It’s more difficult than ever for retailers to stand out from their competition. The reason: Internet-based transparency, next-day supply chains, rapid product replication, and low barriers to market entry are rapidly increasing commoditization and driving down per-unit revenues across the retail industry.
As a result, margins tighten, private-label products proliferate, brand loyalty withers, and, inevitably, industry sectors go through a process of brand consolidation. And while consumer electronics (CE) retailers are currently in the “commoditization crosshairs,” almost all retail segments have gone through the process of brand consolidation.
To help retailers overcome these challenges, the Cisco® Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) conducted research to study the strategic options available to CE retailers.
The consumerization of information technology has been a boon to innovations in the workspace. With mobile phones and tablets, today’s employees and consumers carry a significant amount of technologies on them. Retailers can leverage these technologies to enable employee productivity and improve customer experience if it can be managed effectively an securely.
Today’s consumers are technology enabled, capable of shopping any time, any location and geographically mobile. Catching and keeping these shoppers are not easy tasks for brick and mortar or e-Commerce retailers today.
What are some innovative ways the retail industry is adjusting to the needs of shoppers today?
Online Commerce with Pop-Up Stores and Personalized Products
This was the scene in San Francisco this week where IndoChino, a menswear provider and tailor company, set up a one week temporary location on the busy Market Street. Integrating made to measure tailoring, traveling locations and online storefront, this allows customers to get measured for custom suits on site and products delivered to home.
Future orders for personalized products can be placed online including shirts and accessories. The result combines the scaling of mass production with personalized products, online customer service and only one on site visit in pop up store locations.
Retailing on Wheels -- Going to where the shoppers are
In June 2012, National Retail Federation released its National Retail Security Survey. In that report it suggests retailers in 2011 lost $34.5 billion to retail theft, or shrink – the loss of inventory due to employee theft, shoplifting, paperwork errors, or supplier fraud. Overall that accounts for approximately 1.41 percent of retailers sales last year.
One of the areas which retailers have invested in to address the shrink and security issue in gereral is video survieillance. This can cover areas including loading docks and the parking lot at distribution centers, or along the aisles and checkout in the stores for theft or criminal activities.
Cisco recently announced a new Video Surveillance Manager 7 with Suite of Hyper-Scalable Connected Physical Security Solutions that can help retailers address their video surveillance needs in a scalable and flexible manner. Read More »
This past spring, Cisco and John Lewis—the United Kingdom’s leading department store retailer—successfully completed their pilot of the Cisco StyleMe virtual fashion mirror. The Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) ran the pilot, while partnering with C In-store and AITech.
During the six-week pilot (April and May), more than 1,000 customers tried StyleMe (an average of 40 a day)—far more than expected. In addition:
A staggering 34,000-plus garments were viewed in the outfit builder, and almost 2,500 garments were tried on virtually.
67 percent of customers gave the mirror a positive assessment, and some great shopper stories emerged—including one from a delighted disabled lady, who was able to try on clothes for the first time in a store, thanks to Cisco StyleMe.
The John Lewis Partners (staff) also loved it. They found that StyleMe was a tool that created shop floor “theater” (crowds formed) while helping them provide great service sell even more effectively. They came up with lots of ideas on how to develop the experience even further.