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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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Show Me the Retail Data

retailSuccess in retail often comes down to a counting game.  How many people pass by your store?  How many come inside?   How long do they stay?  And most importantly how many ultimately buy?

Today, the retail counting game has gotten a lot easier because we can now count devices as proxies for people, since many potential customers today, myself included, won’t leave home without their smartphone.  As soon as they enter a store, the beacon on their cell phone effectively announces its arrival to the Wi-Fi network and voilà, we have a count.

With the help of CMX Presence Analytics, these smart devices can help answer many key retailing questions with a single access point.

  • Who?
    Who is passing by the store versus coming in?  Presence Analytics uses both the cell phone’s signal strength as well as the time spent in the area to determine the number of people walking by versus in-store visitors.  Presence Analytics provides simple, quick reports on retail conversion metrics.   You can also track how often visitors return to a store in a given time period can be tracked, which can be key for customer loyalty programs.

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The Key to Success in Tracking Mobile Devices: Symbiosis, Not Espionage

As a shopper enters a store, the retailer uses Wi-Fi to track her movements, interests, and shopping habits, providing a treasure trove of insight valuable to merchandising and product development alike.

And as advances in Wi-Fi promise increasing location precision and beacons promise pinpoint location based services, the future appears to be smooth sailing, right?

Well, not exactly.

Tracking the position of mobile devices accurately and correlating to personal data has been one of the most sought after Big Data objectives. And not just for retailers — the potential wealth of business value from data has drawn piqued interest across nearly all industries.

Yet in the real world, issues arise from both technology challenges and privacy concerns alike.

Technology challenges include:

  • Typical Wi-Fi accuracies in the 7-to-10 meter range (though Angle of Arrival and improved location analytics promise dramatic improvements)
  • Infrequent mobile device probing to conserve battery power
  • Interference from metal shelves & fixtures, water in products (and people!)

Privacy qualms speak to the heart of transformation in the Internet of Everything (IoE) age. IoE, after all, is the explosion of network connections among people, process, data, and things — and promises to be one of the most impactful periods of change in our history. And the people element is in some ways the whole point — to make our lives better, healthier, more efficient, and so forth. But the people issues will be just as challenging as those that arise around technology. Read More »

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