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In Between the Numbers: Some Truths About “Showrooming”

May 7, 2012 at 9:06 am PST

 There’s a lot of buzz in industry circles these days about the impact of “showrooming” on brick-and-mortar brands. Witness the excellent overview by Ann Zimmerman in the April 11 US edition of the Wall Street Journal, “Can Retailers Halt ‘Showrooming?’”

 Ms. Zimmerman notes the anti-showrooming efforts of such retailers as Target and Walmart, and the challenge of meeting-and-beating pure play pricing and assortment breadth.

 And, she also gets to the core of the issue: It’s not about competition between stores and pure play websites. It’s about competition between the websites of brick-and-mortar brands, and the websites of the pure plays.

 We live in the era of Google, an era of web-based search, an era where just about any detail of just about anything can be found on the Internet. Studies of recent shopper behavior show a steady climb in the number of US shoppers who begin their purchase journey with online research. Nearly two-thirds of US adults do so regularly.

 The Internet is the front door to all retail brands these days – not just the pure plays. It’s where shoppers are initially won or lost – and where store traffic is increasingly generated.

 This means two things to brick-and-mortar brands:

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In Between the Numbers: Cutting Through the Cloud

April 30, 2012 at 10:41 am PST

 My colleague Bharat Popat and I just published a perspective on Cloud computing for retail that we think will help retail technologists cut through the cloud around Cloud.

 Our hypothesis is that Cloud basically consists of custom combinations of four IT best practices:

  • Virtualization.
  • Network-centric enterprise and store ICT architectures.
  • The acquisition of services – ranging from enterprise applications to infrastructure to complete business processes.
  • The pursuit (and use) of new financial models.

 All of which are in rapid adoption throughout developed world retailing (and enterprises in general.)

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In Between the Numbers: The Omni-Channel Paradox: Will Less Store Staff Mean Less Online Revenue?

October 26, 2011 at 9:22 am PST

Was reading the National Retail Federation’s forecast for Holiday 2011.

One topic caught my eye: the expected level of seasonal store-level employment.

The NRF expects that the industry will hire between 480,000 and 500,000 seasonal workers this year, roughly equal to last year’s 495,000.

We can expect a majority of those individuals to be in the stores – hired at the store, for the store.

A big question for retailers in this omnichannel world: What’s guiding the hiring?  Comp-store forecasts or the needs of the omnichannel shopper? If it’s store-level revenue, there’s a good chance of a critical mismatch between the needs of the brand and the level of onsite support.

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In Between the Numbers: Markdown Money: the Key to Technology Adoption?

October 11, 2011 at 11:02 pm PST

I have been asking myself why this personal technology revolution is so hard for retailers.There are a number of pretty obvious answers on the surface.

The pace of innovation, for one. Given that the standard in-store technology refresh cycle is often measured in decades, it’s more than a bit frightening to think that today’s all-store devices might be old school in six months.

The fact that it’s about more than devices and apps, for another. Smart retailers know that the operational implication of the revolution is a single-brand, multi-touchpoint, flexible fulfillment future. Which will be millions and years in the making.

Which is enough to give any CIO – let alone CEO – pause.

I wonder, though, if there’s not another big reason. One that’s buried deep inside the financial fabric of retail. 

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