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In Retail, Insight Is Currency, and Context Is King

Today’s retailers face a rising tide of change, disruption, and challenges, all driven by technology. As their business landscape is upended, many are struggling to adapt to changing consumer behaviors, competition from disruptive innovators, and exponentially increasing complexity.

The source of much of this disruption is the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the networked connection of people, process, data, and things, and Cisco projects these connections to surge from 13 billion today to 50 billion in the next decade. For retailers, that means a sharp increase in the potential channels, devices, and shopping journeys that are available to consumers. Increasingly, retailers must meet new demands for relevant, efficient, and convenient shopping experiences, whether in-store or out.

IoE_Retail_Figure_Journey_3-2

But for traditional retailers, IoE also presents tremendous opportunities. At the National Retail Federation’s “Big Show” in New York this week, I have seen a great openness to change and innovation. As I see it, traditional retailers are ready to step into the IoE era, but they will need the right ecosystem of partners to guide them through the transformation and help them make the right investments.

To better understand these opportunities and the changing competitive dynamics in retail, Cisco recently undertook a comprehensive, three-pronged study consisting of original research, economic analysis, and interviews with retail industry thought leaders. Released this week, the first wave of primary research findings includes 1240 consumer responses from the United States and the United Kingdom.

A key theme that emerged from the research was that today’s consumers demand new kinds of digital experiences, both in-store and out. In our survey, we presented respondents with 19 concept tests — everything from digital signage and same-day delivery to mobile payments and augmented reality. Above all, we found that shoppers seek a hyper-relevant experience — more so than a hyper-personalized one. In short, efficiency and savings are more important to them than personal engagement.

In our survey, 38 percent of respondents identified greater efficiency in the shopping process (e.g., ensuring items are in stock, speeding checkout times) as the area retailers most need to improve. By contrast, 13 percent sought improvements that would lead to a more personalized shopping experience. Read More »

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Coming to NRF: Lisa Fretwell on Shopping Trends, New Frontiers

Cisco will be featured in two Big Idea sessions at this year’s NRF conference starting tomorrow, and I’m happy to introduce guest blogger Lisa Fretwell, who will be leading one of these two seminars. Lisa is the Managing Director of Retail at Cisco Consulting Services, specializing in the Internet of Everything and analytics, and how these new capabilities can transform and differentiate retail and consumer product businesses:

In today’s digital era, stores are clearly challenged in terms of sales and profitable growth. Every retailer is faced with needing to change and innovate their store to deliver results.

Overall, the majority of stores across all categories are demonstrating flat or declining like for like, exacerbated by price deflation. Cisco’s recently concluded annual survey on shopper behavior of 10,000 shoppers highlights the ongoing shift away from the store to online. Twenty percent of consumers now make more than 50% of their purchases online, and this number is expected to continue to grow.

However, when you dig down into the data, you may be surprised by some of the changes. As just one example, we asked shoppers which categories they had significantly moved from store to online. We learned that 41% of the consumers surveyed have somewhat or significantly increased their online purchases of apparel in the last two years – clothing, shoes, and accessories. Traditionally, these products are the life blood of why shoppers go to a store – to touch, feel, try on.

So is it all doom and gloom for shops? No, not if you’re up for innovation and change. There are still significant reasons for shoppers to visit stores. Our research highlights some key insights that retailers must leverage to drive healthy results and make the store experience hyper-relevant.

Our experience from retail engagements suggests the answer lies in two areas: being able to deliver dynamic experiences, and to improve ways of working. From instant response to customer needs to improved process digitization, we are seeing that retailers are increasingly relying on a combination of sensors, analytics, automation, cloud, and edge computing.

If we apply this model to a $20 billion turnover retailer with 900 stores, Cisco estimates that there is $312 million of incremental benefit to be had: $170 million from digitizing ways of working: staffing optimization, store routine digitization, and colleague collaboration; plus $142 million from improved customer conversion through insight, digital offers and loyalty, service, and cross-channel selling. We believe this approach offers the next much-needed step change in store economics.

To learn more, please join us at NRF on Sunday for Cisco’s Big Idea sessions:

  • The first, at 10:15 am in Room 4 of the Expo Hall, covers more on our annual survey results. It is led by Cisco Vice President Joe Bradley (replacing Anabelle Pinto due to a family emergency).
  • Then, at 2:00 pm in Room 4, Cisco’s Shaun Kirby and I will discuss how retailers are taking advantage of the “Internet of Everything: New Horizons in Retail.”

We look forward to seeing you there!

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How Trinity Leeds is changing the future of retail with IoE

Shopping centres have been around for thousands of years, supposedly starting in Ancient Rome. The basic concept of a shopping centre has not changed much since then; a large building, or multiple buildings connected, which contain a variety of retail stores, services and restaurants. However, we at Land Securities, a commercial property group based in the UK, are changing the way customers experience shopping with our newest shopping centre, Trinity Leeds, “the mall of the future.” Read More »

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Investigating OpenStacks Multicast capabilities (Part 1 of 3)

This is my first blog post within the Data Center and Cloud technology area. I recently joined the Openstack@Cisco team under Lew Tucker focusing on advanced OpenStack System research as a Cloud Architect. As part of this role I performed a gap analysis on the functionality (or the lack thereof) of multicast within an OpenStack based private Cloud. Coming from Advanced Services I have seen multicast as a critical component of many datacenters providing group based access to data (streaming content, video conferencing, etc.) . Within a Cloud environment this requirement is almost if not more as critical as it is for enterprise data centers.

This blog will be the first in a series highlighting the current state of multicast capabilities within OpenStack. Here, I focused the analysis on OpenStack Icehouse running on top of Redhat 7 with OVS and a VLAN based network environment. I would like to thank the OpenStack Systems Engineering team for their great work on lying the foundation for this effort (preliminary tests on Ubuntu and Havana).

I used a virtual traffic generator called TeraVM to generate multicast based video traffic allowing for Mean Opinion Score calculation. The Mean Opinion Score or MOS is a calculated value showing the quality of video traffic based on latency, jitter, out of order packets and other network statistics. Historically, the MOS value was based on human perception of the quality of voice calls, hence the word opinion. Since then it has developed to an industry standardized way of measuring the quality of video and audio in networks. It is therefore a good way to objectively measure the performance of multicast on an OpenStack based Cloud. The MOS value ranges from 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent). Anything above ~4.2 is typically acceptable for Service Provider grade video transmission.

I performed the multicast testing on a basic controller/compute node OpenStack environment, with neutron handling network traffic. In this blog, I focus my analysis solely on opensource components of OpenStack with Cisco products (CSR and N1K) being discussed in a follow-up blog. The tenant/provider networks are separated using VLANs. A Nexus 3064-X is used as the top of rack switch providing physical connectivity between the compute nodes. The nodes are based on UCS-C servers.

Read More »

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Cisco Partner Weekly Rewind – January 9, 2015

Partner-Weekly-Rewind-v2Each week, we’ll highlight the most important Cisco Partner Ecosystem news and stories, as well as point you to important, Cisco-related partner content you may have missed along the way. Here’s what you might have missed this week:

Off the Top

Cisco Live Milan is fast approaching. The event begins on January 26 and this week on the Partner Blog, Pat Sampson dropped by to give an update on the agenda and how partners can take advantage of the event.

Be sure to read Pat’s blog and get the latest information on Cisco Live Milan!

Partner Voices

I took a break from the Partner Voices series this week to make way for my colleague, Smita Dave. Smita had an excellent feature about how Core BTS created a solution for their customer. The blog features a fantastic video you don’t want to miss. Let us know what you think. Read More »

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