Digital innovations have upended many assumptions about the art of buying and selling. But the brick-and-mortar retail store is far from extinct. And while digital technologies continue to disrupt traditional business models, they also present retailers with exciting opportunities to make their stores more immersive, interactive, and, well, digital.
Recently, I had the privilege of discussing the future of the retail store with Doug Stephens, one of the world’s foremost retail industry experts and author of the book, The Retail Revival: Reimagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism. Listen to the full interview here.
As Doug describes it, “media is becoming the store and the store in essence is becoming media.” In short, he argues that the store itself has to embrace many of the capabilities and services that have made online retailers so successful, while retaining and enhancing some of the advantages of the physical retail experience. The store should become a “high-octane experience,” as Doug puts it.
I wholeheartedly agree. In the Internet of Everything (IoE) era, an explosion of new connections is driving new sources of value. And the physical retail store can capture these new sources of value — just as their online counterparts have.
The key lies in blending the two experiences in a seamless manner.
As in-store consumers, we expect to interact with a product viscerally in a physical retail setting; online we enjoy access to rich product content. Combining the two will go far to engage and convert consumers while cementing brand loyalty.
Here are a few of the ways in which retailers are creating new digital in-store experiences:
- Data analytics present a precise picture of an individual shopper, their online research and shopping history, and their real-time, in-store browsing, as tracked through their smart device and/or in-store video.
- Wi-Fi and mobile technologies enable new connections during each step of the shopping journey, offering real-time prompts, expert advice, and incentives to “seal the deal.”
- RFID tags and other sensors — combined with data analytics — provide precise tracking of products and inventory and enable such in-store experiences as “magic mirrors” and digital signage. These utilize detailed information on individual shopper behavior and buying history to transform the real-time experience.
Doug and I agree that, moving forward, it will be essential for retailers to gain the trust of consumers. If they are to be tracked in-store and engaged in real time, customers will need to feel confident that retailers are fully transparent throughout the shopping journey.
Surveys show that consumers have their doubts about sharing data. But when trust is established and clear benefits and value are established, they are willing to op-in. In effect, the nature of the exchange has to be clear, and education is crucial. Then, the full power of merging digital technology with the brick-and-mortar world will be evident.
The end result, I believe, is a win-win for retailers and customers alike.
But the key for retailers is to lead not follow. Waiting to see what other retailers are doing is not an option. Through data and analytics, they can get to know their customers better than ever. And by knowing their wants and desires, create a digital in-store experience that is more exciting than ever before.
For more on innovation in retailing check out our new BizWise video to learn how one mall owner has transformed relationships with shoppers using an omni-channel approach.
Tags: Cisco, Cisco Consulting Services, Internet of Everything, IoE, retail, sensors, tracking devices
I’ve been in this industry for more than three decades, and so I’ve experienced every data center technology breakthrough and market transformation in that time. We drove a market disruption ourselves with the introduction of Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) in 2009, and after just five years, we have more than 33,000 customer-proven results.
Now, we’re doing it again, but this time it’s different.
We are in the midst of the next major inflection point, driven by a new wave of applications. With the swipe of a finger, users can download an endless array of useful apps to their smart phones, tablets, and even wearable gadgets. We bring our personal devices with us to work, expecting the IT department to deliver the same access and ease of use on the business side.
This consumerization of IT puts end users in the driver’s seat. Scrambling to meet growing consumer and employee expectations, organizations in both the public and private sectors have demands of their own when it comes to next-generation data center capabilities and improved outcomes. Applications need holistic compute solutions, not just plain old servers. The explosive growth of mobility, social media, collaboration, the Internet of Everything (IoE), and big data means their applications need to scale up and out.
Now applications must be serviced by compute solutions that can integrate performance needs, handle large data sets, and scale as needed while reducing operational complexity and OpEx budgets. The requirements of these complex business applications are defining the infrastructure—not the other way around—because now more than ever, application performance translates into business results. This requires fresh innovation in designing an integrated infrastructure that is highly responsive to business and IT needs, while keeping data center budgets from spinning out of control.
