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Retail

If you’re a retail technologist and you haven’t yet read the December 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review, let me offer a friendly suggestion: Stop what you’re doing. Find a way to buy the issue. Sit down and absorb.

Three articles (one of them an interview with JC Penney’s Ron Johnson, he of Target and Apple Store fame). It’s all about how we need to be thinking about the physical environment of retailing. What it represents. Why it’s critically important today and tomorrow. And what retailers have to do to save the store, and in doing so, save the business.

The reality of today’s shopping behavior is that it’s cross-channel. Consumers bounce between the so-called touch points as they move through the shopping journey, from PC to mobile to store. And then maybe to the cash-wrap. Or back to the PC. Or maybe to the tablet while curled up on the sofa.

At any of these points, you can win a customer. At any point you can lose a customer. The data from numerous sources – including Cisco’s October 2011 survey of US and UK shoppers – makes clear that the store can play a huge role in online transactions, and that the PC and smartphone play a huge role in store transactions.

Bottom line for those who diss the store: it’s still where the vast majority of shopping is happening. And, if you starve your store experience, you’ll lose customers in droves – even among those who found you on the web. (Anyone listening in, Hoffman Estates?)

We at Cisco have been studying cross-channel shopping for the past two years, and late on Monday afternoon, January 16th, at the National Retail Federation Show in New York, we’ll release our latest findings on where they’re shopping and how they’re shopping. We’ll also share how shoppers responded to some of the latest immersive, interactive digital ideas to hit the store floor.

Looking forward to discussing all this with you.

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