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A Retail Revolution: The Digital Generation Is Changing the Way We Work, Live, Play, Learn, and Shop

Retailers once had a pretty clear idea of who shopped where and how they did it. After all, there were not that many options available for shoppers. Consumers would see an ad or peruse a catalog, and then visit the physical store with the hope that their preferred item was in stock.

These days, retailers understand there is an entirely new kind of shopper. Indeed, since the advent of e-commerce, retail complexity has increased exponentially, and today’s digital consumer navigates a wide range of channels and potential shopping journeys.

As a recent Cisco survey of retail trends discovered, e-commerce has added about 40 possible shopping options for a typical shopper. With the rise of the Internet of Everything (IoE) — the explosion in networked connections of people process, data, and things — potential shopping journeys will expand to 800 and beyond. Some of the new options coming into play could include mobile devices equipped for live Web engagements, checkout optimization, mobile payments, wearables, augmented reality, and drone delivery.

The variety of journeys available to shoppers is growing exponentially.

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Source: Cisco Consulting Services, 2015

This sweeping digital transformation has dramatically altered the shopping behaviors of consumers, who now demand experiences that are contextual and hyper-relevant (enabling consumers to receive what they want, when and how they want it), whether in-store or out. As a result, retailers are reinventing their business models and rethinking much of what they once knew, including traditional customer segmentation.

Video: IoE in Retail: Hyper-Relevance through Consumer Context

Increasingly, we are entering a period that has been referred to as “post-demographic consumerism” in which consumption patterns are no longer defined by traditional demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income, family status, and the like. This presents a significant challenge to retailers already grappling with growing complexity in their operations.

For example, Cisco’s research reveals that Gen Y is far from monolithic. On one hand, Gen Y continues to accelerate the shift to online channels (faster than any other group): although 34 percent make more than half of all purchases online as they seek convenience and greater access to information, 54 percent would shop only in stores for the next month if they had to make a choice. Moreover, just as the physical store remains important to Gen Y, many seniors are shopping online or with mobile devices.

In short, consumer segments are increasingly fragmented and ephemeral. The sheer number of potential shopping journeys is growing exponentially, and the change is occurring faster than ever before. For an individual shopper, however, the journeys are also dynamic. Consumers are constantly shifting to other journeys as new innovations emerge —
and faster than retailers can respond. Compounding this, the velocity of innovation is increasing as IoE dissolves traditional barriers (for example, through the low cost of app creation, the Kickstarter-style funding model, and so forth).

Since every retailer is unique, and there is enormous variation across categories, each retailer must define its own target segments, and then be prepared for the rapid evolution of new “microsegments.” Cisco is working with retailers to define target segments and prepare for the evolution of new ones.

To enable the customer outcomes that will determine the winners of the IoE era, most retailers understand that they need to know their customers as never before and, critically, possess the requisite business agility to adapt. Fortunately, IoE and consumer analytics technology provide the platform to truly understand, engage and respond to their customer.

Analytics is a key competitive frontier in the IoE era, enabling retailers to provide consumer experiences, offers, and interactions that are contextual, relevant, and timely. Moreover, analytics empowers the retailer to respond dynamically to constantly changing customer behavior.

To succeed in this area, retailers need a technology strategy that captures data at the “edge” of the network — from mobile devices, sensors, video cameras, and the like — and analyzes it locally, in real time, to respond to fast-moving opportunities. By leveraging analytics and other key elements of IoE such as video and mobility, retailers can drive greater efficiency in each customer journey, offer real-time savings, and create a more relevant customer engagement.

As shopper segmentation blurs, analytics is critical to understanding the new digital customer. Old or young, rich or poor, all customers have value and want to interact with retailers in new, hyper-relevant ways. IoE-driven solutions are the way to do it.

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In Emerging and Developed Markets Alike, Banking Customers Demand IoE-Driven Services

Around the world, banking customers express similar frustrations: they believe the value they receive from their banks is declining, at a time when their trust in those banks already has eroded.

What’s more, according to a Cisco survey of 7,200 banking customers in 12 countries, four out of five customers would trust a non-bank, such as a technology company or retailer, to handle their banking needs. Some of those disruptive competitors are succeeding where banks fail: by engaging customers with convenient transactions and value-added services.

The Cisco study found that Internet of Everything (IoE)-enabled services can help restore the value customers expect from banking institutions. IoE — the networked connection of people, process, data and things — makes it possible for banks to offer a more relevant, engaging, and convenient experience for customers.

Of the $19 trillion in global economic value Cisco estimates IoE can create over the next decade, 7 percent ($1.3 trillion) is accounted for in the finance market and could be addressed with concepts included in this survey.

