Today’s retailers face a hard truth: their customers have embraced digital technologies faster than they have.
But I believe that retailers have an opportunity to elevate the shopping experience in exciting new ways. By integrating the digital and the physical — in effect, merging clicks with bricks — retailers can capture new revenue, along with loyal, satisfied customers.
First, retailers need to understand a changed landscape. In only the past five years, mobility, analytics, e-commerce, and other technologies have had a profound effect on the entire shopping experience, putting the customer in charge. Traditional retailers must respond with highly relevant experiences that drive greater efficiency, savings, and engagement.
Recently, I shared some thoughts on this topic with Cisco, both for a new global study on retail trends and also in a podcast titled The Last Checkout Line. The U.S. and U.K. findings of Cisco’s study were released early this year and showed some surprising results. As Cisco’s paper emphasized, customers demand a hyper-relevant shopping experience, in which past shopping histories, current contexts, and future plans drive real-time interactions with the retailer, in-store or out.
Some retailers are already excelling in these areas. Sephora, the French cosmetics franchise, is a good example of a retailer that is offering digital and mobile experiences in-store, enabling customers to interact and discover products in new ways while also bridging a seamless connection with the online experience. Other retailers have leveraged analytics to ensure stock availability for individual customers, integrating with other store locations to ship products to the customer’s home or a more convenient store location.
I believe that all retailers will need to assess their current capabilities. The mobile experience in the store is essential, both to interact with customers on a deeper level and to empower in-store associates with real-time contextual information. This requires enabling Wi-Fi and expanding bandwidth to accommodate new digital experiences.
Analytics, of course, is critical to understanding customers, in-store and out. Retailers will need accurate information at all stages of the shopping journey. That includes accurate data on inventory and customer browsing habits; there is no faster way to disappoint a customer than not having the item he or she expects, or to make the customer wait.
But retailers will also need to be sensitive to how much information customers are willing to share. There’s a fine line between an appropriate “opt-in” incentive and one that is perceived to be intrusive. If retailers get it right, customers will see the clear benefits and value in sharing their data.
As Cisco’s retail paper stressed, technology has accelerated changes in customer behavior, and traditional assumptions around age demographics are outmoded. Gen Y can enjoy the store experience, for example, while older customers may be highly connected and mobile. Retailers will need flexible, future-proof infrastructures that enable them to respond to ever-shifting customer demands.
I see the winners in retail succeeding on three key fronts:
- They will provide breakout innovations that set market expectations for new kinds of customer interactions, new ways of sorting and tracking products, and new ways of fulfilling customer needs. These will be highly relevant and situationally aware; that is, aligned with customers’ current contexts.
- They will have flexible systems and architectures in place to support these new kinds of interactions, and adapt to changes in customer behavior.
- And they will ensure a consistent, seamless experience, whether the customer is engaging via email, call center, online, a mobile device, or with an in-store customer associate.
In the end, winning retailers will shift their focus from short-term profits to a customer-centric strategy. After all, the more relevant, streamlined, and seamless the customer experience, the more likely it is that those customers will return — again and again.
Tags: analytics, Cisco, Cisco Consulting Services, connected retail, data, digital, hyper-relevance, Internet of Everything, IoE, IoT, Leslie Hand, retail, shopping
Connecting Dark Assets: An ongoing series on how the Internet of Everything is transforming the ways in which we live, work, play, and learn.
If you’re like me, you usually arrive at the airport for a business trip with no time to spare. Often, I find myself rushing to the airport from a meeting that ran late, or arriving at the crack of dawn after not getting enough sleep. So the last thing I want to deal with is trying to catch the shuttle from long-term parking — or even finding a space in the short-term lot. Some airports now offer valet service, but I’m always hesitant about picking up a scratch or dent when I give my keys to the parking attendant.
