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With consumers’ paths to purchase becoming increasingly complex, and the number of touchpoints throughout the retail cycle continually mounting, brands now face what seems like a constant quandary – how to entice customers to buy from them, which channels to focus an often-stretched marketing budget on, and how to maximise the return from every investment.

The monitoring of industry developments goes some way to shaping their decision-making, as does the harnessing of ever-savvier technologies, from in-store gadgets to online retargeting methods.

But with so much focus on ‘what’s new’, have many brands forgotten one of the most established and important channels within the omnichannel retail mix? The telephone?

Analysis of ResponseTap’s own client data shows that sometimes, the phone remains the most successful ‘aide’ to completing the purchasing process.

Despite ongoing ecommerce investment, for example, adventure clothing retailer Cotswold Outdoor realises that the more mature demographic continues to value the role of the phone during the research and decision-making process. The phone therefore remains a considered part of their online strategy, because so many of their customers want to talk to the brand’s adventure clothing experts, via a personalised channel that they still prioritise.

But retailers should not be misguided into thinking that the phone only resonates with more mature shoppers. As an article on revealed last year, ‘Millennials are most likely to use the click-to-call feature’. A Forbes article in early 2017 went on to emphasise that ‘retail moves at the speed of culture’ and ‘millennials’ buying power will soon surpass that of generations before them’.

Purchasing patterns are constantly being disrupted. The takeaway advice is for brands to know their audience and focus on optimising the channels that matter to them.

Of course, the phone isn’t relevant for all retailers. Discount stores, for example, have seemingly nailed their ‘stack it high and sell it cheap’ model. But what about more considered purchases? From bespoke furniture to personalised garments, such high value items are not bought on impulse. One-to-one advice enhances the decision-making process, and helps complete – if not even upsell – the transaction.

So where does Call Intelligence fit in? In simple terms, sophisticated tracking technology gives retailers an insight into every individual’s behaviour/actions, prior to them picking up the phone. It uncovers what made the phone ring. It tells a contact centre operator which offline advert the caller engaged with or which web pages they visited, for example, before they picked up the phone. Consequently, the call becomes far more contextual/helpful, which heightens the likelihood of the consumer proceeding to purchase.

Because Call Intelligence can identify what touchpoint(s) drove the individual to make the call, sales can also be attributed to specific marketing channels and campaigns, which helps optimise spend, activities and ROI thereafter.

So, whilst the phone may not be relevant for all, if it does play a valid part in a consumer’s path to purchase, retailers need to smarten up and remove the blind spot surrounding this potentially lucrative channel.