Traditional phone systems and lines are great for making and receiving calls (as long as you're next to the phone when it rings), but did you know that you could get much more if you had a VoIP phone system?
VoIP delivers a raft of valuable new advanced features that you simply can't get from standard phones. Only a handful of years ago, you would need to pay for an expensive phone system and connect up miles of cables to use these features. Today, they're part of your monthly subscription to your VoIP provider.
These innovations are built to help retail companies- like yours - do business better. A VoIP retail system can help you run your teams more efficiently, provide a better service for your customers and boost your bottom line.
VoIP stands for 'Voice over Internet Protocol', but to put it simply, it means phone calls made over the internet rather than telephone lines.
Most VoIP phone systems are entirely cloud-based, meaning there's no costly hardware to maintain.
VoIP is extremely simple to set up and use. You don't need special equipment; just an IP phone, mobile device, computer and an internet connection. In addition, you pay for your VoIP system via a monthly subscription to your provider rather than phone bills based on usage.
Since the VoIP phone system is hosted on the internet, you can access and control it from a web browser, just like your email.
As we've mentioned, once you have VoIP, you can make and receive calls just as you would with a traditional phone, except it takes place over your internet connection. The same tech sits behind video conferencing tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
VoIP systems have the edge over standard phone systems for three reasons:
- Low cost - it's inexpensive to set up, and ongoing fees are relatively small.
- Reliability - VoIP retail phone systems are located in highly reliable cloud data centres.
- Scalability - You can customise a VoIP-based phone system to match your business needs, such as multiple sites and users. It's also easy to add locations and users, so it grows with you.
- Advanced features - VoIP offers users dozens of new features to help improve business communication. New features are constantly added as phone system providers compete with each other.
A high-quality phone system could revolutionise your retail business, bringing several benefits that were not possible before without much complication and expense.
Here are seven reasons why a modern business phone system is a must for your retail company, whether you're a small business, a giant with multiple retail stores, or anything in between.
1 - Be in, even when you're out
When you run a retail business, it's impossible to be in your store all the time, no matter how much you'd like to be.
With VoIP, you can always pick up your calls so long as you have your mobile and an internet connection. If someone rings your "landline" number, all your connected devices, including your mobile, will ring.
Now, you never need to miss another important call, no matter where you are.
2 - 24/7 answering
As well as being able to answer calls from anywhere, VoIP-based systems allow you to answer your phone anytime. But if you don't want to be fielding calls from customers early in the morning, you have several options. You can:
- Route calls to your voicemail.
- Use custom call routing to send inbound phone calls to other team members.
- Create a virtual answering service to automatically switch on outside your custom business hours.
3 - Read your voicemail messages
Listening to voicemails can be time-consuming, particularly if you have many messages.
Many virtual phone systems offer handy voicemail management features, including voicemail to email. Your phone system will pick up your voicemail, transcribe it, and then send it straight to your email inbox, ready for you to read.
4 - One phone system for multiple sites
Because cloud-based systems are not tied to one geographical location, you can customise your telephony and have it your way. The flexible phone system of the future is here.
For larger retail businesses with many stores, a cloud-based phone system means having one centralised telephone system rather than separate phone lines and systems for each site. It's easier to manage than a private branch exchange - and costs less.
Your phone system provider should also offer free calls between your sites to lower costs. If you run sites in multiple countries, you'll find prices for international calls are much lower than those for your existing phone system.
5 - Emergency cover
Small businesses often have to make changes on the fly, as you never know what will happen.
VoIP-based telephone systems let you set up call routing in seconds. In an emergency, such as closing your shop because someone is sick, you can quickly divert customer enquiries elsewhere.
Other valuable calling features include call recording. It's easy to set up call recording on your business phone system, which helps with:
- Training your staff on how to deal with customers
- Tracking what you have said to customers in the event of a dispute
- Subliminally encourage your team and your customers to be more polite to each other.
6 - Direct customers to the right place quickly
When customers call your retail business, they want to get the help or information they need quickly and easily. Customers dislike nothing more than being passed around from person to person, wasting their time and not getting what they need.