At Cisco Live, I’ll show you how we’re driving a market disruption once again, this time with our breakthroughs in compute solutions that we didn’t think were possible just a few years ago. Technology leaders agree that Cisco UCS and Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) deliver solutions that put IT managers back in the driver’s seat, able to meet user demands, where applications are no longer constrained by the data center infrastructure.
I look forward to seeing you in San Francisco.
Tags: ACI, application centric infrastructure, Big Data, Cisco, Cisco UCS, IoE, mobility, UCS
Are you confident you can change the world with your innovations connecting the unconnected?
Are you developing “things” that will be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT)?
Do you want a $125,000 US cash award to jump start your business?
If yes, Cisco Internet of Things (IoT) Innovation Grand Challenge is for you!
Since the “open for submissions” announcement of the Internet of Things Innovation Grand Challenge on April 21st, hundreds of innovators have visited the website and joined the community. More than fifty (50) entries have been submitted from around the world. If you have not checked out the Cisco Internet of Things (IoT) Innovation Grand Challenge, do it now! Read More »
Tags: Grand Challenge, innovation, internet of things, IoE, IoT
In a recent article for Manufacturing Digital, “Cisco highlights Internet of Everything potential in 2014,” the manufacturing industry has been touted as a one of the top sectors benefitting from the Internet of Everything (IoE) and Internet of Things (IoT) trends. Along these lines, I recently discussed the transformative power of IoT in manufacturing in a blog on this Cisco IoE blog, Making Smarter Manufacturing and IoT a Reality Today. It’s becoming apparent to me that the propensity of leading analyst and press coverage around these topics is evolving beyond far-off visioning or thought-provoking industry trend discussions into the practical exchange of ideas and experiences around real-life scenarios and applications for the production environment, supply chain, voice of customer (VoC) and all the critical business interests of a typical manufacturer. Manufacturing is leading a charge to create the next generation of real-time, connected and smart factories, integrated supply chains, in-context collaboration and work flows for global design teams and more, and IoE is a critical building block for the transformation of these business processes to excite greater revenues and profitability. Read More »
Tags: Cisco Manufacturing, IoE, IoT, VoC, voice of customer
In a constantly changing world, getting the right talent focused on the most pressing challenges is essential — not just for companies, but for service providers, cities, and countries.
Today, the key driver of that rapid change is technology, particularly the explosion in connectivity known as the Internet of Everything (IoE). Cisco predicts that IoE will have connected 50 billion “things” by 2020, compared to 10 billion today. But for all the talk of things, IoE is not just about embedding sensors in shoes, jet engines, refrigerators, and shopping carts. The true opportunity arises when people, process, data, and things are connected in startling new ways.
In such an environment, collaboration is critical. Indeed, IoE-related innovations have the potential to improve and transform our world in profound ways. But no one company can solve these challenges. They will require partnerships and the open sharing of ideas and talent.
Technology companies, in particular, will need to change the ways in which they utilize their talent. For many decades, there was one way to access talent — by hiring it. Today, workforces are flexible and may be spread across time zones and continents. Knowledge workers still contribute as employees on company payrolls, of course. But increasingly, they are just as likely to collaborate on a specific project as partners or as subject-matter experts sharing knowledge within cross-functional or cross-industry groups.
That is why I feel so strongly about a recent out-of-court settlement in Silicon Valley regarding the free flow of talent from one organization to another. Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe agreed to pay more than $300 million to 64,000 engineers who claimed that the companies’ hiring policies were hindering their career paths and access to higher salaries.
Read More »
Tags: Big Data, Cisco, Cisco Consulting Services, employee productivity, innovation, Internet of Everything, internet of things, IoE, IoE Value Index, IoT, job creation, talent, value at stake