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Omnianalytics for an Omnichannel World

At Cisco, we’re about ready for the NRF trade show being held in New York on Jan.  12-15. We’re at the show expo on Jan. 13-14, and will be featuring four company thought leaders in the highly popular annual Big Idea sessions. Kathryn Howe, retail senior advisor at Cisco, will be discussing one of the industry’s most forward-looking trends – how to utilize omnianalytics that help retailers extract the most data out of omnichannel environments.

Q: The concept of omnianalytics is a new one for many retailers. Can you tell us more about it?

A: In pursuit of the personalized customer experience, retailers are increasingly moving toward omnichannel selling across stores, websites, mobile platforms and applications, phones, kiosks, and so on. Each of these channels adds another layer to the customer experience, and each layer generates a new set of data. These data sets offer a new opportunity for stores to engage with the customer.  Omnianalytics is the process of managing and correlating these large amounts of data to transform your business.

Q: Why is this data so important?

A: For the first time in history, retailers can collect truly objective, quantifiable customer data. Traditional shop-alongs, simulations, and focus groups are inevitably somewhat inaccurate, as simply being observed can change shopper behavior. Today’s automated systems, on the other hand, collect completely unbiased information on dwell times, traffic patterns, and other behaviors. They are also extremely scalable, meaning that consistent metrics can be gathered across thousands of stores to provide very high quality data.

Q: What do you think are the most important topics you’ll discuss at NRF?

Knowing which metrics are game changers for your business is the art and science of executing on omnianalytics. We’ll talk about how to get started and how to understand which metrics you need for your business. We’ll also be joined by John Goedert of Starbucks, who provides a wonderful case study on how his company is using omnianalytics to drive consumer interactions.

Time and Place:

“Omnianalytics: Knowledge is Good, Now How Can It Transform My Business?” with Kathryn Howe takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 1:15-2:15 am, in Room 4 on Level 3 of the Expo Hall. For those who can’t be there, a recording of the session will be available after the show. Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more, and do take the time to stop by Cisco booth #1954.

I’ll see you at NRF!

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Mobility in the Store – More Dollars, Less Intrusive

We’re rapidly closing in on the NRF trade show being held in New York on Jan. 12-15. Cisco is at the expo on Jan. 13-14, and will be featuring several company speakers at the popular annual Big Idea sessions. I am honored this year to be one of these speakers, and am pleased to be joined by Bob Friday, Cisco’s vice president/CTO for Enterprise Networking -- Mobility. Bob manages strategic wireless initiatives for Enterprise Wi-Fi, and we’ll be discussing the critical business issues of implementing mobile solutions in your store.

So what are the hot topics right now around mobility?

Retailers are going in some interesting directions here. Location awareness of customers is of course hot, hot, hot. Retailers want to learn from shopper behavior how they can best improve opportunities for sales. But, how can we do this without getting into the “creepy factor” of essentially stalking our customers down the aisles?

And, of course, every retailer wants to find shortcuts to ROI and monetization of the mobile platform. Part of this lies around the organization itself: It is common to see companies where IT and lines of business are simply not working together closely enough to get real value out of new technology. For example, I remember one store that was required by management to implement Wi-Fi. This was all well and good, but they didn’t implement any analytics for the new network. The result was that they have a cool technology but no idea of how to use it to engage shoppers, or even to identify how it is benefiting them.

In our session, Bob and I will discuss how you can use your Wi-Fi as a strategic asset – not just as the next awesome thing, but as a critical part of your engagement with shoppers. I’d like to also cover ideas on personalization vs. contextualization: This gets into how we can gather information without being intrusive. And we’ll talk about how to achieve ROI for your wireless investment and turn it into a new revenue driver. Please join us!

Time and Place:

 “Detect, Connect, Engage: Enhance Your Customer Experience with Mobility,” with me and Bob Friday takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 9:15-10:00 am, in Room 4 on Level 3 of the Expo Hall. For those who can’t be there, a recording of the session will be available after the show. Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more, and do take the time to stop by Cisco booth #1954.

I’ll see you at NRF!