The digitization of business and society is happening at a rapid pace and people are looking for improved, digital services that make life easier. Banks need to embrace this pace of change and deliver relevant services or risk becoming obsolete in a market where other providers are stepping in to fill the gaps.

Read More »

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IoE Can Help Banks Regain Customer Trust by Delivering Better Advice and Mobile Services

In years past, a visit to the neighborhood bank branch often featured face-to-face meetings with a trusted advisor who would guide customers through their most challenging financial journeys — often over a cup of coffee. Today, many banks have ceded that privileged position of trusted advisor. While banks have made great strides in using technology to cut costs and streamline transactions, customer experience and engagement have suffered.

In a Cisco survey of 7,200 bank customers in 12 countries, 43 percent of customers said their primary bank does not understand their individual needs. As a result, many respondents feel that their choice is between bad financial advice or no advice all. Moreover, nearly one in four bank customers intend to choose another provider for their next financial product or service. Increasingly, that provider could be a non-bank such as Apple, PayPal, or a retailer. Four out of five customers would trust a non-bank to handle their banking needs.

The Advice Advantage: How Banks Can Close the ‘Value Gap’ and Regain Customer Trust from Cisco Business Insights

Clearly, the perceived value that customers receive from banks is declining, along with their trust in banks to represent their interests. Banks are seen as commoditized — and replaceable — providers of transactions. Meanwhile, in the wake of the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and some well-publicized banking scandals, banks’ “trusted advisor” status has suffered. Moreover, it is easier than ever to switch to a non-bank that customers believe has a better understanding of their needs.

Read More »

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The Advice Advantage: How Banks Can Close the ‘Value Gap’ and Regain Customer Trust

Today’s banking consumers are used to experiences that reflect their likes, dislikes, past histories, and even their future plans. But not always from their banks. These kinds of interactions are more common when buying an online book, streaming a movie, or planning a vacation. Despite numerous omnichannel initiatives, many banks continue to lag in providing contextual, relevant, and convenient experiences to their customers. And while many customers yearn for personalized financial guidance, a Cisco survey of 7,200 smartphone users and bank customers in 12 countries found that for too many bank customers, the choice is between no advice, or what they perceive to be generic advice delivered inconveniently.

As a result, bank customers often try to attain their most important financial goals on their own, via “friends” on social media, or from non-traditional providers of financial services. Moreover, since the financial crisis of 2007-2008, banks’ brand equity has fallen. Read More »

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Social Best Practices for Events and Conferences

Tradeshows and events are practically synonymous with the technology industry – after all our industry produces some of the largest ones in the world. Whether it’s unveiling new products or participating in keynote sessions, today’s conference experience does not begin and end on the show room floor.

Rather, social media is the heartbeat of the event – shaping how attendees, partners, influencers and customers experience the show in real-time.

In my role at Cisco, I’ve seen first hand how the power of social media can drive the tradeshow experience. Whether it’s hosting a tradeshow, such as Cisco Live, or participating in an industry event, here are some social media best practices to consider as you prepare for your next show:

Social in Command

In 2013, we debuted the Cisco Live Social Media Hub – the first-of-its-kind social command center. The Social Media Hub not only monitors and reports on event and industry conversations, but also offers deep insights into how in-person attendees and external audience members engage before, during and after with the show.

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For example, since the Hub is staffed with social media engagement experts, graphic designers, analytics specialists and logistics personnel, we can capture real-time data trends and use the insights to guide the development of engaging content and socially shared graphics.

The results have been nothing short of astounding:

  • On average, the number of impressions generated per day during Cisco Live US 2014 (#CLUS) totaled nearly 59 million.
  • Comparing the use of #CLUS in 2013 vs. 2014: #CLUS was used 35,500 times in 2013 and 47,365 times in 2014; an increase of over 33% year-over-year.
  • Two Cisco executives Trended NATIONALLY on Twitter during their keynote with the high volume of social engagement; all organic – no paid.

Recently, we have begun rolling out localized versions of the Hub to support other Cisco Live events around the world, such as Cisco Live Melbourne (#CLMel) in March. Although smaller in scale, the localized versions pack a serious social punch – bringing participants closer to the action than ever before.

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Stealing the Social Show

It might be easy for Cisco to be front and center in social conversations at our own events, but how can we rise above the noise and make a social impact at some of the largest tech tradeshows around the globe, such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and Mobile World Congress (MWC)?

Our teams have seen stellar results from engaging live-tweets, the development of real-time content creation, such as videos and graphics for social sharing and more.

For example, as a result of our social media efforts at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Cisco received a total of 4,002 conversations, with an estimated 13.8 million impressions! These figures support the fact that strategic and insightful social content can help brands stay top-of-mind in a highly-competitive social environment.

Stay tuned as I share more social media best practices in future posts. In the meantime, be sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts about what makes social media a success at tradeshows and events.

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