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It’s Time for Dinner: Improving the Quality of Our Food with the Internet of Everything

It’s almost the holiday season and it’s time for your customers to host that special dinner party, where they can make memories and share stories with loved ones. What if they could also share the story of where that holiday meal came from?

This is now possible using the power of the Internet of Everything (IoE). The ability to monitor and assure food quality, safety, and provenance is probably one of the fastest-emerging applications of IoE – and the fastest-growing differentiator for grocers. With IoE, even the minute details of products can be tracked from source to shelf.  Providing access to data across the entire agricultural food chain is sometimes now referred to as the “Internet of Food.”

Your party host can share with guests where the wheat was raised to produce the pasta, describe exactly where and how the olive oil was pressed, serve a salad that was bought at guaranteed optimal ripeness, and enjoy a glass of wine from the region of France visited by the host on his last trip to Europe.

Today, your customers are closer than ever to getting this extreme level of detail:

The pasta brand Barilla is already making this a reality. They have placed QR codes on select boxes of pasta and sauces. This code connects customers to a website that tells the story of the farms where the wheat was grown, the co-ops and factories where it was processed, and how much water and carbon dioxide were involved in production. To learn more about how Barilla did it, please read the press release.

Sensors also give retailers the ability to identify and monitor the freshest, healthiest produce. This is done using sensors that monitor the temperature and humidity of your products. You can measure concentrations of gases and even use a pocket-sized spectrum analyzer like the SCiO to determine chemical composition. Based on levels of ripeness, retailers can even develop dynamic pricing and promotional campaigns to react to changes in demand or ripening speed.

Through the Internet of Everything (IoE), retailers can break through information silos across supply chains and give customers transparency into the journey of their food, from field to fork. To see how other retailers are embracing digital transformation, see our customer stories.

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Moving Beyond Connecting People to Delivering Engaging Interactive Experiences

As organizations move toward digital transformation, they are embracing the benefits of delivering timely, personalized information to customers, citizens, and patients. Connecting people with information and services when, where, and how they want, is a pivotal point in the way organizations process, apply data and deliver that information.

Given my busy schedule, I appreciate a shopping experience that is hassle-free and fast. I also want the information I need about a product or service to be easy to find.  And for that matter, I expect that a retailer knows what I am looking for and provides relevant promotions and discounts. These rising expectations have been born out of leading digital retailers and now that the bar has been set – anything that falls short feels like a disappointment.

Customer Experience

Today’s shoppers are looking for efficiency,  ease in problem-solving, and faster time to purchase. They want to take advantage of savings through discounts and promotional offers and they want to be engaged when learning about new items, entertainment, and product options.  To address these growing expectations, Cisco and Panasonic are partnering to transform the shopping experience through their Powershelf solution. The solution enables brick and mortar retailers to automate inventory tracking and pricing data, helping them optimize their supply chain and better manage demand.  In addition, real-time product information can be delivered to a customer’s mobile device.

Citizen Experience

The future involves much more than improving customer engagement. Cities are challenged with delivering enhanced citizen services and information on a limited budget.  In the face of inclement weather and emergencies, it is critical that cities link dispatch, first responders and the community with timely, accurate information. For example, the City of Mississauga is leveraging sensors and wireless connectivity to make these connections, analyze trends and share information between citizen services, public communications, and operations.

As more and more citizens prefer to receive information and updates via their mobile devices, this integrated public service system will allow cities to put a request into action quickly and efficiently and provide real-time updates.  Now, the City of Mississauga can deploy operations teams and emergency services faster, enable new services without recognizing an increase in IT budget and improve public safety with immediate, actionable information.

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Create an All-channel Retail Shopping Experience

I always feel the rush of excitement when it comes to shopping. Whether it’s that something special to enhance my home’s interior. Or my annual vacation package. Or a pair of custom designer shoes that will add a perfect dash of sophistication to my business suit. Yes it’s true. Nothing to beat bespoke products and services tailored to suit my lifestyle. I get to craft my vacation itinerary. I can design my own shoes online with personal designs, pictures, or logos. How cool is that?

