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Take the Chaos Out of Holiday Shopping and Increase Sales By 50%

‘Tis the season for bold and forward-thinking retailers to try new things! Excitement is building as many innovative retailers focus on areas to make the holiday shopping experience better for their customers.

Enhancing Retail Mobile Apps


Some retailers are using mobile apps to help customers spend less time gathering deals and waiting in line, and more on finding the gifts their friends and family want:

  • Target makes it easy for parents to play Santa by enhancing their kids’ wish list app. This app includes new holiday games and a kid-friendly search function to add products in a “letter to Santa.” Parents then log into adult mode and respond to the letter, buy the presents directly, and share the list with relatives.
  • Kohl’s mobile app lets shoppers gather all their deals in one place by scanning gift cards, Kohl’s Cash, and Yes2You loyalty rewards into a mobile wallet. Customers also enjoy accelerated checkout in stores using Apple Pay.
  • Walmart’s mobile app lets customers build holiday wish lists by scanning items while shopping in stores, which can then be accessed by friends and family members using the app’s search feature. The app also directs consumers who order presents online to pickup locations in the store.

Creating a Better Omnichannel Experience


Retailers are also connecting online and offline channels with technology in the store to make sure customers don’t leave empty-handed:

  • Gamestop helps customers who want to avoid lines at all costs by letting them order products with their mobile app and pick it up in the store. If a shopper starts their shopping journey in the store, sales associates equipped with mobile devices will help them browse the complete online inventory, ship products to their home, and check out quickly with Apple Pay and Android Pay.
  • This year Kohl’s is debuting a “Ready for Pickup” email to alert customers that their order is ready, complete with an in-store map directing them to a pickup kiosk. Customers use just one shopping cart whether they’re shopping from their smart phone, tablet, or desktop.
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods is providing customers with an “Endless Aisle” experience. If an item is sold out in the store, the customer can use a digital kiosk to order the item, or work with a sales associate to have the item shipped to their home, often free of charge.

These innovations are supported by Cisco research on digital shoppers, which confirms that shoppers are very willing to use mobile features related to product research, purchase, delivery, and product support. In fact, 63 percent of customers surveyed would use in-store guidance to navigate to desired products, 60 percent would scan barcodes when shopping, and 49 percent would use mobile payments. Retailers can expect improved satisfaction and conversion by investing in mobile experiences that provide convenience and value to the customer, and avoiding features that complicate the shopper journey.

Cisco has also found that retailers can turn shoppers into omnichannel customers by allowing them to use in-store technology to purchase out-of-stock items. In a previous holiday season, Cisco customer Tesco combined online and in-store shopping experiences to exceed online holiday sales targets and achieved more than 50 percent sales growth.

We’re looking forward to seeing what kind of results progressive retailers will deliver this holiday season. Share what innovative approaches you are seeing in the marketplace and where you are placing your bets this season!

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




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#CiscoChat Recap: No More Bankers’ Hours

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How often do you bank? ?

For me, it’s a few times a week, but more frequently when I have a few bills to pay. Today, digital technologies makes checking balances, transferring money and even depositing checks an “anytime, anywhere” process using apps and mobile devices. Banks and other financial institutions that plan to stay ahead of the digital disruption must find innovative ways to transform and differentiate themselves. Otherwise, they may end up a part of the estimated four out of today’s top 10 financial services giants that could be displaced by digital disruption in the next five years or as Chris Skinner predicts, ‘see all their margin on traditional products erode in the next decade’.

During our latest #CiscoChat, banking futurist Chris Skinner (@Chris_Skinner), chairman of Europe’s Financial Services Club, joined @CiscoFSI for a live and fun discussion on how banks can make money, when everything is ‘free’. When transactions are table stakes.

If you missed the chat, the full recap is here. Below, I summarized a few of the highlights and insights. Read More »

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#CiscoChat Recap: Where Shopping Experience Meets the New Digital Customer

In my first #CiscoChat I hosted together with Anabelle Pinto, we were joined by Gaurav Pant and Sahir Anand from EKN Research to share their perspective and dig deeper into additional findings from Cisco and IDC. We started by defining who the digital consumer is, what type of services they’re looking for and what shoppers want and expect, all while providing the security they need.

Here are a few highlights from the #CiscoChat:

Who is today’s digital shopper?

Read More »

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Reflections on the Fortune Global Forum: How businesses will win in the midst of the biggest revolution of high tech

I had the great privilege of attending and speaking at Fortune Global Forum this week, which gathers business leaders to discuss the most pressing challenges we face and to set the global business agenda. The theme of this year’s conference was “winning in the disruptive century” and focused on how businesses must operate in order to stay competitive in this environment. One common concept fueling discussions around the disruptive market we’re navigating was connectivity. CEOs across industries – manufacturing, technology, healthcare, finance and so on – are recognizing the need to not only digitize, but to reinvent themselves to stay ahead. As I reflect on the conversations I had at the Fortune Global Forum, here are some of the points that really resonated with me:

Businesses are poised to lead on digitization if we make it our priority.

