Last month, it was announced that the proportion of online retail sales fell to its lowest level since the e-commerce boom of March 2020 and in January, the online share of retail sales fell to 25.3%.\r\n\r\nWhile this dip is no doubt partly due to a rise in high street footfall, data shared by call intelligence experts, Infinity, indicates that not all shoppers are heading out of the door when they want to make purchases.\r\n\r\nInfinity\u2019s call data showed a surge in the number of shoppers choosing to pick up the phone to get in touch with retailers. One week into January, Infinity reported that call volumes in the sector were up 33% month-on-month. Their data shows that the number of phones ringing continued to rise throughout the month \u2013 leading to an eventual uplift of 124%.\r\n\r\nAccording to Infinity, it\u2019s not uncommon for the retail sector to see a month-on-month improvement in call volumes at the start of the year. This 124% lift, however, is significant. It eclipses the change in call volumes that was seen in early 2021, which, by comparison, now seems a rather meagre 50%.\r\n\r\nCall volumes in the retail sector have seen a very strong start to the year. Infinity\u2019s data shows incredibly strong month-on-month growth and a healthy 7% improvement compared to 2021.\r\n\r\nWhile the long-term impact of the pandemic on consumer habits remains to be unseen, one thing that is clear is shoppers\u2019 desire to speak to people as they move through the stages of their purchase journey.\r\n\r\nWhen consumers talk to a real person, they can ask nuanced questions, and receive reassurances about any doubts they have. Given the impact that rising prices are having on disposable income and the discerning nature of the modern shopper, catering for these shopping habits and consumer preferences is a must.\r\n\r\nThis certainly isn\u2019t a bad thing as the impact of these interactions can be particularly powerful for retailers \u2013 especially when they happen over the phone.\u00a0\r\nGetting closer to customers\r\nThe growth in online as a channel for retail has no doubt brought huge benefits. Not only is it quick and easy for the consumer, but it also leaves a digital trail that helps companies gain a better understanding of their customers.\u00a0\r\n\r\nWhen it comes to optimising marketing activities and improving sales interactions, retail brands would be at a serious disadvantage if they didn\u2019t have this data. Many have become experts at capturing it and synthesising insights, but too often their analysis begins and ends with digital channels.\u00a0\r\n\r\nRetailers should see the recent dip in online sales and swell in phone calls in the sector as a gentle reminder, if not an early warning sign, that to truly understand customers and their path to purchase, they need to measure and monitor all channels \u2013 including the offline phone call.\r\n\r\nWhile many see it as old-fashioned, the phone call can add another layer of insight into the customer journey.\r\n\r\nBy\u00a0tracking calls,\u00a0retailers can obtain a more holistic view of the customer\u2019s journey and their preferences \u2013 putting call handlers in a strong position to provide the best service and close sales, and allowing marketing teams to optimise their plans and drive greater returns.\u00a0\r\nAdding value\r\nUnderstanding that, by the time a customer picks up the phone to you, there is very high intent to make a purchase and your call agents are in a prime position to capitalise on these calls to increase conversions.\r\n\r\nPhone calls contain a wealth of valuable intel that can help retailers train call handlers, improve conversion rates, increase average order values, up-sell and reduce the cost of conversion.\r\n\r\nUsing information gathered from their offline search behaviour, it\u2019s also easier to gauge which additional offers they might be interested in. Call handlers are also able to see if a specific marketing campaign has driven the call. Armed with that knowledge, they\u2019re in a better position to complete the sale.\u00a0\r\n\r\nFor the wider business, call tracking provides invaluable insight into how marketing campaigns are performing across the organisation and can help to inform future decisions.\r\n\r\nRetailers can also identify any patterns within conversations. Becoming aware of certain keywords or phrases that keep creeping into calls will allow brands to tailor specific promotions and prompt agents to ask the right questions.\u00a0\r\n\r\nGathering and analysing data from successful calls\u00a0helps pinpoint key turning points in conversations. By understand what\u2019s likely to cause friction and how the best agents handle make or break situations, training programmes and scripts can be improved to dramatically increase the chances of closing higher value deals.\u00a0\r\nUnlocking more profit with conversation data\r\nFailing to treat calls like clicks and omitting call data from your analytics reports will leave certain retailers at a serious disadvantage \u2013 especially if shoppers continue to pick up the phone.\u00a0\r\n\r\nWhile measuring and monitoring call data may seem like a daunting prospect, Infinity\u2019s latest eBook explains how, with the right technology in place, it is in fact very straightforward.\u00a0\r\n\r\nDownload a copy to find out how phone calls can be used to gain insight into the true actions, thoughts and feelings of customers, so you can make more informed decisions and improvements across marketing, sales and contact centre operations that will help to grow revenue.