Ever felt that you’ve spent half your life searching for a parking space? Well, it’s not that much of an exaggeration. One study estimates that typical drivers spend 2,549 hours of their lives in the aimless, money-wasting, and gas-guzzling quest for a place to park.
Now imagine that through technology — connected cars, roads, and, of course, parking spaces — you could substantially reduce all of that wasted time and money.
Unfortunately, business and enterprise are rife with their own versions of wild goose chases for parking spaces: supply-chain deficiencies, checkout bottlenecks, quality-control failings, communication breakdowns, and, yes, clogged parking lots. These are but a few of the drags on productivity, efficiency, and innovation.
The solution for all these problems may be the same: connectivity.
The retail industry is facing unprecedented changes. Since Amazon went online in 1995, technology has been blurring the boundaries between virtual and physical retail space. The third annual Cisco study of consumers found that nearly 80 percent of U.S. consumers use the Internet to shop. Armed with their smartphones, customers now walk into a store with much more knowledge and power in the palm of their hands than ever before, enough to keep retail executives up at night.
Nearly one out of three shoppers search on their mobile device before purchasing in store. Customers want to know if items are available in the right size, right color, and right now. These shoppers expect the same prices, products, and offers regardless of the channel being used (e-commerce websites, brick-and-mortar stores, or mobile devices). I’m surprised at how many stores really don’t know what’s in stock. To keep up with today’s savvy shoppers, retailers need to update their inventory systems using signals from their supply chains, online presence, back rooms, and front stores in real time. And all of this is the in the context of shrinking customer spending, rising business costs, and competition.
With these monumental shifts in consumer behavior, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the biggest Internet of Everything (IoE) Value at Stake opportunities reside in extracting customer insights and creating better experiences. For years, retailers have trusted Cisco innovations to help them improve the store experience, increase supply chain efficiencies, and deliver a consistent multi-channel experience to their customers. Just last month, on stage at Cisco Live with John Chambers, I demonstrated Cisco’s location-based services to help retailers improve planogram and measure campaign effectiveness through the movement of customers. But there is much more that the Internet of Everything can do to address the two main goals of retailers: revenue and loyalty.
In the fast-changing, thin-margin world of consumer products, new winners and losers are created every day. Speed of innovation, time-to-market, and employee productivity can mean the difference between the next hot trend and a warehouse full of excess inventory. Success in the highly competitive consumer packaged goods (CPG) and retail industry depends on broad-ranging collaboration, accelerated innovation, and employees who are empowered and productive every step along the way—from product development, to merchandising and sourcing, to store management and customer service.
Last week I was honored to co-present with Parvez Patel, senior director of e-strategy at Grainger, on a session at Internet Retailer Conference 2013, titled “Social Marketing for B2B: It’s Not Just for B2C Anymore.”
In this session both of us discussed how we approached B2B social media from a Grainger perspective and from a Cisco retail industry marketing perspective. Some of the points that we discussed include: