Cisco Blogs

Cisco Blog > Retail

Take the Chaos Out of Holiday Shopping and Increase Sales By 50%

‘Tis the season for bold and forward-thinking retailers to try new things! Excitement is building as many innovative retailers focus on areas to make the holiday shopping experience better for their customers.

Enhancing Retail Mobile Apps


Some retailers are using mobile apps to help customers spend less time gathering deals and waiting in line, and more on finding the gifts their friends and family want:

  • Target makes it easy for parents to play Santa by enhancing their kids’ wish list app. This app includes new holiday games and a kid-friendly search function to add products in a “letter to Santa.” Parents then log into adult mode and respond to the letter, buy the presents directly, and share the list with relatives.
  • Kohl’s mobile app lets shoppers gather all their deals in one place by scanning gift cards, Kohl’s Cash, and Yes2You loyalty rewards into a mobile wallet. Customers also enjoy accelerated checkout in stores using Apple Pay.
  • Walmart’s mobile app lets customers build holiday wish lists by scanning items while shopping in stores, which can then be accessed by friends and family members using the app’s search feature. The app also directs consumers who order presents online to pickup locations in the store.

Creating a Better Omnichannel Experience


Retailers are also connecting online and offline channels with technology in the store to make sure customers don’t leave empty-handed:

  • Gamestop helps customers who want to avoid lines at all costs by letting them order products with their mobile app and pick it up in the store. If a shopper starts their shopping journey in the store, sales associates equipped with mobile devices will help them browse the complete online inventory, ship products to their home, and check out quickly with Apple Pay and Android Pay.
  • This year Kohl’s is debuting a “Ready for Pickup” email to alert customers that their order is ready, complete with an in-store map directing them to a pickup kiosk. Customers use just one shopping cart whether they’re shopping from their smart phone, tablet, or desktop.
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods is providing customers with an “Endless Aisle” experience. If an item is sold out in the store, the customer can use a digital kiosk to order the item, or work with a sales associate to have the item shipped to their home, often free of charge.

These innovations are supported by Cisco research on digital shoppers, which confirms that shoppers are very willing to use mobile features related to product research, purchase, delivery, and product support. In fact, 63 percent of customers surveyed would use in-store guidance to navigate to desired products, 60 percent would scan barcodes when shopping, and 49 percent would use mobile payments. Retailers can expect improved satisfaction and conversion by investing in mobile experiences that provide convenience and value to the customer, and avoiding features that complicate the shopper journey.

Cisco has also found that retailers can turn shoppers into omnichannel customers by allowing them to use in-store technology to purchase out-of-stock items. In a previous holiday season, Cisco customer Tesco combined online and in-store shopping experiences to exceed online holiday sales targets and achieved more than 50 percent sales growth.

We’re looking forward to seeing what kind of results progressive retailers will deliver this holiday season. Share what innovative approaches you are seeing in the marketplace and where you are placing your bets this season!

For more innovative retail strategies, see our Top 10 list of how you can create the ultimate shopping experience.




Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#CiscoChat Recap: Where Shopping Experience Meets the New Digital Customer

In my first #CiscoChat I hosted together with Anabelle Pinto, we were joined by Gaurav Pant and Sahir Anand from EKN Research to share their perspective and dig deeper into additional findings from Cisco and IDC. We started by defining who the digital consumer is, what type of services they’re looking for and what shoppers want and expect, all while providing the security they need.

Here are a few highlights from the #CiscoChat:

Who is today’s digital shopper?

Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It’s Time for Dinner: Improving the Quality of Our Food with the Internet of Everything

It’s almost the holiday season and it’s time for your customers to host that special dinner party, where they can make memories and share stories with loved ones. What if they could also share the story of where that holiday meal came from?

This is now possible using the power of the Internet of Everything (IoE). The ability to monitor and assure food quality, safety, and provenance is probably one of the fastest-emerging applications of IoE – and the fastest-growing differentiator for grocers. With IoE, even the minute details of products can be tracked from source to shelf.  Providing access to data across the entire agricultural food chain is sometimes now referred to as the “Internet of Food.”

