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What Retailers should look for in 2012 – Happy Holidays

December 24, 2011 - 3 Comments

2011 is drawing to a close as I am writing this blog and Cisco is going on company holiday until after January3rd 2012. 

I will be taking time off myself to recharge after Christmas before heading off to National Retail Federation 2012 in New York. 

I thought I’d wrap up the year with what I think retailers will need to be looking at in 2012.

The Five Areas I think retailers need to pay attention to going forward are:

Consumer driven Pricing Transparency versus Retail Pricing Optimization

WSJ just wrote an article about pricing transparency the challenges of brick and mortar retailers.  Consumers can now use mobile applications to check for prices in the aisle and compare with competitors and online instantly.  This new area of pricing transparency has repercussions to retailers in terms of pricing guarantees and impacts their pricing management system as well as pricing optimization vendors.

Social media and Customer Service

Companies like Federal Express is right now dealing social media amplified customer service problem.  When one of their deliveries for the Christmas holidays went wrong, it was got caught on tape for 3.5 million views on YouTube.  Fedex addressed the problem with the customer and released a video on YouTube addressing the complaint.  Mistakes are no longer private, and retailers need to be responsive on social media going forward for both negative and positive news.

Tablet as a shopping device

I recently received an iPad as a gift with a wireless keyboard and I have been using it at home and work. I still carry my iPhone and use it heavily to manage my calendar, read Email and as a media player. 
On the tablet apps like takes advantage of the larger screen size for a better user experience, and for browsing the tablet form factor proves adequate for shopping.
As retailers had to optimize their web site for phones and small devies, they may have to optimize now for the tablet form factor and perhaps delivery tablet applications.

Omni Channel – Practical Steps from many diretions

A lot of research indicates shoppers are browsing and shopping across multiple channels like web, store, mobile, social media, etc.  Retailers are responding with various service offering to address that including pickup at store of online orders, text messaging and Email notification of store orders, store returns of online orders, guest WiFi access and web ordering kiosks. 

Personally I shopped at Nordstrom recently and opted for the electronic Email receipt option, now every time I shop there I am given the option of Email receipts.  Apple Stores also have been electronic receipts for a while.  As long as you have consumer consent, is electronic receipt another way for retailers a way of better integrating offline and online experience?

The role of  Cloud in the retailers computing needs

For retailers dealing with all the challenges of new projects, the computing model going forward is going to have to handle more dynamic workloads than before.  Ecommerce retailers address the seasonality of computing needs with Cloud, but brick and mortar retailers traditionally leverage a more static infrastructure.  Would cloud computing be the answer to help brick and clicks retailers address new projects in 2012?

Most of the Cisco retail social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linked In Group  and this blog will be quiet for the holidays. 

Happy Holidays and see you all at NRF 2012 in New York

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  1. There is no doubt that in 2012 the exponential trend of using mobile devices to check prices will continue. As you refer to in your article, things like the iPad will become much more commonplace and you’ll see people in the aisles of the major stores checking the price on the shelf and then running it through the iPad to see what’s available online.

    Of course retailers know this and are working hard to develop some kind of pricing strategy and price guarantee.

    A very common sight now at any social gathering of friends or family, (This was most recently noticeable at a Christmas party). Everyone has their iPhone at the ready and if any topic or product is mentioned in the conversation, those who are interested immediately pop it on the “net” and get further information regarding the product. This is a powerful advantage which the off line world can’t match.

    • Even though the offline retailers know that consumers are using the ipad or other mobile device to check prices will they be able to compete on price? After all the offline retailer has overhead costs such as tellers, floor staff, and utilities that the online retailers do not have.

      While i don’t think the shopping malls are doomed i do think the pricing competition will hurt.

  2. The ability to check prices on your mobile device, in my opinion, is already impacting brick and mortar retailers. Amazon has recorded over $1 billion in orders from mobile devices this year and i expect that the grow exponetialy in 2012 as more and more people catch on to online price checking while shopping. After all Amazon has free shipping and excellent customer service plus the low price gurantee so realistally the only reason for someone,that has a mobile device to check prices, to purchase at a brick and mortar retailer is to satisfy instant gratification urges or if the price is competitive.

    This will put a great deal of pressure on the brick and mortar retailers to offer the lowest price possible to compete with the online retailers that do not have the overhead that a brick and mortar retailer has.

    I feel sorry for the mom and pop shops that will not be able to compete on price. I used to have a brick and mortar store in the town that i grew up in. The SMSA was a 100 mile radius. Now that so many online retailers are offering free shipping with prices that a local shop can not compete with due to ,lower sales volume, staying in business will be next to impossible.