Competition in the retail food space became even fiercer when Amazon bought Whole Foods, catapulting the digital giant into 450 physical locations across the United States. This move put all grocery store chains on notice: Digitally transform or perish.

Easier said than done.

Digital transformation essentially requires migrating workloads and applications to the cloud. But traditional brick-and-mortar grocers are unlikely to have all the expertise in house to go it alone. And no single vendor, not even Cisco with one of the broadest portfolios of software, hardware, and services in the industry, can provide everything from soup to nuts needed by a national grocery chain to digitally transform itself. Rather, it takes an ecosystem of partners, working together to deliver an end-to-end digital transformation solution.

In addition, the design and delivery of this solution must be discussed with individuals in new buying centers outside of IT—such as the chief marketing officer, chief security officer, head of E-commerce, contact center VP, and VP of store operations. After all, these roles have a tremendous stake in the business outcome and the overall technology spend.

Indeed, digital transformation takes a village. Put another way, digitally transforming a company takes a co-selling team of partners whose solutions complement each other.

Deciding to digitally transform

Take a top-10 U.S. grocery company with a strong local presence and national scale as an example. To better serve its customers and complete more strongly, this grocer decided to simplify its operations by adopting a cloud-first strategy. This strategy included decommissioning its own data centers and migrating its on-premises infrastructure into the cloud.

The grocer also decided to focus its resources strategically on improving the customer experience rather than tactically building solutions by integrating components and managing its own underlying infrastructure. For this approach to be successful, however, the grocer needed vendors to deliver the solutions stack it needed.

Enter the Cisco-led co-selling team

To meet its strategic objectives, the grocer turned to Cisco for help. Cisco, in turn, worked with a number of complementary partners to develop a solution that would meet the grocer’s e-commerce- and collaboration outcome-focused needs by modernizing its environment.

In fact, Cisco, at its core, is built on a partner-first culture and mentality. For example, Cisco has hundreds of SolutionPlus partners, including ISVs that provide applications that leverage Cisco APIs to add value to the Cisco portfolio. Partners can also be found at the Global Cisco Partner Ecosystem.

In this solution, Cisco incorporated its unified communications, contact center, and voice solutions. In addition, the Cisco Customer Experience (CX) team provided its digitized retail CX modernization solution, enabling e-commerce through self-service, including chat and voice bot automation driven by AI.

Ecosystem partners Nuance and Google Cloud Center AI (CCAI) technologies provided underlying AI-enabled bot capability. These voice- and chat-enabled bots allow the grocer’s customers to interact with a live bot, streamlining their conversations. These bots also automatically connect customers to the contact center when their knowledge base has been exhausted and a live person is required to provide better service. This capability has only grown in importance, because the grocer’s e-commerce business has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Acqueon was another strategic partner in the solution, providing outbound conversation management and enabling the grocer to reach out to customers in areas ranging from loyalty programs to payment systems. The chain offers its own branded credit card. The Acqueon solution helps it engage in conversations with customers to better manage collections on these cards.

In addition, Cisco partner Calabrio plays an important role in workforce optimization through two applications. One application makes it possible to record customer calls, so they are preserved for legal and training purposes. A second application creates a work schedule to help ensure that resources are properly aligned with the number of contacts requested by customers into the grocer’s contact center.

SpinSci Technologies is the software developer partner, helping to integrate and customize elements of the solution. SpinSci helped modernize the user experience by updating the look and feel of the solution’s menu.

Finally, Equinix provided edge hosting, offering direct connection to applications running in the cloud.

Architecturally, the entire solution runs in a multicloud environment with the Cisco Collaboration cloud invoking services running in its own or other clouds.

Co-Selling with Cisco as the lead

This particular solution was led primarily by Cisco, which brought a number of advantages to the customer and co-selling partners. The customer was able to interact with Cisco as the lead responsible for delivering the solution, rather than having to manage different partners contributing to the overall solution.

Complementary solution partners saw additional value such as Cisco bringing Google into the deal. In fact, Google was already active in the account and had not previously realized that Cisco could fill a gap in its AI offering.


Ultimately, the customer was able to digitally transform itself through the solution provided by the co-selling team. It has, for example, seen a huge shift in its pick-up and delivery business. Previously, the grocer had less than 10 distribution centers in the U.S. but now has some 2000 in-store microdistribution centers where employees fill orders for online shoppers. This workflow is enhanced by the single collaboration platform provided by Cisco and its solution partner ecosystem.

Through co-selling, Cisco and its partners were able to leverage each other’s conversations and value propositions to talk to more buying centers outside of IT. After all, digital transformation business capabilities are primarily the responsibility of the lines of businesses and roles such as the chief marketing officer and chief digitization officer.

Not only did Cisco and its co-selling team deliver the solution the grocer needed to meet its customer experience objectives, but they also walked away with a deal worth well over US$20 million.

Sound interesting? If you’re a Cisco partner, learn more about how to co-sell with Cisco!

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Akbar Hasan

Senior Director, Co-sell Acceleration Group

Global Strategic Partner Organization