With a VoIP-based telephone system, you can set up an auto-attendant. An auto-attendant uses a system of menus to help direct your customers to the right place. For example, if you have multiple sites, you could create an auto-attendant that asks the caller to:
- Press 1 for London
- Press 2 for Manchester
- Press 3 for Head Office etc
You could also manage it by department, with different numbers for customer services, delivery, accounts etc.
Another valuable inbound service is the ability to play hold music to customers as they wait to speak to somebody. But of course, it doesn't have to be music. You can record messages to customers that tell them about what's new in your business.
You will be able to see the impact of your new phone system on your customer satisfaction scores.
7 - Faster communication
Finally, your new retail phone system helps you communicate more effectively inside your company. It's simple to set up internal instant messaging; your teams can communicate in real-time even if they're on different sites.
Your virtual phone system should also be able to bring together your other means of internal communication - including conference calls, video meetings, web conferencing and outbound calling - into one platform, so you don't have to keep swapping apps when you want to talk to another team member. This is where your new telephone system becomes a unified communications platform.
You can see how many benefits a VoIP retail phone system brings to your business. But one more reason you need to start examining VoIP now.
In 2025, BT will turn off its traditional ISDN and PSTN phone networks. The telephone lines that used to buzz with information will become obsolete.
If you want to keep your landline phone number after the big switch-off, you'll need to partner with a phone service provider and move to a VoIP phone system.
Here are three systems if you're looking for a VoIP phone system for your retail business. Talk to an independent business telecoms service provider and discover the right system for you.
1 - Gamma Horizon
Gamma Horizon is an excellent business phone system solution for retail businesses. Horizon is a cloud-based phone system compatible with most handsets and headsets, with dedicated apps for your computer and mobile phone. It's designed to give you all the features you need in a hands-off way, so it just works.
Horizon brings you all the above features, including call forwarding, call recording and auto attendant. It also has all the unified communications features you need, including video conferencing.
2 - Phoneline+
Phoneline+ is a landline replacement telephone system tailor-made for small businesses and one-person bands.
Phoneline+ allows you to keep your existing landline number but take your line anywhere. Valuable features include call routing to your mobile phone. You also get unlimited UK landline and mobile minutes as part of your monthly subscription. Say goodbye to large and unpredictable phone bills.
3 - 3CX
3CX is an excellent VoIP-based phone system for larger retail companies (20+ users). What sets 3CX apart is its flexibility, allowing users to create their own telephone system that matches their unique business needs.
It has all the features you'd expect, including call routing, call recording and video conferencing. You can also use 3CX with any handset, making it simple to migrate from your existing phone system if you have one.
3CX is excellent for retail businesses that run a call centre as part of their operations. You can integrate 3CX with your CRM, so your call centre operatives can access customer data while on live calls.
It may seem quite daunting if you're new to VoIP and its features. How do you get started?
T2K has been helping retail businesses like yours get the best results from their business telecoms for over 25 years. Our specialist team will get to know you and your business and recommend the best VoIP phone system for your requirements.
We're an independent business, and we pride ourselves on high service with a personal touch. For a conversation (in plain English) about how a VoIP-based phone system can take your retail business to the next level, it's time to talk to T2K.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I receive calls on a VoIP system?
Pick up the phone and answer a call, just as you would on a standard telephone.
If you're using a mobile phone, download the app from your service provider, and you'll be able to answer a call with a simple click.
Can I keep my existing phone number?
Yes. You can port your existing landline phone number to your retail phone system. When you arrange your phone system with T2K, we'll take care of all the porting, setup and management for you.
However, you can also use VoIP to set up new telephone numbers, including those with local dialling codes.
How do I set up call forwarding?
You'll be able to set up call forwarding in the settings of your VoIP account. You'll have the option to forward calls to voicemail, another user's phone number, or even a group of users.
What equipment do I need to get started with VoIP?
You do not need tons of expensive equipment, miles, or cables to get started with VoIP. All you need is a phone (desktop or mobile) and an internet connection.
Of course, you can get more from your new phone system with add-ons like handsets, headsets, computers and wallboards, but that is up to you.