Current forecasts around the number of connected devices are too conservative. By 2030, I believe that there will be closer to 500 billion connected devices. With digitization every aspect of day to day business will change, from supply chain to customer interface to productivity, every company will become digital. However, according to The Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, only 25 percent of executives have a proactive plan to address digitization. Leaders at Fortune Global Forum agreed that value is created by not just connecting things, but by how you use these new connections to make an impact on not only business, but also on governments and society.

I’ve met with government leaders in France, Israel, UK, Germany and India who not only understand the impact of digitization, but they’re moving quickly to bring it to life for their countries. I think we have something to learn from these leaders. First, that digitization should be a priority on our national agenda here in the U.S., as technology strategy will play a critical role in our success as a country in the digital world. Second, that digitization should also be at the top of the corporate agenda. If governments are moving on digitization with this type if tremendous speed, our businesses have to move even faster and be even more dynamic to realize the full potential of this opportunity.

Your company is defined by much more than just your core products.

Most companies today make 90 percent of their revenue from two or three products that have been in their portfolio for some time. To stay competitive in today’s disruptive environment, you can’t stay doing the same thing for too long. Business leaders must have the courage to expand into new emerging areas ahead of market transitions. This takes courage!

An overwhelming majority of leaders at the Fortune Global Forum noted that this challenge keeps them up at night, and that it’s made even more pressing by the increasing number of connected devices that are coming online. For instance, with the rise of mobile, my fellow panelist BT CEO Gavin Patterson saw an opportunity to make a foray into a new market and had the courage to expand his business beyond voice. This was just one of countless examples of how BT reinvented itself over its hundred-year history. This theme of reinvention rang true for others too, including Wells Fargo. To be successful in the digital world, leaders must find new profit streams and tie everything back to customers’ expectations.

Your competition today may not be your competition tomorrow.

Forty percent of market leaders will be displaced or eliminated by digital disruptors in the next 10 years. In my opinion the average time to disruption (meaning a “substantial change” in market share among incumbents) is now about 3 years, a dramatic escalation in the rate of competitive change versus historical levels. These disruptors offer differentiated products and services and better value than incumbents. This creates a hyper-competitive landscape driven by digital disruption, where lines between industries are blurring and markets are changing exponentially.

Companies that fail to keep up with the accelerating pace of innovation in this environment will be left behind as new competitors grab hold of market share. We saw this type of disruption occur with cloud and mobile, for instance, and we must always be thinking about the next transition. It’s important to remember that the disruptors of today look much different than they have in the past. If we don’t pay attention to this next generation of competition, we risk being left behind entirely.

The Fortune Global Forum agenda has made it clear: business leaders recognize the tremendous sense of urgency around our digital future. We are in the midst of one of the most revolutionary changes in technology we have ever seen which will have 5 to 10 times the impact of the Internet to date and will impact all industries – manufacturing, telecommunications, financial services, healthcare, and others. To win in this new age, businesses must make digitization a top priority.

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The Digital Age: Work Reimagined, Value Reimagined

I’m an entrepreneur at heart, and I love coming up with wildly innovative ways to solve problems and create business value. This entrepreneurial mindset is a requirement in today’s digital age—as technology changes business landscapes and rules.

If you read the media, you associate entrepreneurs with start ups and small companies. But as technology rapidly disrupts every industry, the challenge for every enterprise—small and large—is to rethink their business models and enable their entrepreneurs to drive their digital strategy. I can tell you first hand that there is amazing entrepreneurial talent hidden in large enterprises like Cisco. This hidden talent can help identify new revenue streams, increase productivity, or even transform an entire industry.Slide1

That is why I am so excited about my mission as Cisco’s Chief Digital Officer. I have license to rewrite the competitive and operational playbooks for Cisco—to unleash the capability and innovation across the company. And I have the opportunity to do it for every one of our customers, in every industry, who wants to rewrite their playbooks with digitization at the core.

We’re well on our way to making Cisco the best example of a digital company. It’s a journey for every aspect of our business—from our systems and tools, to our engineering, to our people, and I am thrilled by the partnership, energy and commitment across the company.

As I talk with customers about what we’re doing and what they want to do, the conversation always goes to “Where do we start?” I thought I would share a few critical observations and conclusions I’ve drawn:

Driving a digital transformation is not automating existing workflows or layering new tools and technologies on top of traditional processes. It isn’t an IT strategy trying to catch up with a business strategy. It isn’t cloud, collaboration, systems or applications. And it isn’t just a technology issue.

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