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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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Mobility in the Store – More Dollars, Less Intrusive

We’re rapidly closing in on the NRF trade show being held in New York on Jan. 12-15. Cisco is at the expo on Jan. 13-14, and will be featuring several company speakers at the popular annual Big Idea sessions. I am honored this year to be one of these speakers, and am pleased to be joined by Bob Friday, Cisco’s vice president/CTO for Enterprise Networking -- Mobility. Bob manages strategic wireless initiatives for Enterprise Wi-Fi, and we’ll be discussing the critical business issues of implementing mobile solutions in your store.

So what are the hot topics right now around mobility?

Retailers are going in some interesting directions here. Location awareness of customers is of course hot, hot, hot. Retailers want to learn from shopper behavior how they can best improve opportunities for sales. But, how can we do this without getting into the “creepy factor” of essentially stalking our customers down the aisles?

And, of course, every retailer wants to find shortcuts to ROI and monetization of the mobile platform. Part of this lies around the organization itself: It is common to see companies where IT and lines of business are simply not working together closely enough to get real value out of new technology. For example, I remember one store that was required by management to implement Wi-Fi. This was all well and good, but they didn’t implement any analytics for the new network. The result was that they have a cool technology but no idea of how to use it to engage shoppers, or even to identify how it is benefiting them.

In our session, Bob and I will discuss how you can use your Wi-Fi as a strategic asset – not just as the next awesome thing, but as a critical part of your engagement with shoppers. I’d like to also cover ideas on personalization vs. contextualization: This gets into how we can gather information without being intrusive. And we’ll talk about how to achieve ROI for your wireless investment and turn it into a new revenue driver. Please join us!

Time and Place:

 “Detect, Connect, Engage: Enhance Your Customer Experience with Mobility,” with me and Bob Friday takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 9:15-10:00 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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Omnichannel Is Changing How You Do Business – Sort Of

This is the final installment of a series on how retailers can address the challenges of becoming an omnichannel business. I’d like to wrap up by talking about a deceptively simple stumbling block – accepting that being an omnichannel seller changes how people work.  I spend much of my time talking to retailers, and this really is a big issue.

For example, I have seen stores install – and then turn off – Wi-Fi deployments because they worry that associates will waste time surfing the web. And, yes, some might. But consider the cost compared to customers knowing more than your salesforce because they’ve been doing online research. It makes your team look uninformed, lowers the quality of service, and impacts sales. Obviously, you don’t want workers to play games all day. Instead, train them to find and use online product information, social media, and reviews that will help improve response to customers – and deal appropriately with the exceptions.

Related to this are issues around Wi-Fi access for customers. If you provide it for employees, please just go ahead and extend this to shoppers. Universal store access allows you to optimize your brand with both employees and customers (and enables far more effective analytics). I guarantee that you will lose relevance over time as consumers learn your store is one of the few without mobile service.

As well, I’ve met retailers who won’t add Wi-Fi because they are convinced that the only outcome will be showrooming and ultimate desertion. It’s time to shed the fear of this increasingly common customer practice. Instead, leverage it as a new marketing tool. You can drive sales by being part of the customer’s social media experience, delivering your own identity, branding, and incentives. A recent Accenture study shows that younger consumers still want the in-store experience, but they also expect retailers to integrate personalized shopping across all channels.

Let’s talk more about this at the NRF Big Idea Sessions in New York, where I and Jon Stine, Lisa Fretwell, and Kathryn Howe will be speaking on Jan. 13 and 14.  Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more about these popular seminars, and stop by Cisco Booth #1954 to say hello.

The idea of omnichannel selling can be daunting, and getting the benefit may entail learning to manage a certain amount of risk. But you know – it’s just retail. The environment is becoming more device-driven and the way stores look is changing. But giving consumers what they want; interacting with, understanding, and nurturing them: It’s still the business of retail. And you know how to do that.

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Big Data Could Spawn a Retail Revolution

Success in retail hinges on a deep understanding of consumers. Anticipating their wants and needs — then offering the right product, in the right place, at the right time, and for the right price — has always been paramount.

To truly understand today’s consumer, however, retailers need to address a new dimension that is challenging retailers in unprecedented ways: data. Not just traditional data – Big Data.

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In Between the Numbers: The value of m-commerce: Is it where we think?

September 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm PST

 Thinking today about mobility – cell phones, smartphones, tablets – and where and when it’ll be changing the rules of retail.

 Forrester made a solid case this June that it won’t be as a transaction tool.   They – and eMarketer.com – expect M-commerce to be only 7% of total E-commerce revenue by 2016, which means M-com will total only 1% of retail merchandise purchase market.

 Gartner made the case this May (echoed by Forrester) that it won’t be as an electronic wallet – at least not until 2015 and beyond.  Despite the fact that some 40-50 NFC-enabled smart phones will be shipped this year, the complexities of collaboration between service providers, financial institutions, retailers, and standards bodies is rendering progress slow and tortuous. (To see a preview, rewind to the past decade’s EPC-RFID efforts.)

 And yet: The future of the personal communication and computing is increasingly mobile, and that means retailers are looking at a potential opportunity.

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