Retail made a comeback in 2022-2023, with more store openings than closings, for the first time since 2016. Customers returned to stores, with more of them now skilled online shoppers as a result of their stay at home experience. Retailers knew that they needed to bring an omni channel experience to the consumer, where the online mobile, online desktop and brick and mortar merged into one experience for the consumer. With POTS lines no longer viable, they sought out new solutions such as Unified Communications that could bring the immersive experience they wanted as well as save money and resources. Because many were in the process of a digital transformation for their corporate infrastructures that included SaaS-based services, many looked at Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).

From analog to omnichannel; the retailer experience

Through mergers, acquisitions, closings, repurposing, obsolescence and disappearing suppliers, retailers were faced with under-documented and confusing stand-alone systems that had been installed by various services and suppliers over the life of the store. In the U.S. the average age of a supermarket-type store is over 29 years. Facing customer expectations for in-store returns, 2-D barcodes and immersive retail experience, many retailers elected to standardize their in-store infrastructures, many of them doing so before the downturn.

Structured cabling, the basis for change

The obvious first move for retailers was to replace the wiring infrastructure comprising aging POTS wiring, network cables and specialized third-party service lines, etc., with maintainable and scalable structured cabling. Structured cabling provided for additional distributed bandwidth in support of Unified Communications, including telephony, video, and transaction data. The applications, systems and overall experience called out by the retailer determined the design of the structured wiring. Then it was necessary to determine where this bandwidth was coming from.

SIP Trunking, a deployable and economical way to provide scalable bandwidth

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a signaling protocol responsible for initializing and terminating communications sessions, which can be digital telephony, video or messaging. “Trunk” is a legacy reference to a high-capacity multi-call telephone line, supporting time-dependent multiple access for Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS). SIP trunking is similar in that it also provisions multiple user lines from one connection, but it uses the Internet.

You have a couple of options in migrating to SIP trunks. You can replace a legacy PBX with an IP PBX that can connect directly to the SIP and manage SIP-based channels. Or, if you prefer to keep your existing on-premise PBX systems, there are solutions that leverage SIP trunks to connect them to the internet, maintaining your existing investment.

Taking it to the cloud—UCaaS

The alternative to on-premise equipment is Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). In most cases the migration to UCaaS retains SIP trunking for interoperability.  The advantages of UCaaS for retail brands are mainly centered on fewer IT resources required to maintain these services, and lower CapEx equipment costs.

Thinking about UCaaS or SIP Trunking as part of your digital transformation? Don’t delay. Call us today and we’ll help you figure out what’s the best path for your retail chain.