There’s always going to be shoppers who love the early morning ritual and adrenaline rush of getting up at 4 AM, driving early morning, and outwitting other shoppers to get brag-to-your-friends deals.  But there are those of us who are so busy with parties, meal planning, and Thanksgiving weekend sports that digital is increasingly the way to go.

The Retail Wakeup Call

In the digital shopping world, Amazon remains the growing retail disruptor elephant in the room. The dominance of the largest online retailer in the U.S. is intensifying: A staggering 94 percent of consumers will shop Amazon for gifts this holiday season, according to a BloomReach shopper survey. And 59% of them will start on Amazon. Amazon continues to be the first destination when consumers want to find a product, largely driven by “a perceived superior end-to-end experience,” said Jason Seeba, head of marketing at BloomReach.

New Year’s Resolution: Let’s Get “Phygital” 

Providing a similar superior customer experience is the wakeup call sounding for retailers, not only for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping, but for the entire 2017 calendar year.

Unfortunately, many retailers are still stuck in a rut when it comes to optimizing their online and in-store businesses. The reality is that what consumers really care about is the best way to find and purchase what they need, where they are, on a given day. “Customers want brick-and-mortar stores to be as efficient as ecommerce,” according to e-Marketer. This illustrates how consumer expectations are crossing over such that retail customer experience efforts must now transcend historical boundaries of digital and physical stores. This is made possible by today’s trend toward digital transformation.

Learn more about the technologies behind digital transformation in the recent paper The Future of Retail on the Cisco Retail website.

A Retail Digital Transformation Requires New Capabilities

As we all look toward the future of digital retailing, there are three key areas that every retailer needs to focus on:

1. Enhancing Customer Experience 

According to Gartner, 89 percent of retailers compete on customer experience.  As digital becomes the norm in retail and omnichannel capabilities mature, customer expectation continue to evolve. Providing a timely and personalized experience increases loyalty while giving them an enhanced sense of belonging to the brand.

In parallel, creating effortless experiences that reduce friction in all channels make it easier for your customers to shop, also driving stronger brand affinity. The easiest way to achieve this is by getting customers to be more connected both in the physical and digital world. Having data available to create a 360-degree view of their relationship with your brand and knowing how they prefer to shop is critical to creating a superior customer experience.

2. Increasing Associate Productivity

A retailer’s employees should be as connected as the customer. Digital technology plays a key role in empowering employees to best serve your customers while motivating them to be brand ambassadors. In this way, store associates evolve into a trusted advisor, assisting customers in-aisle with real-time inventory information, product specifications, and concierge-like services. Digital technologies also enable training, collaboration, recognition, and apps that help increase worker satisfaction. This, in turn, reduces turnover while having a positive impact on the customer experience.

3. Optimizing and Securing Business Operations

Leveraging technology to understand where a product is within the manufacturing or supply chain process provides the transparency that both retailers and customers demand. This level of information helps assure that product is available as soon as possible, and that the customer can take advantage of a variety of delivery options.  As well, you need to ensure that customer’s retail transactions are secure no matter how they choose to shop.

To learn more about retail security, especially during the holiday shopping season, check out Kathryn Howe’s blog on “Making a List and Checking It Twice.”

By following these three simple steps, your store will be ready to begin its digital transformation journey into the Store of the Future. To stay on top of the latest Cisco thinking in retail, please follow @CiscoRetail.


Brian McDonald

Global Retail & Hospitality Industries Marketing Lead

Private Sector Industry Marketing