Whether it’s spring, summer, or fall, it’s always a good time to look for fresh ideas. Stocking up on inventory and designing visually compelling displays are important. Even more important is the technology you incorporate to engage with your employees and customers.

“The key to retail success is understanding the shopping journey. Customers buy whenever, wherever, and however they want,” says Dianne Lamendola, retail practice manager at Cisco. “What we call omnichannel, they just call shopping.”

“The critical thing is to deliver a truly integrated, consistent, compelling experience,” she says. “You can streamline and digitize every aspect of a store operation with video and mobile tools.”

“The real work of retailers is building a trustful and relevant relationship, creating a series of positive interactions with shoppers, and ultimately selling merchandise,” says Lamendola.

Employee engagement is critical to both the customer experience and retail success. The interactions that take place before, during, and after a sale, whether online or in a physical store, set top retailers apart. “Store associates ranked last on the list of trusted resources consumers access for product knowledge,” according to a recent Retailing Today article. “IBM views that as an opportunity for retailers to empower associations with tools to track inventory and offer promotions instead of focusing on general product information only.”

Use Video to Gain Trust and Loyalty
Start by looking at your digital approach. Personalize your business. Put a face to your name by creating a branded experience.

“In an always-on world, as much as 50% of sales are being influenced by digital interaction,” according to a Retail Touch Points Outlook Guide.

Start with employees by using video to connect with them face-to-face, for more personal interactions. Exchange ideas and offer live training. In turn, your customers will have a more memorable experience.

Specific benefits of video include:

  • Deeper Employee and Supplier Engagement: Video provides a face-to-face forum that brings teams together and fosters collaboration. For example, it’s an effective way to deliver customer-service training. Staff can visualize concepts, collectively express feedback, and be more engaged than with audio-only sessions. “Video builds stronger relationships between team members and improves quality of communications,” states Nick Parece, lead VoIP engineer, at Cimpress.
  • Faster Decision-making: Video reduces travel costs and provides staff across locations with the experience of being together. “Video collaboration changes the attitude of the business,” shares Rene Isip, Chief Operating Officer at John Eagle Auto Group. “People are more engaged, efficient, and accountable.”
  • Stronger Customer Relationships: Today’s shoppers use multiple channels to learn about your products and services. When considering a purchase they might research online, explore in stores, compare prices on mobile devices, and look to social media for reviews and ratings. “In addition to our team’s adoption of collaboration tools, we’re saving 7,000 euros a month,” says Paul Coby, CIO at John Lewis.

Three Ways to Get Started
Using video for retail employee and customer engagement doesn’t have to be a major shift. You can start with a few small changes and evaluate over time.

  • View your business as the window to shopper’s hearts. Get personal.  Use video to offer superior customer service, but don’t neglect your employees. Employees need the same level of engagement. Use video to connect, support, and create memorable experiences together.
  • Expand beyond traditional email and direct mail promotions.  These methods sometimes get lost or are never opened.  Engage in the here and now. Use video to put a face to your brand.  Create excitement while showing your merchandise in action or as part of your customers’ lifestyles.
  • Experience your brand through the eyes of shoppers. Design employee and vendor training programs that follow a buying journey. Use video to illustrate how engagement through social, mobile, and digital can be impactful.

Video adds personality to your brand. It adds a visual expression to your interactions. There’s no time like the present to try a fresh approach.

For more information on ways to improve your retail operations, check out Cisco’s collaboration resources for retail.


Sandra Acham

No Longer with Cisco