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Mobility Trends in Retail

With the holiday season now in our rearview mirror, I scheduled a meeting over TelePresence to meet with our resident mobility expert, Chris Kozup, and Jon Stine, director of Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) focused on the retail market, to learn about some of the mobility trends in retail, specifically how retailers can evolve their mobility practice in their operations.Like many industries, retail is a market segment that is not immune to a difficult economy; and we’re seeing some new ways for retailers to use mobility to help them in the near-term, as well as position them for more long-term competitiveness after this we pass this challenging economic time. How can wireless and mobility help at a time like this? With labor as a major midline cost, increasing employee productivity is the goal -- the greater number of mobile applications, the greater the potential for staff productivity. Mobility has shown to help increase productivity by 10 to 20 percent. When a consumer comes into a store and needs help, the first thing they’ll do is locate an associate. But at the same time, the associate should be able to answer questions at point of activity or the point of sale to help the consumer make a purchasing decision. This not only results in greater productivity, but higher retail performance, and it improves the consumer experience. Recently, Joseph De Avila at The Wall Street Journal published a piece titled “œPlease Hold, My Cellphone is Buying a Gift” that focused on retailers using mobile devices to reach out to shoppers. Retailers that we’ve spoken with confirm that this is a trend to begin planning around as consumers are coming to stores with their smartphones. This is an opportunity for retailers to connect with consumers through the mobile device, and essentially bring more of the store to the consumer.Cisco’s wireless and mobility solutions serve as a secure platform to help retailers do more with less or with what they already have. Sure, applications like inventory management and price look-up are expected today; but, mobile point of sale, selling using collaborative video, and product location services from the associate’s mobile device will soon be the norm. Take another leap forward, and then retailers can securely connect with the consumer’s mobile device as another channel to interact with consumers. This too will become the norm, and this is where the compelling value proposition for mobility really takes form.That is just one glimpse into the future, and I invite you to share your visions for what an evolved shopping experience will look like in the three to five years. For the near-term, are you open to retailers, alerting you about sales on your mobile device?Thanks for tuning in.

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