The Power of Two-Way Radios in the Retail Environment

It’s no secret that two-way radios have transformed the retail industry. As part of the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, many retailers have come to leverage two-way digital radios to elevate the shopping experience through seamless communications. Despite the increased capabilities and advancements of smartphones, two-way radios still have clear-cut advantages in plenty of retail scenarios. They are more durable, more user friendly, and less expensive to operate—a win-win for retailers.

Researchers estimate the number of internet-connected devices will reach between 40 billion and 80 billion by the year 2020. The transformation that comes from a vast network of smart, connected devices will likely result in the creation of virtual worlds and augmented realities. Creating those new worlds will lead to many changes in how employees engage in two-way communication in the retail space. Top brands like Apple and Foot Locker are equipping associates with wireless devices as well as two-way radios to help coordinate efforts and deliver an engaging experience for every shopper.

But why deploy two-way digital radios in the retail space? It’s all about improving the customer experience with well-connected and informed associates. Radios empower store associates by allowing them to obtain manager approvals, answer customer questions, alert managers to hazards, and even help families locate lost children. When long lines form during the busy holiday season, an alert can be sent to the radios alerting associates that another cashier is needed up front.

Imagine this: A suspicious character is roaming your store. To avoid making a scene, the associate in the electronics department alerts loss prevention by enabling her two-way radio device in a discreet manner. Another scenario: when the tech-savvy customer plays “stump the associate” in the computer department, the associate can call up the in-store expert and get a knowledgeable reply in minutes.

However, simply purchasing two-way radios for your store is not enough. Here are some key things to keep in mind when rolling out these devices.

The learning curve. Keeping the learning curve short for your associates is critical. Even after associates have been trained to use the radios, it’s important for them to become accustomed to talking to another associate via radio and earpiece while assisting a customer. It’s not an intuitive process, so it may take your employees time to adjust to the dual demands.

 Security. Depending on the type of radio system you purchase, someone outside the store with a similar radio system, may be able to pick up your in-store communications. Worse, a neighboring store’s radio system could potentially interfere with your system. The latest digital two-way radios in the market are designed to keep communications secure for increased privacy.

Location, location, location. Ultimately, the right retail radio system depends on the location of the store. A small standalone location along a highway doesn’t have the same needs as a department store in a large mall or commercial strip. Regardless of whether you plan to enable analog radios that have been around since the invention of wireless communications or purchase the newest digital two-way radios, it’s critical to connect your staff to the real-time information they need.

There’s no doubt that the world is moving toward a more smart and connected future. As IoT emerges, two-way radios will continue to be an integral part of the retail landscape by helping associates provide the type of accurate answers and attentive service customers now expect.


The transformation that comes from a vast network of smart, connected devices will likely result in the creation of virtual worlds and augmented realities.