In January I was at the National Retail Federation trade show for their 100th annual convention in New York City. While at the show it struck me that the world of retailing has changed a lot in the past century – not that I’ve been around to witness ALL those changes although sometimes it does feel like it
Cigar boxes gave way to mechanical cash registers to today’s sophisticated point of sale systems. Farm and artisan products delivered by wagons morphed to sophisticated supply chains integrating distribution centers, trucks, ships and aircraft. Most people today associate the word “amazon” with an online retailer rather than a river in South America.
As we look forward to the next 100 years of retailing, the industry is facing a huge transition. Consumers are shopping on the web, on the phone, in the stores and leveraging personal technology to do “My Shopping, My Way” -- they’re looking for a truly custom shopping experience. Consumers are interacting with retailers not just through their purchases, but also through social media such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc. in real time. They are expecting their online and offline shopping experiences to look and feel the same. They don’t care about channels – they demand a ubiquitous brand experience.
For retailers, these rising expectations have profound impact on their strategies in a number of areas from marketing, to store operations, to real estate, to employee retention, and physical and data security. In this retail blog, we will be exploring the impact of technology in these areas with Cisco and third party experts in a number of settings including industry events and online discussions as we talk about how retailers can address this market transition.
We hope you will join us going forward and also participate in our other retail social media properties including Cisco retail on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Linked In.
As NRF wrapped up it’ s 100th annual convention in New York City, there was a lot of talk around the topic of how to “save the retail store.” Accelerating use of technology by consumers is shaping their behavior and expectations in store. These changes, in turn, are challenging the sales and margins of retailers.
To determine how retailers can embrace this “technology-shaped shoppers,” the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) surveyed 1,000 shoppers from the United States and United Kingdom. It found that consumers want a new way to shop. This new shopping experience is called “mashops.” It combines web-like experiences with the shopping experience in stores, creating a “Mash up” of the physical and virtual worlds.
In addition, the research also revealed that retailers should pay attention to two key customer segments: calculating shoppers (56 percent of the general population) and extreme shoppers (11 percent of the general population, with a high representation from Generation Y). And while extreme shoppers receive the most attention, calculating shoppers have the greatest impact on retailers’ revenues and margins.
Cisco’s Retail Industry Marketing team recently worked with fashion designer Simon Spurr during the September 2010 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City to demonstrate how business video technologies can impact the fashion business.
Simon, who was just announced as creative consultant for Tommy Hilfiger menswear , worked with Cisco Business Video technologies such as TelePresence, Flip Prosumer, Show and Share, MXE, Digital Signs and WebEx to streamline the processes of working with his suppliers, retailers and customers.
Cisco technologies were also showcased during Fashion Week in the Spurr pop-up store and New York’s landmark retailer Saks 5th Ave..
The following is a video showcasing how Cisco and Simon worked together to showcase the future of fashion.
8 Days ’till Small Business Saturday and 36 Shopping days ’til Christmas
It’s that time of year. Right now this blog post is the only thing between Thanksgiving vacation and me. I can almost smell the pumpkin pie. I love the rituals of the holidays; parades, football games I don’t watch, cooking for my family, and I’ll admit it, shopping.
I’m particularly excited going into this holiday season. I have a very silly Christmas purse exclusively for gift shopping (which my husband makes fun of). I’m going to a party with an “Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest.” I’ve already watched the Grinch Stole Christmas once this year, and I’m sure I’ll do it again.
According to the news recently, for the first time in a few years retailers can also look forward to the holidays. The National Retail Federation is expecting holiday sales to reach $447 Billion! And this year American Express is hosting Small Business Saturday, offering shoppers a $25 credit on their bill if they patronize a small business on November 27. They have over 430,000 fans on Facebook! It’s looking like a bright holiday season!
So if you are in retail, or any other business that may benefit from Christmas shoppers (perhaps a wine bar in the mall, coffee shop, restaurants) Now is not the time to have your network go down. Charles Nault, author of “Risk Free Technology” says that companies on average lose 3.6% of gross revenue due to network downtime. That’s on average. What happens if you lose your ability to sell on one of the busiest days of the year?
I’m very excited about Black Friday AND Small Business Saturday. I’ll be trying to burn a hole in my credit card in search of the perfect gifts for my friends and family. I’m going to stay away from the malls as much as I can because I like the small businesses I know. I also feel more in the holiday spirit when I’m shopping at a cozy boutique vs a “big box” store . But, like everyone else during the holiday season, I’m going to be in a rush and if I can’t get what I need right away, I’ll look for it somewhere else.
Call your local IT reseller (Cisco partner) right away for a network assessment. It’s like having your regulator serviced before a diving trip; it makes sense to check up on the equipment your life, or business, depends on before you stress it. 102 feet below the surface of the ocean is no place to discover that you had a faulty gasket anymore than the holiday shopping season is the time to find our your network isn’t up to the demand you are putting on it.
Whatever holiday you celebrate this season, I wish you peace, the company of those you love and a stress free season of happiness.
We continue to see accelerating traction for our Cisco UCS and with this increasing customer adoption, we see some pretty compelling business results from our customers. Today, we have an IPTV broadcast with one of those customers: Slumberland. [UPDATE: Here is the archive for the broadcast]
For those of you unfamiliar with the company, they are one of the top 25 furniture retailers in the US with 118 stores in 11 midwestern states. They are facing a set of IT and business challenges that should be familiar to anyone in the retail industry including maintaining low costs in a highly competitive environment, scalability and security and compliance requirements. As with many of our customers they also had to work with a lean IT staff and a basically flat IT budget.
Slumberland’s IT environment is also fairly typical for an enterprise customer: Microsoft Hyper-V R2, SQL Server, and Exchange 2007 IBM DB2, Oracle 10g and 11g, and Cisco collaboration.
With their current data center infrastructure hitting end of life, the IT team went on a quest for a new platform and landed on the UCS. They picked UCS for three primary reasons:
Best open platform for virtualization because of high RAM capacity, low latency and high I/O bandwidth
Compatibility with their existing environment, including Compellent SAN, Cisco MDS, Windows and Linux
The results they achieved are pretty hard to argue with:
$368K less than than other solutions they considered
Reduced per-server management costs from $1,575 to $80
4X more virtual desktop sessions per server along with improved user experience (faster login and better session performance)
Simplified troubleshooting with UCS Manager’s ability to provide a single point of control.
As is often the case, the Cisco solution was about more than just cool technology, both Cisco Services and our partner Qwest played central roles in pulling this all together fro Slumberland.
A couple of weeks ago, when I introduced Data Center Business Advantage, I talked about our goal being more than just delivering cool technology to the market--it was about linking that technology to meaningful and tangible business outcomes and what Slumberland was able to do is a prime example. For example, the operational costs savings means that their IT team can maintain a flat budget but still free budget to continue to invest and innovate with their data center. Alternatively, IT could return some or all the cost savings back to the company to help it a) reduce overall operating expenses and maintain or increase its low-cost competitive advantage and/or b) increase overall profitability. Similarly, the simplified operations allows the IT staff to get out of constant fire-fighting mode (which is good for their long-term well-being) and allows them the cycles to be strategic and be a better partner to the rest of the business.
Anyway, check out the broadcast, its a pretty cool story.