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New Insights into Shopper Behavior – with Some Surprises

Happy New Year to all my readers, and best wishes for 2014! Of course, the retail year starts off with a bang at the NRF trade show being held in New York on Jan.  12-15. Cisco is at the show expo on Jan. 13-14, and will be featuring four company thought leaders in the annual NRF Big Idea sessions. I sat down with Jon Stine, director of solutions development at Cisco and a widely recognized expert in retail analysis, to find out more about his NRF session.

Q: Jon, tell us what you’ll be talking about at NRF this year.

A: For the fourth year, we are featuring our annual “Catch ‘Em and Keep ‘Em” survey, which polls 1,200 demographically selected respondents across the US to assess current shopper behavior. This year we expanded the survey to collect information on personalization and the use of data gathering on shoppers in the store.

Q: Any exciting or unexpected findings?

A: Yes, definitely. I won’t give away everything, but let me give you just one example: Right now, we’re experiencing a flurry of fear in retail, and much negative press coverage, around how much information it’s appropriate to gather on customers. But guess what? Our survey shows that a large percentage of shoppers are actually willing to share personal data with retailers if they receive sufficient value in return.

Q: What do you think are the most important topics you’ll discuss at NRF?

A: We’ll talk about the frameworks and service models that retailers need to develop when it comes to thinking about their data relationship with shoppers. We’ll cover the new “uberdigitals,” an emerging group of new consumers who always shop using a device, and the latest news on Millineals now entering their primary consumption years. And, I’ll discuss consumer data preferences, how social media is being used in shopping decisions, and the latest trends in cross-channel behaviors.

Time and Place:

“Digital Shopper Behavior in Today’s Internet of Everything World” with Jon Stine takes place on Monday, Jan. 13, at 9:15-10:00 am, in Room 4 on Level 3 of the Expo Hall. For those who can’t be there, a recording of the session will be available after the show. Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more, and do take the time to stop by Cisco booth #1954.

I’ll see you at NRF!

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Pick the Low-Hanging Omnichannel Fruit

This blog is the third of a series on how retailers are addressing the challenges of becoming an omnichannel business. We’ve talked about how omnichannel selling is not really about rushing to invest in some whiz-bang technology – in fact, I think stores often try to do too much at one time.

Instead, a smart approach to your implementation is to find the low-hanging fruit – projects that have the highest probability of effectiveness and can be measured against business targets as a whole. Remember that every store has its niche, and one size does not fit all. By achieving rapid successes up front, you gain funding for the next piece of your strategy, building from success to success to achieve omnichannel entry.

For example, some retailers look at how to make it easier for shoppers to buy and return where they want. Stores don’t carry the same selections from region to region, and they need processes and systems to make such an approach successful. The key is inventory management: figuring out how to sell, reorder, and exchange products in stores that also serve as fulfillment centers.

Other retailers focus on building a strong relationship with shoppers through excellent customer service. For example, instead of picking up the red bat phone or having “Customer assistance on Aisle 3” called over the loudspeaker, consumers can contact remote experts on their own mobile device or through a kiosk. Still other stores may put resources into user interfaces, branding, and site useability. These personalized approaches also pay off in better information about the customer, allowing retailers to use video analytics and sensors to get help to the shopper faster.

To help stores define their best path forward, they often make use of “innovation platforms,” systems designed to allow you to quickly set up and try out new merchandising, practices, or seasonal locations.  Innovation platforms let you experiment with capabilities that leverage organizational strengths, hitting on the cylinders you want to address. Each success helps build the business justification for the next stage, supported by your cost/benefit analyses, baselines, and measurements.

Let’s talk more about this at the NRF Big Idea Sessions, where I’ll be speaking on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2:00-3:00 ET, in Room 4. My topic is “Detect, Connect, Engage: Enhance your Customer Experience with Mobility,” and I’ll discuss how to personalize the mobility journey and new strategies for delivering a meaningful customer experience. Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more about these very popular seminars. As well, please take time to attend some of the demos in Cisco booth #1954. These include several technologies that fulfill the requirements discussed above.

I’ll see you at NRF!

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