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How to Create an Omnichannel Strategy that’s Worth Celebrating

This holiday season customers have more ways to shop than ever before. Retailers are making it easier to get the right presents by providing enhanced delivery options – from buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) to curbside pickup. While this freedom is empowering for customers, it creates a new level of complexity for retailers as seen by the hurdles experienced this holiday season. As this complexity becomes the new normal, the retailers that will thrive are those who deliver a consistent branded shopping experience across all channels.

No retailer has yet fully mastered the seamless omnichannel experience, but a few are well on their way:

Nordstrom gives customers access to advice from their favorite sales associate anytime through their TextStyle program. If a customer needs a personalized recommendation, a sales associate can scan an item, provide a photo and brief description, and send them a buying code via text. Once a customer types “buy,” the sale is charged to their preferred credit card and sent to the shipping address that’s on file.

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Kohl’s is seeing success with its mobile app which provides a consistent experience by allowing customers to access their virtual shopping bag, available loyalty points, and promotions while shopping in-store or online.

Coach does a fantastic job of integrating channels by allowing customers online to search in-store inventory in their area for the specific product they want. When a customer completes the purchase in store, the associate sends them a follow up email that includes personalized recommendations to encourage repeat purchases.

The shopping experience demanded in today’s competitive climate needs to be seamless. Retailers can be successful by creating one digital platform and pushing content and functionality across multiple channels, instead of trying to integrate a portfolio of different assets.

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One way retailers can start is to repurpose content from their online and mobile properties and bring it into the store using digital signage and tablets. This allows them to test which content increases conversions and apply changes instantly across multiple stores.

And content isn’t the only thing that can be duplicated across channels. Retailers can scale shopper engagement through digital experiences in the store. By using digital capabilities like remote expert, retailers can continuously offer high levels of service and expertise in a way that isn’t dependent on in-store staffing. Promotions can also be offered in real-time to improve conversion or maintain competitive pricing.

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Retailers should evaluate each step in the shopper journey and assess where digitization can improve the experience. They should also consider making use of the data that comes from digitizing those steps to make better decisions on what’s working and what isn’t.

While retailers have access to a mountain of data from online and mobile shopping journeys, they have a big opportunity to gather data from the in-store experience. Retailers will get a full picture of each customer’s journey when they combine data across all channels and build processes that allow them to deliver the right experience at the right time – whether shorter checkout, personalized assistance, or more relevant promotions. At Cisco we’re building the most advanced IOT solution in the industry by giving retailers access to information in the store that they can apply online and share across all channels.

What strategies do you think will be effective for creating seamless customer experiences? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

For more innovative retail strategies, see our Top 10 list of how you can create the ultimate shopping experience:

10 Ways Digital Technologies Can Create the Ultimate Shopping Experience from Cisco Business Insights

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3 Ways Santa’s Store Helpers are Making Shopping Easier this Holiday Season

Holiday shopping isn’t like it used to be. Retail sales associates – a.k.a Santa’s helpers – are taking on more than just ushering shoppers into fitting rooms and helping them check out. Today, their role more resembles that of a concierge.

Here are three ways the role of the sales associate is changing:

#1: The sales associate is now your product and inventory expert.

It’s shocking to think that today only 30% of employee time is spent on customer service. To allow sales associates to spend more time with customers and provide a better shopper experience, stores are asking associates to evolve from clerk to expert. In this new role, associates are providing more value to customers by saving them time and helping them make better decisions.

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Moustaches and the Customer Experience

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Photo by Alan Light

Remember when moustaches were cool? For those who weren’t paying attention, it was back in the 1980s when Tom Selleck–sporting that signature facial hair–ruled the T.V. airwaves as private investigator Magnum, P.I. Most guys old enough to shave (or who thought they were) tried to proclaim their manliness with a Magnum-style moustache. We thought 128 kB of RAM and the 5 1/4″ floppy drives on our IBM XT personal computers were pretty neat, too.

The early 80s were also the last time many consumers thought that contact centers–or call centers, as they were known then–were cool. People appreciated being able to call businesses if they had a question about their bill or needed product information (remember, those were the Dark Ages before the internet). But as related in a noted white paper, contact centers soon became more about minimizing costs than providing exceptional customer care. And of course we started getting annoying telemarketing calls in the middle of dinner.

In the last couple of years, however, customer care has begun to swing back in favor of the customer.

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A Broad Partner Ecosystem is Pivotal To Delivering the Total Customer Experience

Many highly successful companies have a common characteristic- their customer care strategy is supportive of, and in alignment with, their corporate brand strategy, often driving to provide a consistent customer care experience, irrespective of the channel used for customer engagement.

Customers’ expectations and demands are growing and changing rapidly. Customers today are different from yesterday. They want to be helped quickly, efficiently, and on their terms. Businesses must learn to successfully deliver against these customer expectations.

Cisco’s broad partner ecosystem plays a pivotal role in helping businesses achieve these desired outcomes. This includes delighting their customers, and winning (and keeping) new business. Cisco collaborates every day with hundreds of established partners who have a wealth of experience and expertise in the customer care industry and our solutions. As trusted advisors, Cisco’s channel partners are positioned to deliver unique value-add services.

Along with our partners, Cisco makes tremendous investments in our partner ecosystem and our shared momentum continues to build. We recently hosted Cisco Customer Collaboration Sales Summits in the Americas and in Europe, bringing together over a thousand partners, developers, and Cisco sales experts to learn and share best practices. Read More »

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Cisco Meraki Systems Manager Extends Enterprise Mobility Management to the Cloud

The industry is going beyond BYOD—it’s not just about simply connecting the device anymore: the mobile landscape has grown to include apps, devices and content, all of which require security and management. This is no easy task. Enterprise mobility management (EMM) is no longer a nice-to-have for our customers—it is a necessity. You need a mobile strategy.

We at Cisco have been steadily building out our mobility portfolio across infrastructure, policy and management over the past few years to provide our customers with what they need to get ahead of the mobile trend.

It has always been Cisco’s strategy to use open API’s with ISE to integrate with host of 3rd party EMM vendors, including Citrix, MobileIron, Airwatch and many more. We are now extending that flexibility to create a cloud-managed EMM offering with our Cisco Meraki solution.  The latest addition to the Cisco mobility portfolio, the Cisco Meraki Systems Manager Enterprise is an evolution of Cisco Meraki’s existing MDM cloud offer, and a natural extension of the Cisco Meraki network management solution (e.g. extending management of wireless access points to the management of devices connecting to the enterprise domain).

Cisco is committed to customer choice, and will continue to offer different options to the market, including ecosystem EMM partner solutions. The addition of the Cisco Meraki Systems Manager broadens that portfolio to strengthen our offering and empower our customers attain the mobility solution best suited for their specific requirements.

For more information on the Cisco Meraki Systems Manager, read the full announcement blog here.

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