How can retailers improve internal communication?

Smartphones have changed the way we communicate in and out of work. Given that a large number of its staff don’t work from desks, retail is in a great position to benefit from this trend.

Yapster’s chief executive Rob Liddiard says: “WhatsApp is fast becoming the unofficial communications channel of the workplace.

“It fills a clear need for rapid communication between co-workers on the move, which is great in some ways – but it’s far from ideal.

“For employees, there has to be both an initial exchange of phone numbers and ongoing administration of your work contacts, which can place a particular burden on store managers, and many are finding WhatsApp group chats to be time-consuming (taking their focus away from the shop floor) and overly invasive on their days off.

Furthermore, from the company perspective, these conversations are happening outside of their direct control. The data protection and disciplinary implications will no doubt worry IT, HR and legal departments.

Companies are missing out on the chance to enable genuine two-way conversations throughout their workforces as a result.

“Effective internal communication can help make a difference to the bottom line, especially in reducing costly staff turnover and increasing the efficiency of middle management,” says Liddiard.

“More retailers are now turning to in-house chat apps to allow their leaders to regularly engage and motivate frontline colleagues directly, rather than having to rely on ad hoc site visits.

“We are already seeing a range of innovative uses of chat apps, including the ‘gamification’ of sales incentives and promotion, and crowdsourcing ideas for improving the business and for content for social media channels.”