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.
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.
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.
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:
Each 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:
The Cisco CEO also discussed the strategy and benefit this partnership will bring to you and your customers in his blog earlier this week. Be sure to check out his blog and also watch this conversation he has with Hans Vestberg, Ericsson’s CEO:
In the Channel News: Cisco + Ericsson
CRN says this pact is a potential IoT game-changer for partners
Fortune on what Cisco gains by partnering with Ericsson
As you know, Cisco wants to help our partners expand their customer base and drive customer success. And over the last year we’ve grown our Cisco Solution Partner Program to include new toolsets and resources.
Arjun Lahiri, Director of Global Partner Programs here at Cisco, writes about 2 new solution categories partners can now leverage: Platform Ready and Co-Resident.
Building a successful recurring revenue business is a common challenge facing Cisco partners. From service contract renewals to upsell and cross-sell opportunities, we know that post-sales initiatives often take a back seat, causing you to miss out on valuable and repeatable revenue gains. Even worse, by not staying on top of your customers’ post-sales needs, you risk losing their trust and their business.
So how can you turn things around? The answer might surprise you. It isn’t a more experienced sales team, or even more feet on the street. In fact, we’ve found that the key to a successful recurring revenue business is data science – information and analytics that deliver clear insight into the post-sale opportunities that exist across your installed base.
Data science is already playing a role at Cisco in predicting how customers will behave and ultimately buy. As part of this effort, we are working to use data and analytics to help grow our partners’ post-sales businesses by driving consistent engagement throughout all phases of the customer lifecycle – from the moment a product or service is purchased, to the point when it is adopted or implemented, to the time the customer is ready to renew or refresh that purchase.
Data science can also serve as a powerful force in building customer success. And that’s why the Cisco Global Customer Success (GCS) organization was formed earlier this year. The GCS team is looking at new ways to put data to work to empower our partners to enable customers to realize the full value of their Cisco investments.
What’s in it for you?
The easiest way to describe what data science can do for Cisco partners is this: it gives you the information you need to sell smarter, more effectively, and more profitably at every stage in the customer journey. With data science behind you, you can reach out to the right customers, at the right time, and with the right offers to quickly close more sales.
How can you get started putting your data to work for your business? We’d like to help, and we’ve lined up a partner-focused webinar on this topic on Dec. 15. Registration is now available online, and you won’t want to miss it as you gear up for a fresh start in the new year.
I like to think of myself as a tech-savvy consumer, and that includes my banking habits. That means that I rarely step across the threshold of my bank’s branch, since most of what I need can be accessed online, or via my bank’s mobile app.
However, when it comes to complex interactions and larger spending decisions, I still prefer my local branch. What’s more, I have repeatedly gone back to the same bank as we have added new investments, even when they didn’t offer the best rate. Why? Because I value their expert advice, their understanding of my history, and, most importantly, their ability to see the whole picture — rather than just an isolated transaction.
Bank Customers Want It All
In this sense, I am not alone. The digitalization of banking has transformed customer expectations and behavior. Advances in technology have allowed customers like me to manage our own accounts remotely, from any place at any time. Yet for the more complex transactions, we still prefer personal interactions at our local branches.
An annual survey of 1,000 U.S. adults for American Bankers Association (ABA) by Ipsos Public Affairs, in August, 2014 found that consumers are embracing mobile banking in ever-increasing numbers. However, in-person branch visits are still popular with many customers. Preference for branch banking had increased year over year from 2013, from 18 percent to 21 percent, and 89 percent of customers who come to the branch required advice for complex financial products.
Today’s customers expect the best of both worlds: the convenience and easy access to online banking, along with the expert advice and personal guidance from their local branch. In short, they expect a blending of the physical and virtual, a value proposition that online-only banks cannot match. Read More »
Several years ago, Cisco published predictions on the growth of Internet traffic – such as by 2017, there will be 5 devices and related connections for every Internet user worldwide. While the vision of the Internet of Things (IoT) is growing into reality, in just a couple of years, it’s expected to create more global network traffic than experienced in all prior “Internet years” combined. To leverage and prepare for the future of networked communications, businesses must transform the ways they manage their data collection and analysis. The old rules of capturing and storing information can no longer apply since the wealth of data is found not in a repository but in the place where data is actively collected – at the edge of your network.
Cisco estimates that 50 billion devices and objects will be connected online by 2020. With that in mind, can you imagine the ways your business can innovate its operations to best fulfill customer needs? Living on the edge doesn’t have to be intimidating – your journey to the edge begins with understanding the data that is vital to your business.
In your digital transition approach, begin with developing a strategic framework for your data processes: