According to Gartner, at least 60% of organizations will use artificial intelligence for digital commerce by 2020. That means that in order to stay on the cutting edge, retailers with an omni-channel strategy will continue to evolve their value chains in order to ensure customers get the best, most connected retail experience possible.

Innovative solutions that help retailers uncover efficiencies and drive customer engagement are all centered around data. New ways to gather this data at the edge across a retailer’s value chain are popping up every day. Here are a few we are seeing:

  • Robots managing inventory (freeing up associates to handle tasks that more directly contribute to customer satisfaction)
  • In-store facial recognition and pushed product promotions, based on proximity to a frequently visited brick and mortar location
  • Virtual fitting rooms to visualize how products (like apparel) may look on their person without actually trying them on
  • AR solutions to display product information from a camera view, or VR features to see what certain furniture may look like next to each other (without moving them)
  • Automated drone delivery of products to go straight to the consumer

retail innovation

Increasingly so, innovative solutions that are top of mind for retailers now involve getting these products into the hands of their shoppers quicker from flexible fulfillment.

Traditional retailers are not typically set up to handle the steep demand for increased speed and convenience in a cost-effective way. So, although they want to offer flexible fulfillment and endless aisle experiences, their IT structure simply can’t support it. Designing which innovative solutions will most greatly benefit your end customers should start with a conversation around how your network will lay the foundation, and integrate your retail systems across the value chain.


Multi-cloud environments handling data storage across suppliers and supply chains can enable iterations and support new solutions without compromising business-critical workflows. End-to-end security embedded in the network can protect customer and retailer data as new applications are launched and developers iterate with API-friendly technologies. All to enable the outcomes and customer experiences that drive better retail for customers, associates, store managers, IT buyers and those in between.


New, innovative capabilities will continue to take the retail industry by storm. Having an IT backbone in place to support these solutions is the best way for retailers to prepare now for what the future of the industry will look like. And successfully leveraging an IT infrastructure as a strategic advantage is a differentiator for retailers in this digitally oriented, fast-paced consumer market where innovation not only inspires us all, but enables bottom line growth.

Click here to learn more about why Cisco is your best strategic IT partner for Retail.


Nicki Vereschagin

Global Retail Marketing Content Strategist

Global Industries Marketing