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Naughty or Nice: Cisco Wireless Rewards Release 7.6 Innovations to All

Deloitte’s 2013 Annual Holiday survey came out with some staggering statistics:

  • Nearly 7 in 10 shoppers will use their smartphones and tablets to shop this holiday season.
  • Nearly half of all shoppers will use social media to assist in shopping.
  • 73% of shoppers will be influenced by coupons and promotional offers.

Retailers both online and in-store can no longer ignore the power of mobile technology and social media influence with shoppers. Shoppers using mobile devices inside stores are actually more likely to make a purchase when being presented with the right information. In fact, this isn’t only true for retailers, but across all industries. Whether it’s guests, visitors, patients or passengers, there’s a real opportunity for businesses to make an impression via the mobile device.

Today I am happy to announce our latest Cisco Wireless Software Release 7.6. As you may recall from Sujai Hajela’s State of Cisco WLAN blog earlier this week, Cisco’s Wireless group has been ahead of the competition with our dedication to delivering cutting edge, high performing technology to our customers.

Many features in Release 7.6 were designed specifically to enable our customers to take advantage of the latest mobile trends. Here are some of the highlights:

Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX)

CMX for Facebook Wi-Fi is a joint Cisco — Facebook solution for guest Wi-Fi. Read More »

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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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Pick the Low-Hanging Omnichannel Fruit

This blog is the third of a series on how retailers are addressing the challenges of becoming an omnichannel business. We’ve talked about how omnichannel selling is not really about rushing to invest in some whiz-bang technology – in fact, I think stores often try to do too much at one time.

Instead, a smart approach to your implementation is to find the low-hanging fruit – projects that have the highest probability of effectiveness and can be measured against business targets as a whole. Remember that every store has its niche, and one size does not fit all. By achieving rapid successes up front, you gain funding for the next piece of your strategy, building from success to success to achieve omnichannel entry.

For example, some retailers look at how to make it easier for shoppers to buy and return where they want. Stores don’t carry the same selections from region to region, and they need processes and systems to make such an approach successful. The key is inventory management: figuring out how to sell, reorder, and exchange products in stores that also serve as fulfillment centers.

Other retailers focus on building a strong relationship with shoppers through excellent customer service. For example, instead of picking up the red bat phone or having “Customer assistance on Aisle 3” called over the loudspeaker, consumers can contact remote experts on their own mobile device or through a kiosk. Still other stores may put resources into user interfaces, branding, and site useability. These personalized approaches also pay off in better information about the customer, allowing retailers to use video analytics and sensors to get help to the shopper faster.

To help stores define their best path forward, they often make use of “innovation platforms,” systems designed to allow you to quickly set up and try out new merchandising, practices, or seasonal locations.  Innovation platforms let you experiment with capabilities that leverage organizational strengths, hitting on the cylinders you want to address. Each success helps build the business justification for the next stage, supported by your cost/benefit analyses, baselines, and measurements.

Let’s talk more about this at the NRF Big Idea Sessions, where I’ll be speaking on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2:00-3:00 ET, in Room 4. My topic is “Detect, Connect, Engage: Enhance your Customer Experience with Mobility,” and I’ll discuss how to personalize the mobility journey and new strategies for delivering a meaningful customer experience. Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more about these very popular seminars. As well, please take time to attend some of the demos in Cisco booth #1954. These include several technologies that fulfill the requirements discussed above.

I’ll see you at NRF!

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A Room with a View (of Crucial Big Data Insights)

What’s the problem with Big Data? You guessed right — it’s BIG.

Big Data empowers organizations to discern patterns that were once invisible, leading to breakthrough ideas and transformed business performance. But there is simply so much of it, and from such myriad sources — customers, competitors, mobile, social, web, transactional, operational, internal, external, structured, and unstructured — that, for many organizations, Big Data is overwhelming. The torrents of data will only increase as the Internet of Everything spreads its ever-expanding wave of connectivity, from 10 billion connected things today to 50 billion in 2020.

So, how can organizations learn to use all of that data?

The key lies not in simply having access to enormous data streams. Information must be filtered for crucial, actionable insights, and presented to the right people in a visualized, comprehensible form. Only then will Big Data transform business strategies and decisions. In effect, Big Data must be made small.

However, as McKinsey & Co. reported, many organizations don’t have enough data scientists, much less ones who understand the business well enough to draw conclusions. The trick is to get the scientists together with the experts who understand the business levers driving the organization. Put them in a room with the right tools, and watch the synergy fly.

But what sort of a room?

big_data_room_10_new

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The Internet of Everything Connects Customers to Shipping Logistics, One Package at a Time

The most wonderful time of year is upon us. With the holidays just around the corner, many will be crossing off wish lists by shopping via their laptop, tablet or smartphone. Last year I was one of those that waited until the last minute to shop for the holidays and by the time I arrived at the mall, there was virtually nothing left to buy for my nieces!  I had to fight for a parking spot and was exhausted after the first half hour!

A recent prediction from e-Marketer states that online and mobile spending will increase about 15.1% year over year this November and December, showing just how quickly the Internet of Everything is enabling more e-commerce spending than ever before.

Kathy EnglishWith this increase in anytime, anywhere online shopping, how are delivery companies meeting this influx in demand? How are they ensuring on-time deliveries? How are they lowering operating costs and expanding reach? Over the next few months – and coincidentally during the busiest shopping time of the year -- I’ll be discussing how advances in cloud and mobility are propelling the Internet of Everything and transforming the shipping industry. And this change is starting with the customer.

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