Finding New Directions for Retail: The Ever-Changing Store
Hello, everyone! My name is Anne McClelland, and I am the new director for Cisco’s retail and hospitality sales team in the U.S. I’m excited to have the chance to write for Cisco’s retail blog program, and you’ll be hearing from me regularly sharing some insights, musings, and speculations on trends as well as giving you information about Cisco’s resources for the industry.
One of the interesting discussions that I’m having with our customers right now is about the relationship between eCommerce and the physical store, and how this relationship is being significantly redefined. Retailers are wrestling with how to leverage the store to improve online sales (and vice versa) to create a truly omnichannel buying experience for their customers.
To better align these channels, I’m seeing just how much retailers want to do more with consumer analytics. Retail executives are talking to us about their interest in finding new ways to understand who exactly the shoppers are, who is actually coming in their stores (and who is not), why they are or are not responding to promotions, and when they do buy: what was on their list vs. what was incremental to their planned purchases. Retailers are also anxious to better understand and leverage the technology at the edge – at the store entrance, on the end-caps, in aisles, on the shelves, and on the goods themselves.
To make this all this magic happen, retailers find they need to upgrade network infrastructures; those who were not ready for all of these potential edge analytics are now finding themselves feeling a bit “behind the times.” We are hearing that many of our retail and hospitality friends are looking to find creative new ways to light up the aisles and the back office. We are hearing very strategic questions such as, “Do we have too many stores?” “Are we over-invested in inventory and store footprint?” “Is there a way to streamline our operations?” “Can we better integrate online and brick and mortar to gain efficiencies?” Many retailers are integrating online delivery and returns to stores, as well as testing new models such as third-party package-delivery firms. I’ll explore these topics in future blogs.
Meanwhile in the store itself, where the rubber meets the road, how are retailers differentiating today? Where are the crowds of the people congregating? Why are they there? I think of the Apple store in our local mall, I think of the Disney store in Times Square. These stores are literally jammed. Why is this? Why is Apple’s store so jammed? What has the Disney store done to evolve to drive crowds and new business concepts?
Innovation is key: Disney has made a business model around glamorizing the Disney princesses for their customers running “The Disney Princess Store,” including new services, videos, games, products. They have opened up a mega-category that is a logical extension of what their customers love to do… dress up. Why aren’t the department stores similarly jammed? It’s all about innovation; it’s all about thinking deeply about the consumer; it’s about driving brand association and attraction; and it’s about executing on the “theater of retail.”
We’ll be joining Cisco’s partner NCR at the Synergy User Conference, being held June 22-25. I’ll be speaking there on the “Internet of Things: Retail Without Boundaries” and discussing how seemingly futuristic technologies are changing the way retailers interact with their customers – I hope to see you there!
I look forward to getting to know you in person and through this blog in the coming months. In the meantime, I invite you to extend your knowledge by attending our free summer retail webcasts:
- June 16: “Delivering Successful Store-of-the-Future Experiences,” held at 10:00-11:00 am PT/1:00-2:00 pm ET, with Forrester Research’s Adam Silverman on improving store infrastructures and bandwidth. Register today.
- July 14: “Make Your Data Meaningful: New Strategies for In-Store Shopper Experiences,” held at 10:00-11:00 am PT/1:00-2:00 pm ET, on new analytics capabilities for retail environments. Register today.
Feel free to connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.