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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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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

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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.

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Retail Analytics for an Omnichannel World

Hello, there! My name is Kathryn Howe, and I’m a senior advisor in Cisco’s Retail Industry Practice. I am joining this blog to write regularly on my favorite topic and one of today’s hottest retail trends: Shopper behavior analytics and how they can support omnichannel selling.

Your store is probably among those that are collecting and analyzing masses of data about customers, products, and store operations to earn additional revenue and savings. The challenge of this big data, of course, is that metrics don’t mean much unless the store has access to the right data to meet your specific business needs. But when you do, such metrics become a powerful tool to create efficiencies and support your omnichannel strategies.

Most of the retailers I meet are extremely enthusiastic about the idea of utilizing shopper analytics technologies to generate deeper insights they can use to better manage their businesses – but aren’t too sure of how to do it. However, the truth is that the use cases for analytics in the store are almost infinite. As just a few examples, you can:

Predict resource requirements

Retailers can use analytics tools to measure traffic, wait times, and queue lengths, proactively anticipating resource demands across the store. For example, front-end staffing demand in grocery can be anticipated using a combination of real-time traffic counting, trip time data, and data on staff on hand. Resources are thus dynamically allocated based on real-time information, improving productivity of labor hours and improving customer satisfaction.

Drive traffic to the store

Through presence and location-based mobility analytics, retailers pinpoint the location of opt-in shoppers when they are close to a store location. With personalized reminders or discount offers sent directly to their smartphones, consumers are more motivated to visit the store if they are nearby.

Counteract showrooming

Retailers can leverage customer showrooming by providing real-time discounts and price matching on the shopper’s mobile device based on their location in the store. For example, analytics from mobile or video may detect high wait times in a department or category. In response, the store can alert staff to offer immediate assistance, or send a personalized offer to the shopper’s mobile device. This turns showrooming from a threat into a promotional opportunity, improves the shopper’s opinion of the store, and builds a strong long-term relationship.

I recently authored a white paper that addresses these and many other use cases, which you can find here. For a dynamic conversation on these and other analytics topics, please join us on June 25 for a free hour-long webcast on real-world analytics. It’s being hosted by Cisco and a group of our partners to discuss how to optimize operations and workforce efficiency, increase marketing effectiveness, and strategize for Analytics 3.0. See you there!

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Omnianalytics for an Omnichannel World

At Cisco, we’re about ready for the NRF trade show being held in New York on Jan.  12-15. We’re at the show expo on Jan. 13-14, and will be featuring four company thought leaders in the highly popular annual Big Idea sessions. Kathryn Howe, retail senior advisor at Cisco, will be discussing one of the industry’s most forward-looking trends – how to utilize omnianalytics that help retailers extract the most data out of omnichannel environments.

Q: The concept of omnianalytics is a new one for many retailers. Can you tell us more about it?

A: In pursuit of the personalized customer experience, retailers are increasingly moving toward omnichannel selling across stores, websites, mobile platforms and applications, phones, kiosks, and so on. Each of these channels adds another layer to the customer experience, and each layer generates a new set of data. These data sets offer a new opportunity for stores to engage with the customer.  Omnianalytics is the process of managing and correlating these large amounts of data to transform your business.

Q: Why is this data so important?

A: For the first time in history, retailers can collect truly objective, quantifiable customer data. Traditional shop-alongs, simulations, and focus groups are inevitably somewhat inaccurate, as simply being observed can change shopper behavior. Today’s automated systems, on the other hand, collect completely unbiased information on dwell times, traffic patterns, and other behaviors. They are also extremely scalable, meaning that consistent metrics can be gathered across thousands of stores to provide very high quality data.

Q: What do you think are the most important topics you’ll discuss at NRF?

Knowing which metrics are game changers for your business is the art and science of executing on omnianalytics. We’ll talk about how to get started and how to understand which metrics you need for your business. We’ll also be joined by John Goedert of Starbucks, who provides a wonderful case study on how his company is using omnianalytics to drive consumer interactions.

Time and Place:

“Omnianalytics: Knowledge is Good, Now How Can It Transform My Business?” with Kathryn Howe takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 1:15-2:15 am, in Room 4 on Level 3 of the Expo Hall. For those who can’t be there, a recording of the session will be available after the show. Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more, and do take the time to stop by Cisco booth #1954.

I’ll see you at NRF!

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