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Challenges facing retailers in the omnichannel world

My colleagues Jon Stine and Lisa Fretwell with Cisco IBSG recently published research about consumers that are constantly channel hopping in their shopping journey.  We all have personal experiences shopping on the web, in the store and on mobile devices. 

I recently in the middle of a conversation during lunch, made a reservation on Open Table app, purchased a case for my phone on amazon app and bought a music album on iTunes  (Doctor Who Series 6), and pulled up directions to the local home improvement store, all in 10 minutes.  Obviously the consumer trend is shopping across multiple channels, and some retailers are succeeding in this new world, and some are not.

I sat down with Brian Kilcourse, managing partner of Retail Systems Research and this was one of the topics we talked about.

Some of the areas we discussed are:

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Help Her Say “Yes” to the Dress

Ever had a customer who hesitates to buy a dress because she worries she’ll never find the right accessories to tie the look together? Or because she’s just not sure it’ll pass the boyfriend test?  Too often such customers leave empty-handed, promising to come back with the man and/or potential shoes and jewelry in tow so she can decide.

Sometimes she comes back. Usually she doesn’t.

That doesn’t have to happen anymore, and retailers have technology to thank for it.

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In Between the Numbers: What I Dream Of When I Dream of the Cloud

March 13, 2012 at 8:46 am PST

What I Dream Of When I Dream of the Cloud

  What I dream of when I dream of the Cloud… a memo from the secret files of a Retail CIO:

 To:                   Retail Technology Sales Types

From:              Me

Re:                  Cloud

Dear Retail Tech Sales Types (especially you hardware guys):

OK. I get it. I’ve been reading about Cloud in InfoWeek for years. It’s a topic in every conference.

But now Cloud is your next big thing, and you have new slide decks to show me. Fine. But let me tell you something.

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New Cisco Case Study with retailer Sport Chalet and their Foundation for the Future

We are excited to showcase our latest retail video case study with Sport Chalet,  a chain of 54 stores in four western states. California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, plus an online store, www.sportchalet.com.

In this video Craig Levra, Chairman and CEO and Ted Jackson, Vice President of information technology and CIO of Sport Chalet discusses the importance of customer experience to Sport Chalet.  The video overviews how technology is an enabler to help their current and future business needs.

With their partnership with Cisco, Sport Chalet leverages technologies such as the network, data center and collaboration at headquarters and the stores to help run their business faster, enable their employees to put customers first and drive growth for the business.

For more information on how Cisco helps address retailers IT and business needs, please visit http://www.cisco.com/go/retail

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In Between the Numbers: When a Blink of an Eye is Too Slow

March 6, 2012 at 8:34 am PST

A long-standing hypothesis around here is that we’ve entered a new age of internet-shaped shopper expectations.

The thinking is that, in this age of Google, Amazon, and ubiquitous connectivity, an increasing number of Western shoppers now expect the entire world to work like an iPad 3 hooked to a steroidal data pipe.

Where, with a flick of the finger, anything and everything can be found. In multiple choice. Where comparative price and product data is there for all to see. Where transparency is equated with authenticity, and authenticity with trust.

And where everything moves ahead at blink-of-an-eye speed.

Or faster.

Evidence of the latter was found this past week on the front page of the New York Times.

Steve Lohr (“For Impatient Web Users, an Eye Blink Is Just Too Long to Wait”) reported that Google researchers found that a delay of four hundred milliseconds or more between key stroke and computer response – that’s four-tenths of a second, literally the blink of an eye – will cause people to search less.

According to a computer scientist at Microsoft, a response time of 250 milliseconds is now the magic number “for a competitive advantage” on the web.

Truth be told, our impatient society will wait more than a few blinks for a big video file to download. But Google research shows that four of five online users will click away if a video stalls while loading.

In this day and age, it’s lack of speed that kills.

Worth remembering as one designs the next web experience.

Worth remembering as one designs the next store experience.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

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p.s. I will be speaking at the Catch Em and Keep Em Webcast on Thursday March 8th, 2012 about our research released at NRF 2012 back January.  We will talk about what in our research show how retailers can catch and keep the channel hopping consumers.  You can register to watch the event here.

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