a two-way radio and considered a valuable communication tool for the army, it’s hard to believe that numerous businesses — from warehouses to stadiums and schools to nightclubs — still rely on this age-old technology. Whilst historically they have offered retail businesses the ability to communicate across the shop floor, longstanding limitations around battery life, range of use, and channel interference continue to limit their usefulness.

5 ways retail walkie talkies are stifling your team’s productivity

1. Coverage

Walkie talkies don’t have the range required to dependably connect staff across the workplace, let alone the wider business. A step too far in the wrong direction and the signal cuts out, you miss a vital message from your colleagues and the issue is not handled on time. As a result, valuable time is lost and you risk alienating third parties such as customers, clients, or contractors.

2. Simultaneous communication

Walkie talkies don’t support the natural flow of a conversation. Two parties can’t talk at the same time, and ending every sentence with ‘over’ makes the discussion clunky and inefficient.

Read our five tips on enhancing communication in your retail space.

3. Etiquette

Repeatable, sustainable, predictable business growth is dependent on effective customer service. Add walkie talkies into the mix and any discretion goes out the window. Picture the scene: you’re discussing a product with a customer and are about to clinch the deal. However, you need to check in on stock levels during the conversation. A broken conversation via the walkie talkie ensues, filled with awkward silences, unnecessary repetition, and failing handsets. Short on time, the customer hurries away empty-handed.

4. Audio quality

This is the largest bugbear for many people: how can you get the job done if you can’t make out what’s being said to you? You ask your colleagues to repeat themselves or you end up making a mistake because you’ve misheard. You crank up the volume, get audio feedback and miss the message again. All the while the clock is ticking and your productivity levels are diminishing.

5. Interference

We all know the familiar buzz and crackle of a radio signal getting interrupted by machinery, a mobile phone, or even a microwave. We’re so accustomed to it, it almost doesn’t register anymore. But there’s no denying radio frequency interference still presents obstacles to effective communication. This seemingly small error does more harm than you realise by disrupting your workflow and productivity.

Twenty years down the line from the fastest-selling electronic product and what are retail technology websites raving about now? Innovative communication technology.

How wireless headsets are taking over walkie talkies in retailers

Smarter working trends are enabling new ways for teams to communicate in the workplace, presenting a phenomenal opportunity for today’s Tier 1 retailers to minimise inefficiencies, drive sales, and transform business operations.

The world’s biggest retailers are adopting innovative communication technologies that bring teams together and enhance the customer experience throughout their stores.

With VoCoVo’s headsets, users can communicate with one another from different floors, on different levels, and even different buildings, without worrying about losing signal or being out of range. Thanks to its crystal clear audio, staff colleagues can also communicate through the touch of a button, reducing half-heard conversations and eliminating crackly lines.

The headsets have 48 hours of use on a single charge, meaning you don’t need to worry about the batteries running out. Also able to connect with your phone system through integrated telephony, headset users will never miss a customer call again, whilst they can adopt the multiple call handling function that enables them to answer more than one call at a time.

Discover how our small headsets are making a big difference to one major UK food retailer.

It’s time for your business to walk away from the walkie talkie

If you can remember back to using telephone cups as a child, the magic of that experience may well stay with you today. But it wasn’t the paper cups that made that so memorable. The same sense of wonder and awe can be created at scale across multiple retail teams through VoCoVo’s innovative communication technology.

It’s no doubt that walkie talkies were hugely popular in their time, but crackly sound and range limitations mean that users’ productivity and efficiency continue to be affected.

The days of disposable battery operated walkie talkies in retail are diminishing. Instead, modern communication solutions such as wireless headsets are being implemented in Tier 1 retailers across the globe to enhance team communication and productivity. Reliable and robust with long lasting battery life, these headsets are empowering teams to wow customers not only through excellent customer service but improving staff morale and even safety. Over and out.

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