Cisco Blogs


Cisco Blog > Retail

The Delivery Experiment: My Week of Living Digitally

One of the hottest topics at NRF this week has been delivery systems. Recent research by Cisco Consulting has found that delivery is one of the top concerns of not only retailers, but of shoppers as well. I now have personal experience of this: Just before the holidays, my husband and I ran an experiment: Living digitally for a few days, shopping online, using only available delivery systems.

Day 1 – Now, I order just about everything online except for groceries. However, my husband orders very little online, although he is a fan of eBay. The first question he asked was, “What about groceries?” I said we would order from Safeway (where I used to work before coming to Cisco). His next question was, “Well, that’s great for our basics, but what about the specialty items we get from Trader Joe’s, how are we going to get those?” He solved this problem himself by finding Envoy, a store-agnostic delivery service.

Amazon, Amazon Fresh, Google Express, Instacart, eBay Now!, Deliv… so many delivery options, though not all available in our area. The first order of business was to buy groceries. However, I needed to sign up for a delivery service – up until then I had purchased everything online except for perishables, and I must say that I was a little embarrassed that I had never ordered from my alma mater, Safeway.  So, I started there and was pleased to see that my Safeway id/password combination worked as well as giving me the option of free delivery, free water, and paper towels if I ordered within 24 hours. I love promotions and rarely pay full price for anything, but even more I love FREE.

Next, I signed up for Envoy to cover our Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods order, but found that I could only order from one at a time for $10/month each, with a service fee of $10 + 10% of my grocery bill. That seemed a little pricey.

That same evening, the washing machine broke, and my husband proceeded to determine how to best to repair it. Here we had a pleasant surprise, as we found that we could order a new part online for $35 (as opposed to or purchasing it locally for $90). So, that was a no-brainer… he placed the Amazon order with a scheduled arrival of mid-next week, labor not included.

Day 2 – I had scheduled our grocery order to be delivered between 11:00am and 3:00pm, and for my flexibility received a $6 discount. At 4:00pm, after a day of continuous meetings from home, I wondered where our order was and asked my husband to contact Safeway. At 5:00pm, I learned that our very first grocery order was stranded on a broken-down truck with no ETA. Finally, at 6:30pm a very apologetic driver contacted me, indicating that he was picking up all of the orders from the broken-down truck and would be arriving in about 30 minutes or so depending on traffic and the pelting rain. Then, I paused on our experiment to go get a pedicure (can’t order this online, yet).

That evening, all the groceries were delivered as ordered, with the exceptions of one item out of stock (one of the Just for You offers) and the condition of the avocados, which were definitely overripe.

Then we discovered we were out of firestarter logs. A quick check on Amazon found what we were looking for, with a promise of a Sunday delivery. Sunday, really?

Day 3 – My email box was becoming overwhelmed: I had received no less than 126 unique retail offers during the last 48-hour period. The most popular promotion was free shipping by online and multichannel retailers, with discounts on shipping from 20% to 50%. With all the noise, it was hard to tell which retailer or service was which.

Now I needed to deal with a few returns on the holiday presents I had been buying online. The easiest included free returns with a shipping label included in the package or printable online, or the ability to return directly to the store. The most difficult required a phone call, followed up by an email with an RMA (return merchandise authorization), and a requirement me to pay for the return. (I won’t be buying from that retailer again.)

Next, I was ready to mail my holiday cards. I thought since the mail is delivered every day to our house, I would be able to order stamps online. Guess how many days it takes to deliver stamps to your home: 7 to 10 days, plus 1 to 2 days extra due to the holiday season. There is certainly a disconnect between departments at the USPS. I hate to send out my holiday cards late!

Day 4 – Fortunately, I had remembered to order all of the items I needed to prepare my appetizer for a party that evening. And, Amazon delivered on its Sunday promise! Our firestarter logs appeared on the doorstep before noon.

Day 5 – Done! We lived for 5 days entirely digitally (except for the pedicure). How did it go? We found that:

  1. Living digitally requires planning ahead; even when new services are intended to provide same day service, they are not widely available
  2. Living digitally needs to be a family affair with extra coordination
  3. Service and delivery fees vary widely
  4. Returns can be challenging and time-consuming
  5. You’re dependent on the selections of the in-store shopper (i.e., the avocados)

Differentiation is still a major challenge. However, I would say that customers want the same thing they want in the store: a friendly, convenient shopping environment. Delivery services need to meet customer expectations on timing, and keep returns simple and convenient. Products ought to be in good condition, and fees need to be minimized. The challenge, obviously, is how to make this work financially.

Other delivery options are increasingly available, such as in-store pickup of online orders, locker-based pickup systems, etc. Keep an eye out for my upcoming paper on delivery systems – Cisco has some exciting ideas coming around this!

In the meantime, check out the new white paper on shopper trends.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Bringing Mobile Analytics and Location Innovations to Retail’s Biggest Show

It’s NRF time again! NRF, the retail industry’s biggest conference, is back in NYC this week. Big data and analytics are still top of mind this year in retail, but the hot topic added to the mix is the use of beacons powered by Bluetooth low energy (BLE), enriching your engagement with customers and helping you make smarter business decisions.

