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Shape Shifting Meets Accessorizing – the Latest Mobile Devices & Connections Trends

To say that global device and connections are growing is a true understatement. And this growth is rapidly shifting.

By 2020, there will be 8.5 billion handheld or personal mobile-ready devices and 3.1 billion machine-to-machine (M2M) connections supported by mobile networks. From smartphones and tablets to PCs and “phablets”, mobile digitization and wearables adoption is creating new demands on wireless infrastructures.

On the heels of last week’s 10th annual VNI Mobile Forecast update, take a visual journey into the major role digitization, personal devices and M2M connections have on mobile data traffic growth.

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The Shift from PCs to Smartphones

Each year, new devices in different form factors and with increased capabilities and intelligence are introduced to the global market. For the 2015 VNI Mobile Forecast, phablets were added as a new subcategory within the smartphone segment, which is projected to grow from 38% of all mobile connections in 2015 to 48% of all mobile connections by 2020. Within the same time frame, the overall share of nonsmartphone devices–like PCs–will decline from 50% of all mobile connections in 2015 to 21% by 2020.

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We Hear You: Retail Security Should Be Simple and SAFE

Retailers are in the business to sell, not to be stolen from. And they don’t set up shop to buy security products from companies like Cisco. However, attackers who target retailers have discovered that it’s much more lucrative to shoplift virtually rather than physically. So even if you focus on security rather than selling, you face a daunting task.

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The challenge of retail security is that it gets more complex by the minute. The combination of mobile devices, distributed services, increased customer expectations, virtual systems, and changing business goals creates a huge attack surface for fraudsters. Add in a pantheon of security vendors offering specialized products that don’t always work well together as well as a dwindling supply of qualified security personnel, and feelings of frustration and futility are understandable.

Our industry desperately needs a resource that addresses the problem from end to end and makes security easier to understand. Enter Cisco SAFE, a comprehensive and credible solution portfolio. SAFE uses a model to organize retail networks into areas that can be more easily understood from a security perspective. It looks at the threats that exist and the best practices available to defend against them. It helps manage the design, build, and maintenance of today’s retail networks.

SAFE provides “how to” guides tested in Cisco’s laboratories for complex security challenges. It maps your threats to the security capabilities you need at this time, which can help you avoid overspending and overcomplicating the defenses you need to protect your business.

Come see me at the National Retail Federation show in New York. At a Big Idea session, I’ll be speaking about how Cisco SAFE helps simplify retail security. We’ll be in Room 4, Level 3 of the Expo Hall, on Monday, January 18, at 12:45 p.m.–1:30 p.m. Learn more.

I look forward to meeting you there!

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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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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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The Mobile Workspace For Collaboration

The first thing you may wonder is how can you have a mobile workspace. After all, the point of being mobile is that you can be anywhere and if you’re anywhere, you may noScreenshot_2015-09-01-13-37-31t have a physical workspace. This means your accessories must also be mobile. They should fit in your pockets, or at least a laptop bag. Most people will argue that a laptop is a portable device, not a mobile device. Even if it is equipped with mobile connectivity. Consider what devices you use most when on the road.

The first piece of your mobile workspace is your mobile phone or tablet. The phone is the foundation for the mobile workspace.  I don’t own a tablet. I prefer something that fits in my pocket. When I’m on the go, I use my mobile phone as my primary means of communication. Today I have the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active and I’m happy with it.

There are some key collaboration applications that you need to realize the most value of the mobile workspace.

My collaboration user persona is that of a mobile worker. I spend time in the car. I spend time among the buildings on the Cisco campus.   I also spend time with customers and attending events. Read More »

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