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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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Retailers Lying Awake at Night – Who’s Next?

In the past few weeks, I’ve received two replacement credit cards. And, no, this does not indicate I’ve done too much shopping! It means that hackers are continuing to target retailers and the bank decided I needed to be protected by new credit card numbers.

I’m Carol Ferrara-Zarb, and as the leader of Cisco’s Security Solutions team, I’m joining the Cisco Retail blog today to talk to you about security and compliance in the store. While consumers certainly worry about security, the concerns of retailers are magnified because you are among the highest-profile targets right now for professional hacker attacks. Store owners and operators are just about lying awake at night wondering who is going to be next.

At the same time, change is continuing on the security front, particularly in the area of PCI compliance. At the end of this calendar year, the new 3.0 version of the PCI DSS mandate will come into force. Are you ready for the new requirements?

If you’re a Cisco customer, you very well may be. Join us on July 23 for a free, one-hour webcast called, “Straight Talk about Reducing Complexity and Maintaining Compliance in Retail.” Cisco Security Architect Christian Janoff, who sits on the PCI Security Standards Council Board of Advisors, and Aaron Reynolds, PCI Managing Principal for Cisco partner Verizon, will lead a candid discussion on retail security. The session covers:

  • The changes in the PCI DSS 3.0 mandate and their impact on your retail business
  • How to satisfy three standards—PCI, SOX, and HIPAA—by configuring one control
  • Implementing the latest, simplified strategies for PCI scope reduction, and how they can be superior to traditional methods for many retailers

You’ll come away with an overview of today’s threat landscape, and we’ll put it all into perspective to support your continued pursuit of compliance and retail success. Registrants will also receive the Simplifying Compliance Answer Kit, a set of documents and tools to help you understand compliance better.

The webcast takes place on July 23 at 10:00 am PT/1:00 pm ET. Please register today! Be sure to bring your questions to take part in the discussion.

We’ll see you there!

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Retail Analytics for an Omnichannel World

Hello, there! My name is Kathryn Howe, and I’m a senior advisor in Cisco’s Retail Industry Practice. I am joining this blog to write regularly on my favorite topic and one of today’s hottest retail trends: Shopper behavior analytics and how they can support omnichannel selling.

Your store is probably among those that are collecting and analyzing masses of data about customers, products, and store operations to earn additional revenue and savings. The challenge of this big data, of course, is that metrics don’t mean much unless the store has access to the right data to meet your specific business needs. But when you do, such metrics become a powerful tool to create efficiencies and support your omnichannel strategies.

Most of the retailers I meet are extremely enthusiastic about the idea of utilizing shopper analytics technologies to generate deeper insights they can use to better manage their businesses – but aren’t too sure of how to do it. However, the truth is that the use cases for analytics in the store are almost infinite. As just a few examples, you can:

Predict resource requirements

Retailers can use analytics tools to measure traffic, wait times, and queue lengths, proactively anticipating resource demands across the store. For example, front-end staffing demand in grocery can be anticipated using a combination of real-time traffic counting, trip time data, and data on staff on hand. Resources are thus dynamically allocated based on real-time information, improving productivity of labor hours and improving customer satisfaction.

Drive traffic to the store

Through presence and location-based mobility analytics, retailers pinpoint the location of opt-in shoppers when they are close to a store location. With personalized reminders or discount offers sent directly to their smartphones, consumers are more motivated to visit the store if they are nearby.

Counteract showrooming

Retailers can leverage customer showrooming by providing real-time discounts and price matching on the shopper’s mobile device based on their location in the store. For example, analytics from mobile or video may detect high wait times in a department or category. In response, the store can alert staff to offer immediate assistance, or send a personalized offer to the shopper’s mobile device. This turns showrooming from a threat into a promotional opportunity, improves the shopper’s opinion of the store, and builds a strong long-term relationship.

I recently authored a white paper that addresses these and many other use cases, which you can find here. For a dynamic conversation on these and other analytics topics, please join us on June 25 for a free hour-long webcast on real-world analytics. It’s being hosted by Cisco and a group of our partners to discuss how to optimize operations and workforce efficiency, increase marketing effectiveness, and strategize for Analytics 3.0. See you there!

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Omnianalytics for an Omnichannel World

At Cisco, we’re about ready for the NRF trade show being held in New York on Jan.  12-15. We’re at the show expo on Jan. 13-14, and will be featuring four company thought leaders in the highly popular annual Big Idea sessions. Kathryn Howe, retail senior advisor at Cisco, will be discussing one of the industry’s most forward-looking trends – how to utilize omnianalytics that help retailers extract the most data out of omnichannel environments.

Q: The concept of omnianalytics is a new one for many retailers. Can you tell us more about it?

A: In pursuit of the personalized customer experience, retailers are increasingly moving toward omnichannel selling across stores, websites, mobile platforms and applications, phones, kiosks, and so on. Each of these channels adds another layer to the customer experience, and each layer generates a new set of data. These data sets offer a new opportunity for stores to engage with the customer.  Omnianalytics is the process of managing and correlating these large amounts of data to transform your business.

Q: Why is this data so important?

A: For the first time in history, retailers can collect truly objective, quantifiable customer data. Traditional shop-alongs, simulations, and focus groups are inevitably somewhat inaccurate, as simply being observed can change shopper behavior. Today’s automated systems, on the other hand, collect completely unbiased information on dwell times, traffic patterns, and other behaviors. They are also extremely scalable, meaning that consistent metrics can be gathered across thousands of stores to provide very high quality data.

Q: What do you think are the most important topics you’ll discuss at NRF?

Knowing which metrics are game changers for your business is the art and science of executing on omnianalytics. We’ll talk about how to get started and how to understand which metrics you need for your business. We’ll also be joined by John Goedert of Starbucks, who provides a wonderful case study on how his company is using omnianalytics to drive consumer interactions.

Time and Place:

“Omnianalytics: Knowledge is Good, Now How Can It Transform My Business?” with Kathryn Howe takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 1:15-2:15 am, in Room 4 on Level 3 of the Expo Hall. For those who can’t be there, a recording of the session will be available after the show. Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more, and do take the time to stop by Cisco booth #1954.

I’ll see you at NRF!

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