But if I were flying out of Düsseldorf, Germany, it would be a different story. This past summer, Düsseldorf introduced ParkingPLUS, which uses a valet robot called “Ray” to park your car safely and efficiently — with no risk to your paint job! Travelers just drive into the ParkingPLUS lot, and Ray takes it from there, measuring the vehicle and picking it up with a forklift-like mechanism. The robot transports the car to a back parking area, efficiently squeezing it into a tight space without trouble. And for travelers, the drop-off point is just a quick walk to the terminal.
Not only is Ray a very skilled parking attendant, it’s also a great example of how the Internet of Everything (IoE) “lights up” dark assets by connecting the previously unconnected. Because ParkingPLUS is connected to the airport’s flight data system, Ray knows how long you’ll be gone. This enables Ray to park your car in the best spot for easy retrieval. And if you change your return flight, you need only enter your new flight information into a mobile app to let Ray know when to have your car ready.
The Düsseldorf airport is the first real-world application of this technology from German company Serva Transport, which does not want to stop with airport parking. By installing its system into busy and congested urban parking garages, the company estimates it can increase parking capacity by 60 percent — saving time, energy, and aggravation as it reduces congestion and improves productivity.
But I’d be happy with the airport version, especially if it came to San Jose! With a connected robot valet, my travel days would be less stressful and more productive. The robot parking valet is just one more way IoE is lighting up dark assets — even dark parking garages.
Tags: airport parking, Cisco, Internet of Everything, IoE, parking valet, ParkingPLUS, robot, Serva
“May you live in interesting times,” the old saying goes. With its explosion in intelligent connections, the Internet of Everything makes this one of the most exciting times to be alive — ever.
But you already knew that.
The real fun begins when we consider that as dynamic as technology change appears to be in 2015, this is only the beginning. Mobility, video, analytics, and other technologies have already transformed our jobs, our home lives, the ways we socialize, access entertainment, you name it. But now IoE is accelerating change at an even faster rate as people, culture, innovation, technology, get added to the mix.
With that in mind, let’s explore some key predictions to see where I believe IoE will take us in the next ten years or so.
The way I see it, IoE will drive an unparalleled level of social and business consciousness, as the Internet evolves far beyond its current state and limitations. This transformation will center on three core capabilities to be Hyperaware, Predictive, and Agile.
Hyperaware Read More »
Tags: analytics, Contextual awareness, Dark asset, Digital transformation, diversity, future, inclusion, Internet of Everything, internet of things, IoE, IoT, Joseph Bradley, mobility, Technology predictions, video, Wearables. Mobile. Big Data
My morning commute usually takes about an hour, on a good day, and it’s only 25 miles from home to office. As I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic — yet again — I began to think of the global nature of this problem and how much time and money is being wasted. According to the most recent Urban Mobility Report, traffic congestion causes U.S. citizens to spend an additional 5.5 billion hours in transit and expend an extra 2.9 billion gallons of fuel. This equates to a staggering cost of $121 billion.
In addition to the monetary toll of traffic congestion, there are also the pressing concerns of safety and the effect on our environment. In its Global Status Report on Road Safety (2013), the World Health Organization emphasized that worldwide more than a million people die each year in road traffic incidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for age 4 and every age 11 through 27, in the U.S. alone. Transportation creates nearly one-third of greenhouse gas emissions according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
At the same time, major global trends are driving the need for significant changes in transportation around the world: Read More »
Tags: connected roadways, Internet of Everything, internet of things, IoE, IoT, Last Traffic Jam, Transportation
Co-Authored by Patrick Gilbert, AeroScout Industrial
The connection of people, process, data and things has propelled innovation across a variety of industries. Now, the Internet of Everything has gone underground, streamlining operations, maximizing production and enhancing safety practices for one of the world’s largest gold producers. In the Baie-James region of Northern Quebec, Goldcorp has incorporated Cisco’s Connected Mining solution, enabling them to create the ‘Mine of the Future’ at its Éléonore location. Read More »
Tags: Cisco, connected mining, Douglas Bellin, GoldCorp, Internet of Everything, IoE, mining, Patrick Gilbert