What grabbed the attention of retailers at the National Retail Federation 2018? The shiny toys within Cisco’s ToyBox– which which served as a fully functional toy store displaying our various retail tech solutions– definitely caught some eyes. Discussions that took place within the booth and at break-out sessions brought insight to the main factors impacting the retail industry. Here are seven key takeaways from NRF that will help retailers understand the current retail climate and position their businesses to capitalize on the right opportunities.

1. Employee productivity has the largest value at stake when it comes to digitization.

The potential value of retail digitization from now through 2019 is $2.8 trillion – with associate productivity accounting for almost one third of the value. It’s therefore crucial that retailers implement solutions that empower associates and boost their value-add.

2. Happy employees make for happy customers.

Customer experience is a top priority. As the consumer of 2020 demands more from retailer interactions, associates who are well equipped with both information and technology – creating a frictionless shopping experience – will be more likely to meet those demands.

3. Many retailers are overpromising to the street about their new tech solutions, and IT is struggling to deliver.

Based on a conversation with Rob Massie, Senior Director of Enterprise and Store Systems at Dollar General, retailers are eager to give customers frictionless experiences. However, they don’t always have the foresight to give their foundational infrastructure the attention it requires to deploy these solutions securely or at scale.

4. Security is a retailer’s Achilles heel.

No one wants to see their name in the headlines because of a data breach. Security needs to become top of mind for retailers building their store’s network and infrastructure. When security is embedded end-to-end, protection extends beyond data to the entire brand.

5. When it comes to shopping experience, the customer is always right.

Direct insight from customers about their preferred solutions far outweighs perceived needs in the industry, which elevates the importance of data analytics captured by partners. Implementing solutions to directly address those needs will help retailers move their profitability needle.

6. Speed and agility is important, but the foundation is key.

According to Guillermo Diaz, SVP and CIO of Cisco, the concept of innovation is very exciting for retailers. He referenced former Cisco CEO John Chambers’ advice that speed and agility is commendable for any organization and eagerness surrounding that is great, but it must not become alienated from the development of a reliable network.

7. The digital roadmap requires retailers to think five to ten years ahead.

Many retailers who are bringing transformation to life deploy digital solutions like mobile pay or heatmapping – all solutions showcased in the Cisco ToyBox. With digital demands increasing over time, the infrastructure for the future needs to be in place to build intelligent retail experiences and sustain business on the road ahead.

For more information on Cisco’s retail solutions, visit www.cisco.com/go/retail


Nicki Vereschagin

Global Retail Marketing Content Strategist

Global Industries Marketing