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Zello Staff
June 02, 2021

For Retailers, Fast Communication is Everything


Picture this: you’re checking out at the grocery store. You’re hangry, you just want to get home, but when the checkout clerk goes to scan one of your items, there’s no barcode. They pick up the phone and call for a price check. You wait. You get hangrier. Eventually, an employee working the floor appears, takes a look at the item, and heads off into the grocery store wilderness. You’re frustrated. Everyone behind you is frustrated. You can feel them irrationally hating you for picking the one item that didn’t have a barcode. By the time the employee hurries back with a price, you don’t even want it anymore.

Time is of the essence for associates, whether they’re waiting for another employee to locate inventory, calling for additional help when lines get too long, or answering a customer question. 

Traditional communication solutions, such as phone and radio, are bulky, often not fitting with the avant-garde image many retailers strive to project to their customers. Radio in particular can suffer from unreliable and crossed signals, as well as from limited handset supply due to the expense of the equipment and of licensing requirements. Traditional phone calls are also off-putting to customers and are not the fastest way to communicate in a busy environment. 

With this in mind, we’ve put together a few recommendations on what to consider when looking beyond phone calls and radio to a more modern retail communication system that creates efficient, customer-friendly solutions.

Bakery Workers on Tablet and Phone

How will you be connecting?

A good communication solution is reliable first and foremost. Employees need to know that when they turn to their device, they’ll be able to connect. Each use case is different, so take some time to think out whether you’d like to be able to connect over WiFi or cell data. Before choosing WiFi, make sure that the connection in the store is strong. If cellular data is more your style, choose an app like Zello to ensure you’re not eating up too much data to function. Zello can take advantage of both WiFi and cellular data for optimal flexibility and functionality.  

Does the solution address device theft and loss?

Company-issued communication devices can be difficult to keep track of, especially with shift work. Zello customers have reported using Zello’s location tracking feature to locate devices that have been stolen or misplaced. Zello can also be used on employees’ own devices.

Is there high employee turnover and rotation between locations?

In the retail sector, many employees start work with and leave companies quickly, while others work in seasonal shifts. 

The web-based Management Console in Zello Work was designed with easy onboarding and high turnover in mind, making it easy for administrators to manage features, settings, users, and devices. With the Shared Devices feature, employees sign in with their name and photo without the use of usernames and passwords. When they sign out, their data is cleared from the device, and it’s ready for the next user.

For chains that rotate employees between locations, Zello allows multiple stores to be on one network, with a dynamic channel set for each store location. Employees can easily join the channels they need to be a part of and turn off the ones that are irrelevant to them at the moment for that particular shift. 

What accessories are needed?

With this in mind it is critical to consider what devices and accessories will allow employees to do their jobs most efficiently and aren’t off-putting to customers. For that reason, it’s important to choose devices and other communication solutions that pair well with either wired or wireless accessories, are functional, and are durable in case of drops.


Retail worker in warehouse

Zello can help you meet these challenges

When you choose Zello as your go-to communication solution, you will:

  1. Streamline communication between the front and back of the house

Checking on inventory and doing price checks can be time consuming and frustrating for customers, and the process can be rife with miscommunication. With Zello, if a team member in the stock room misheard or wants to double check the requested size, style, and color, they can use the message replay feature to listen again without having to call back the sales rep. Similarly, they can call for any other reason, such as with replacement possibilities. All of this is possible without the sales rep ever having to leave the customer’s side. 

  1. Quickly reach mobile staff members

Retail workers rarely stay in one place. They walk around the store helping customers, fixing displays, restocking shelves, cleaning messes, and completing many other expected and unexpected tasks. With Zello, when a line gets long at a grocery store or a large order comes in, a cashier may put out the call for assistance on the most relevant team channel, without having to use a PA. If there’s a disagreement or tension between a customer and employee, the employee can quickly and discreetly call a manager to their location to provide help, rather than wandering in search of them. Instant, reliable connection makes all the difference. 

  1. Communicate discreetly in front of guests

Retail requires constant communication, but customers don’t necessarily need or want to be privy to it. This is especially true in a luxury retail environment. Zello can be paired with an in-ear, push-to-talk headset so that the customer doesn’t have to hear, “Has the lady in the red coat in electronics been helped yet?” Or “The customer in blue in plumbing is a bit difficult, can I get a manager to come help?” Zello allows employees to communicate quietly without disturbing shoppers.

  1. A fully integrated app experience

Zello works on a wide range of devices and can integrate and work in tandem with existing applications. This means employees can maintain attention without distraction and do not have to clumsily switch between applications and devices when helping customers. Limiting the number of necessary devices reduces costs for the company and simplifies workflows.

  1. A brand-friendly look

Image is everything in retail, meaning that sometimes a bulky device like a radio or walkie talkie might not fit the look you’re going for. Instead, something sleek like a phone or tablet may be more fitting. A small Bluetooth headset or AirPods can be paired with these devices to keep communication throughout the store quiet. Zello works with a wide range of different accessories and iOS and Android devices, making it a flexible communication for any environment.

Summing up

In-store service boosted through streamlined technology solutions sets an atmosphere of  professionalism and improves the customer shopping experience. Tools like Zello, tablets, mobile scanners, and headsets can go a long way towards reducing wait times and inefficiencies. They also help reduce frustration amongst employees, making it easier for them to complete tasks and stay informed. Consider enrolling in a Zello Work trial for free to see how push-to-talk can help you stay ahead of the competition.