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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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Mobility in the Store – More Dollars, Less Intrusive

We’re rapidly closing in on the NRF trade show being held in New York on Jan. 12-15. Cisco is at the expo on Jan. 13-14, and will be featuring several company speakers at the popular annual Big Idea sessions. I am honored this year to be one of these speakers, and am pleased to be joined by Bob Friday, Cisco’s vice president/CTO for Enterprise Networking -- Mobility. Bob manages strategic wireless initiatives for Enterprise Wi-Fi, and we’ll be discussing the critical business issues of implementing mobile solutions in your store.

So what are the hot topics right now around mobility?

Retailers are going in some interesting directions here. Location awareness of customers is of course hot, hot, hot. Retailers want to learn from shopper behavior how they can best improve opportunities for sales. But, how can we do this without getting into the “creepy factor” of essentially stalking our customers down the aisles?

And, of course, every retailer wants to find shortcuts to ROI and monetization of the mobile platform. Part of this lies around the organization itself: It is common to see companies where IT and lines of business are simply not working together closely enough to get real value out of new technology. For example, I remember one store that was required by management to implement Wi-Fi. This was all well and good, but they didn’t implement any analytics for the new network. The result was that they have a cool technology but no idea of how to use it to engage shoppers, or even to identify how it is benefiting them.

In our session, Bob and I will discuss how you can use your Wi-Fi as a strategic asset – not just as the next awesome thing, but as a critical part of your engagement with shoppers. I’d like to also cover ideas on personalization vs. contextualization: This gets into how we can gather information without being intrusive. And we’ll talk about how to achieve ROI for your wireless investment and turn it into a new revenue driver. Please join us!

Time and Place:

 “Detect, Connect, Engage: Enhance Your Customer Experience with Mobility,” with me and Bob Friday takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 9:15-10:00 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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Understanding the Internet of Everything for Retail

Here at Cisco we are busy getting ready to go to NRF next week, which is being held in New York on Jan.  12-15. Cisco is at the show expo on Jan. 13-14, and will be featuring four company thought leaders in the annual Big Idea sessions. I asked Lisa Fretwell, customer solution director at Cisco, to tell us more about her topic and the buzzphrase that’s beginning to penetrate the industry: The Internet of Everything.

Q: Lisa, what is the Internet of Everything?  

The Internet of Everything, or IOE, is the next step change in customer experience store efficiency and effectiveness, a way of thinking about stores and store technologies to derive the greatest possible benefit from every data point.  In the future there will a significant increase in the numbers of “things” connected to the Internet. Those new connections will create a huge amount of useful data that we can use to transform our processes and radically change the way that stores engage with customers. This next generation combines data, processes, people, and things to create significant new and additional value for the businesses.

Q: Why is IOE so important for retailers?

A: Remember years ago when the Internet came along and retailers said, “It will never take off”? Today’s transition to the Internet of Everything will be even larger and faster than the move to eCommerce or mCommerce, as it is enables rich customer experiences and a new era of operational productivity. IOE helps to optimize low margins and drive profitability by keeping stores ahead of high customer expectations. It accomplishes this by improving productivity through automated operations based on new data sources and sensors combined with smart analytics.

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

A: My goal is to help retailers start to understand the critical opportunity offered by IOE. I think it’s important for retailers to understand these new concepts and see what their competitors are doing. We’ll discuss what they need to do to get their business ready for IOE and how to get started – not just architectures, and connectivity, but how IT needs to rethink data and analytics platforms and how retail businesses can adapt to make the most of the brave new IOE world. To understand the economics of this, check out the white paper Embracing the Internet of Everything.

Time and Place:

“The Internet of Everything: What’s the Art of the Possible in Retail?” with Lisa Fretwell takes place on Monday, Jan. 13, at 2:00-3:00 pm, 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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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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