The good thing is I don’t need to rush to the store to search or understand more about what I am looking for. This is the new reality. And I am fast adapting to it. I no longer see a distinction between searching online and hanging out in a mall. The incredible choice and power I have now helps me make the right decisions about my purchases.  I find what I need at the best price, whether through a virtual storefront or in a physical shop. Instant gratification!

The Changing Face of Retail
I know I am not alone. Millions of people enjoy the convenience, breadth of choice, and enticing mix of deals through a variety of channels.

According to eMarketer, retail products and services purchased on the internet will rise to 8.8% of the total retail market globally by 2018, up from 5.9% in 2014. Read More »

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Join the Conversation: Where Shopping Experience Meets the New Digital Consumer

The demands of increasingly mobile and digital consumers are creating unprecedented complexity for retailers and brands.  How should retailers respond?  We’re going to tackle this question together on Twitter next Tuesday, October 27 at 1pm EST/ 10am PST.

Together, we’ll discuss questions such as:

  • Who is the new “digital consumer”?
  • What does the future of retail look like through the lens of digital technologies?
  • What have you learned about the behaviors and expectations of the digital shopper?
  • What is the role of security in retail?
  • Why “trust” is key in winning wallet share of the digital shopper?

It’s always been my experience that the best ideas emerge from a combination of people with different viewpoints, areas of expertise, and experiences.  That’s one reason I’m (@anabellepinto) looking forward to being part of the next #CiscoChat with my colleague, Ron Kjelden (@rkjelden), focused on how retailers can create shopping experiences that meet the demands of the new digital consumer. Read More »

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The Next Step in Your Store Analytics Strategy: Sensor Fusion

Retail has entered an era of unprecedented competition and accelerated evolution worldwide. Retailers in every category, both brick-and-mortar and online, face larger and more unpredictable threats than ever before, from digitization of goods and distributed manufacturing to autonomous, near-instant delivery, service robots, and online experiences with unprecedented realism, as disruptors such as virtual reality, 3D printing, drones and wearables take root.

While e-commerce growth is outstripping physical store expansion, the in-store experience is still a powerful part of the shopping experience. The Internet of Everything (IoE) offers new opportunities to make physical store shopping a better experience for the consumer and more lucrative for the retailer. By lighting up “dark assets,” retailers gains unprecedented insights into shopper behavior and operations, and can impact every piece of the value chain from merchandising and sales to workforce optimization, shopper experience and service.

Retailers light up dark assets by instrumenting physical stores with sensors and actuators such as Wi-Fi access points and shopping cart tags, beacons, video cameras, and even mechanical devices such as weight sensing shelves or humidity sensors. While these sensors themselves provide valuable new insights, often the greatest advantages are derived from combining multiple types of sensors and data through “sensor fusion.”

As just one example, pairing Wi-Fi location data showing a shopping path with point-of-sale data can highlight opportunities to improve conversion, where shoppers linger but don’t purchase. Likewise, combining video analytics of traffic entering the store with shelf sensing of the rate at which refrigerated goods are being picked up provides a more accurate forecast of staffing needs.

The business value of sensor fusion can be staggering – our studies show that a 1,500 store big box chain could save up to $100 million per year in cashier cost, at the same time as reducing checkout wait times by up to half – in fact, we predict that IoE could ultimately end up eliminating the checkout line. IoE also helps with the stubborn problem of on-shelf availability, where the largest retailers can lose more than $1 billion annually.

But that’s not all – sensor fusion is already being used to evaluate campaign effectiveness, optimize merchandising, and help suppliers and partners become the captains in their categories, as well as to reduce shrink and improve shopper and employee safety.

Please join us to learn more on Sept. 25 during my 45-minute webcast being held at 12:00 noon ET/9:00 am PT. It’s called “Why You Need Sensor Fusion in Your 2016 Retail Analytics Strategy,” and it’s jointly sponsored by Cisco and our partner RetailPoint, which offers POS solutions. I’ll speak for just half an hour about IoE in action in retail and the technologies enabling it, from video (the “supersensor”) to wearables to precision location and the single pane of glass for retail – the ultimate view of your business. Then we’ll spend 15-20 minutes in open discussion on how sensor fusion can help your store take the next step. Please register today!

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