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Why Your In-Store Web, Mobile, and Video Experiences Matter

The lines between offline and online experiences are blurring. Customers no longer go online, they are online 24/7, and that includes inside your stores. In fact according to recent Google research, 89% of smartphone users leverage their smartphones while shopping in stores. And close to 70% of those used it to look at the retailer’s site and 21% look at apps.

Furthermore, according to Laura Wade-Gery, executive director of Multi-channel eCommerce for Marks & Spencer, “Shoppers who shop on our website as well as in our stores spend four times as much; throw smartphones into the mix and they spend eight times as much.” Enabling web, mobile, and video experiences in the store represents a huge opportunity – whether it is interactive, connected digital signage; Wi-Fi; employee-focused endless aisle apps; and so on.

Yet the majority of our customers face the reality that digital innovation is overwhelming their enterprise network. Everything from web apps, HD video, software updates, mobile apps, and even digital signage are traversing the network eating up valuable bandwidth. In addition, most retailers subscribe to doing more with less – particularly when it comes to IT – so upgrading enterprise network bandwidth across every store every few years is often just not viable, both from a budget and agility perspective. That is not to mention that a lot of Cisco customers can’t upgrade their bandwidth due to store location even if they wanted to.

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But bandwidth constrained enterprise networks are only one side of the story. Latency is the other, whether caused by distance or amplified by enterprise network architectures such as backhauling Internet traffic over the WAN through the datacenter and out to the Internet. Currently, the vast majority of retailers use this network topology for store Internet access.

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And as we all know, high latency is particularly detrimental to web application performance.

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Just look at the difference in latency and bandwidth between in-store and residential Wi-Fi. In fact, latency for in-store Wi-Fi is higher than latency for LTE.

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The bottom line is that congested, high-latency, low bandwidth enterprise networks result in slow HTTP applications, video, and software updates.

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And we all know that video or apps that are slow or not working properly are bad for business. There has been plenty of research highlighting the fact that as web apps get slower, conversion rates decrease, abandonment rates increase, and employee productivity plummets.

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In other words, slow apps – whether inside or outside the store – equals unhappy customers and unproductive employees. The answer to this problem? Retailers need to focus on accelerating HTTP/S applications, video and software updates while maximizing enterprise network bandwidth to ensure fast, high-quality experiences to all of your end users.

To learn more, be sure to register to join us on June 16 for a free one-hour webcast.

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Analytics Opens a Window into Each Shopper’s Journey

The key to retail today is customer understanding —where each customer stands on his or her personal shopping journey, whether in-store or out. Retailers must “know” each shopper as never before. And they must offer the kinds of contextual, personally relevant experiences that will optimize their merchandise mix, create faster inventory turns, and drive greater customer engagement.

Yet, as a recent Cisco study revealed, offline retailers – or retailers that combine on and offline capabilities – have their own unique advantages – if they step up to the opportunities of the Internet of Everything (IoE) economy. By blending the benefits of the physical store — such as the ability to touch, compare, and try on products — with the benefits of the virtual world, retailers can create a new value proposition that can’t be matched by their online-only competitors. In the process, they not only drive their own industry’s disruption but challenge for market leadership.

Learn more by reading Mala Anand’s blog here.

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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!

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Join Us on Oct. 22 for Our Final Analytics Webcast

Hello, retailers everywhere! My name is Dianne Lamendola, and I am a senior retail practice advisor here at Cisco. My role is to work closely with store operators and merchants to help understand your business and how technology can help you reach critical goals.

I hope you have been following our three-part series of one-hour webcasts that Cisco has been hosting this year on retail analytics. In the store, online, and across data sources, retailers have been increasingly focused on how to gather and analyze the metrics that help provide insights to run a tighter operation and provide a more exciting experience for your shoppers.

On Oct. 22, we’ll wrap up this series with a session on “Technology that Gets Down to Business: Develop Your Action Plan for Retail Analytics Success.” Held at 10:00-11:00 am PT/1:00-2:00 pm ET, this candid discussion lets you learn how to:

  • Implement innovative retail analytics technologies
  • Drive added value from traditional and new data sources
  • Deploy mobility, wireless, video cameras, sensors, and services to jumpstart your action plan

Register today! By registering, you will also earn a free introductory analytics enablement meeting and additional tools to help you think more about your program.

While it’s not necessary to attend the previous sessions to join us, please feel free to review the recordings of our prior events:

  1. Part I: Understanding the Basics of Setting Up Your In-Store Analytics Program – Recording
  2. Part II: Case Studies of Analytics Programs in Real-World Stores – Recording

We welcome all retailers, including IT staffers, who want to know more about how analytics fit into and enhance your store environment.

I’ll see you there!

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Revamping the MSE User Interface

As part of the WLC 8.0 release, we addressed customer comments and revamped the user interface (UI) for the MSE. We wanted to make it easier for customers using both MSE and PI to adjust to larger deployments. We also wanted to quicken the pace at which we could deliver features to the customers. Today I want to walk you through the landing page and configuration of the new MSE UI.

Landing Page

The landing page is the first thing one sees when logging into  the MSE UI. This page provides the user with a basic snapshot of system health, an easy way to launch the apps, and a quick status of the various services on MSE.

System Health

The new UI highlights important parameters like CPU and Memory usage in order to give the user an indication of the stress being handled by the MSE.

 mseui1 Read More »

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