Once again, Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) is here at NRF this year. We’re ready to show you how you can leverage real-time analytics, location innovations (including BLE technology), and our app development platform to optimize operations, boost customer satisfaction, and increase revenue.

If you’re coming to NRF this week, check out our demos at Booth 2052 and learn how Cisco CMX can transform your retail business.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In Retail, Insight Is Currency, and Context Is King

Today’s retailers face a rising tide of change, disruption, and challenges, all driven by technology. As their business landscape is upended, many are struggling to adapt to changing consumer behaviors, competition from disruptive innovators, and exponentially increasing complexity.

The source of much of this disruption is the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the networked connection of people, process, data, and things, and Cisco projects these connections to surge from 13 billion today to 50 billion in the next decade. For retailers, that means a sharp increase in the potential channels, devices, and shopping journeys that are available to consumers. Increasingly, retailers must meet new demands for relevant, efficient, and convenient shopping experiences, whether in-store or out.

IoE_Retail_Figure_Journey_3-2

But for traditional retailers, IoE also presents tremendous opportunities. At the National Retail Federation’s “Big Show” in New York this week, I have seen a great openness to change and innovation. As I see it, traditional retailers are ready to step into the IoE era, but they will need the right ecosystem of partners to guide them through the transformation and help them make the right investments.

To better understand these opportunities and the changing competitive dynamics in retail, Cisco recently undertook a comprehensive, three-pronged study consisting of original research, economic analysis, and interviews with retail industry thought leaders. Released this week, the first wave of primary research findings includes 1240 consumer responses from the United States and the United Kingdom.

A key theme that emerged from the research was that today’s consumers demand new kinds of digital experiences, both in-store and out. In our survey, we presented respondents with 19 concept tests — everything from digital signage and same-day delivery to mobile payments and augmented reality. Above all, we found that shoppers seek a hyper-relevant experience — more so than a hyper-personalized one. In short, efficiency and savings are more important to them than personal engagement.

In our survey, 38 percent of respondents identified greater efficiency in the shopping process (e.g., ensuring items are in stock, speeding checkout times) as the area retailers most need to improve. By contrast, 13 percent sought improvements that would lead to a more personalized shopping experience. Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Coming to NRF: Lisa Fretwell on Shopping Trends, New Frontiers

Cisco will be featured in two Big Idea sessions at this year’s NRF conference starting tomorrow, and I’m happy to introduce guest blogger Lisa Fretwell, who will be leading one of these two seminars. Lisa is the Managing Director of Retail at Cisco Consulting Services, specializing in the Internet of Everything and analytics, and how these new capabilities can transform and differentiate retail and consumer product businesses:

In today’s digital era, stores are clearly challenged in terms of sales and profitable growth. Every retailer is faced with needing to change and innovate their store to deliver results.

Overall, the majority of stores across all categories are demonstrating flat or declining like for like, exacerbated by price deflation. Cisco’s recently concluded annual survey on shopper behavior of 10,000 shoppers highlights the ongoing shift away from the store to online. Twenty percent of consumers now make more than 50% of their purchases online, and this number is expected to continue to grow.

However, when you dig down into the data, you may be surprised by some of the changes. As just one example, we asked shoppers which categories they had significantly moved from store to online. We learned that 41% of the consumers surveyed have somewhat or significantly increased their online purchases of apparel in the last two years – clothing, shoes, and accessories. Traditionally, these products are the life blood of why shoppers go to a store – to touch, feel, try on.

So is it all doom and gloom for shops? No, not if you’re up for innovation and change. There are still significant reasons for shoppers to visit stores. Our research highlights some key insights that retailers must leverage to drive healthy results and make the store experience hyper-relevant.

Our experience from retail engagements suggests the answer lies in two areas: being able to deliver dynamic experiences, and to improve ways of working. From instant response to customer needs to improved process digitization, we are seeing that retailers are increasingly relying on a combination of sensors, analytics, automation, cloud, and edge computing.

If we apply this model to a $20 billion turnover retailer with 900 stores, Cisco estimates that there is $312 million of incremental benefit to be had: $170 million from digitizing ways of working: staffing optimization, store routine digitization, and colleague collaboration; plus $142 million from improved customer conversion through insight, digital offers and loyalty, service, and cross-channel selling. We believe this approach offers the next much-needed step change in store economics.

To learn more, please join us at NRF on Sunday for Cisco’s Big Idea sessions:

  • The first, at 10:15 am in Room 4 of the Expo Hall, covers more on our annual survey results. It is led by Cisco Vice President Joe Bradley (replacing Anabelle Pinto due to a family emergency).
  • Then, at 2:00 pm in Room 4, Cisco’s Shaun Kirby and I will discuss how retailers are taking advantage of the “Internet of Everything: New Horizons in Retail.”

We look forward to seeing you there!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How Trinity Leeds is changing the future of retail with IoE

Shopping centres have been around for thousands of years, supposedly starting in Ancient Rome. The basic concept of a shopping centre has not changed much since then; a large building, or multiple buildings connected, which contain a variety of retail stores, services and restaurants. However, we at Land Securities, a commercial property group based in the UK, are changing the way customers experience shopping with our newest shopping centre, Trinity Leeds, “the mall of the future.” Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , ,