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5 Retail Trends Driving Wi-Fi: Part 2

Earlier this week, we kicked off  special customer guest blog series with Andrew vonNagy, author of the blog Revolution Wi-Fi, and active on Twitter @revolutionwifi. Join us today as Andrew explores the next two major retail trends changing the Wi-Fi industry, and catch up with the first part if you missed it.

Trend 2: Empowering Sales Associates
Given the increasingly connected and smart shopper, consumers now have more product information than in-store sales associates in many cases. Yet sales staff are key to providing a great consumer experience in-store. Retailers need to empower sales associates with the depth of product information that consumers have, and to provide additional tools that facilitate existing and new services offered by the retailer.

Historically, only a fraction of retail sales associates have been provided with mobile devices, and those devices have enabled only a limited set of capabilities such as stocking, inventory management and product availability. One reason for this is the high cost of ruggedized mobile devices for use in retail. A typical high-speed scanner PDA can cost well over $1,200 each. In order to provide every sales associate with more information to help consumers, retailers are adopting lower-cost, feature-rich, smart mobile devices that provide more robust capabilities than specialized scanners. Mobile platforms built by Apple, Android, and third-party manufacturers are enabling this shift, along with a retail IT focus on enabling business processes in a more flexible, consistent, and re-usable fashion.

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Customer Perspective: 5 Retail Trends Driving Wi-Fi

This is the type of post that gets me excited. Today, I’m happy to feature a special customer guest author: Andrew vonNagy, CCIE #28298 (Wireless), and currently Technical Architect for a Fortune 50 retail company. Many of you may know Andrew from his active blog, Revolution Wi-Fi,  or his Twitter feed: @revolutionwifi. Stay with us over the next two weeks as Andrew offers his take on the intersection of Retail and the Wireless LAN industry.

Retail Wi-Fi networks have long been dominated by inventory management applications and services that enabled a more productive workforce and leaner operations. However, brick-and-mortar retail is being disrupted due to the explosive growth from pure e-commerce competitors offering [often] lower prices and a more personalized shopping experience. In addition, the e-commerce sales channel offers deeper product information, community reviews, and greater levels of localization and customization that resonate with consumers.

Brick and mortar retail must adapt to compete in this new environment. A key component of this adaptation is delivering new IT solutions while leveraging the physical assets of the storefront, mixing the benefits of in-store product “touch-and-feel” with the personalization of e-commerce shopping. Merging these two worlds together will create an enhanced shopping experience through the use of mobile Internet devices, often connected through Wi-Fi networks.

This week, we will cover the first of 5 trends driving Wi-Fi growth and new capabilities in retail organizations:

Trend 1: Consumer Interaction and Business Analytics

Physical retailers have the most influence over consumer purchase decisions in the store, when they are standing in front of the product they are weighing whether or not to buy. Historically, this has been through in-aisle marketing and signage. However, customers are increasingly equipped with mobile Internet access and turning to external sources of information in real-time while within a retail store. This has been coined the emergence of the “smart shopper”. These external sources of information are much more comprehensive than what the retailer can provide through traditional in-aisle marketing and signage, and this leaves the physical retailer at a big disadvantage.

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What Retailers can learn from The Piano Guys on YouTube

One of the many challenges retailers face today is how to differentiate from the competition in areas that would be considered generic or less attractive to new generation of shoppers. 

Take the example of classical piano and instrumental music.  In the age of MMORPG, Reality Television and MTV, how does a piano store in the small town of St. George, Utah and a bunch of musicians gain relevance and end up on CBS News.com and videos on YouTube with 23 million views?

Cello Wars (Star Wars Parody) Lightsaber Duel -- Steven Sharp Nelson

Pirates of the Caribbean -- Incredible Piano Solo of Jarrod Radnich Filmed by ThePianoGuys

What can retailers learn from The Piano Guys?

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday – Early Results Show Promise but it is a Omnichannel Marathon

Thanksgiving holiday came and went with Black Friday breaking records from last year. 

The highlights of the numbers that have been quoted in the press today are:

  • Sales increased 6.6% over the same day last year, representing $11.4 billion in retail purchases and biggest amount ever spent during the day. 
  • Retail foot-traffic increased by 5.1% over 2010  Source:  Shoppertrak

Looking beyond the headline numbers, here are  some other interesting data points:

  • Black Friday has been stretched with pre-promotions and longer shopping hours.  Retail sales were up over 3.5% the week of November 12th and 18th
  • Data from ShopperTrak indicated that consumers are visiting fewer stores per trip (being more efficient due to time crunch) with average of 3.1 stores down from 3.19 last year.  Shoppers are also doing more research on purchases before the trip.

Another report from ComScore shows  that Black Friday extended online before  Cyber Monday.

bfads.net web page
Bfads.net, number one most visited web site on Black Friday promotions
Source: ComScore

  • $12.7 billion has been spent so far online to date this holiday season with $816 million in Online sales on Black Friday
  • Thanksgiving Day online sales increased 18% to $479 million (perhaps after dinner  shopping instead of watching Thanskgiving football?)
  • Top five online retail properties (excluding auction sites) are Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple with Amazon having 50% more visitors than any other retailer

What does this mean for retailers?  Here are some thoughts:

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday – Happy Thanksgiving to all Retailers and Shoppers

This Friday starting at midnight marks the official start of the holiday shopping season for American consumers.  After the traditional thanksgiving feast (Many Retail Stores are opening at midnight with specials) up to 152 Million Shoppers are expected to visit stores and websites this Black Friday Weekend, according to NRF Survey published in November. 

As we approach this long weekend holiday, I thought I’d share a few articles that would make good reading while the turnkey is in the oven.

  • Laura Heller wrote an article on Forbes Blog “The Point of Purchase”  analyzing Walmart’s Black Friday Advertising  as a reflection of trends for the retailers strategy this year. 
  • The publishing of the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book is always noteworth and this year is no exception.  Neiman Marcus generates a huge amount of press coverage and brand exposure for the holiday catalog.

I’d like to wish all the retail staff in the stores and  web operations that I know will be working hard this weekend a Happy Thanksgiving.

See you all in January at the National Retail Federation Conference and Expo in New York City!

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