Your party host can share with guests where the wheat was raised to produce the pasta, describe exactly where and how the olive oil was pressed, serve a salad that was bought at guaranteed optimal ripeness, and enjoy a glass of wine from the region of France visited by the host on his last trip to Europe.

Today, your customers are closer than ever to getting this extreme level of detail:

The pasta brand Barilla is already making this a reality. They have placed QR codes on select boxes of pasta and sauces. This code connects customers to a website that tells the story of the farms where the wheat was grown, the co-ops and factories where it was processed, and how much water and carbon dioxide were involved in production. To learn more about how Barilla did it, please read the press release.

Sensors also give retailers the ability to identify and monitor the freshest, healthiest produce. This is done using sensors that monitor the temperature and humidity of your products. You can measure concentrations of gases and even use a pocket-sized spectrum analyzer like the SCiO to determine chemical composition. Based on levels of ripeness, retailers can even develop dynamic pricing and promotional campaigns to react to changes in demand or ripening speed.

Through the Internet of Everything (IoE), retailers can break through information silos across supply chains and give customers transparency into the journey of their food, from field to fork. To see how other retailers are embracing digital transformation, see our customer stories.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Next Step in Your Store Analytics Strategy: Sensor Fusion

Retail has entered an era of unprecedented competition and accelerated evolution worldwide. Retailers in every category, both brick-and-mortar and online, face larger and more unpredictable threats than ever before, from digitization of goods and distributed manufacturing to autonomous, near-instant delivery, service robots, and online experiences with unprecedented realism, as disruptors such as virtual reality, 3D printing, drones and wearables take root.

While e-commerce growth is outstripping physical store expansion, the in-store experience is still a powerful part of the shopping experience. The Internet of Everything (IoE) offers new opportunities to make physical store shopping a better experience for the consumer and more lucrative for the retailer. By lighting up “dark assets,” retailers gains unprecedented insights into shopper behavior and operations, and can impact every piece of the value chain from merchandising and sales to workforce optimization, shopper experience and service.

Retailers light up dark assets by instrumenting physical stores with sensors and actuators such as Wi-Fi access points and shopping cart tags, beacons, video cameras, and even mechanical devices such as weight sensing shelves or humidity sensors. While these sensors themselves provide valuable new insights, often the greatest advantages are derived from combining multiple types of sensors and data through “sensor fusion.”

As just one example, pairing Wi-Fi location data showing a shopping path with point-of-sale data can highlight opportunities to improve conversion, where shoppers linger but don’t purchase. Likewise, combining video analytics of traffic entering the store with shelf sensing of the rate at which refrigerated goods are being picked up provides a more accurate forecast of staffing needs.

The business value of sensor fusion can be staggering – our studies show that a 1,500 store big box chain could save up to $100 million per year in cashier cost, at the same time as reducing checkout wait times by up to half – in fact, we predict that IoE could ultimately end up eliminating the checkout line. IoE also helps with the stubborn problem of on-shelf availability, where the largest retailers can lose more than $1 billion annually.

But that’s not all – sensor fusion is already being used to evaluate campaign effectiveness, optimize merchandising, and help suppliers and partners become the captains in their categories, as well as to reduce shrink and improve shopper and employee safety.

Please join us to learn more on Sept. 25 during my 45-minute webcast being held at 12:00 noon ET/9:00 am PT. It’s called “Why You Need Sensor Fusion in Your 2016 Retail Analytics Strategy,” and it’s jointly sponsored by Cisco and our partner RetailPoint, which offers POS solutions. I’ll speak for just half an hour about IoE in action in retail and the technologies enabling it, from video (the “supersensor”) to wearables to precision location and the single pane of glass for retail – the ultimate view of your business. Then we’ll spend 15-20 minutes in open discussion on how sensor fusion can help your store take the next step. Please register today!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Determining the Value of the Virtual Shopping Experience

We are increasingly hearing about the value of improving the shopping experience by adding virtual expertise to the store. As head of Cisco’s Retail & Hospitality practice, I frequently talk to customers who are exploring this concept – though what I mainly hear are questions! While many are interested in the idea, they are still trying figure out whether or not a virtual customer expert is going to add more revenue to their bottom line.

Putting a collaborative expert into the store – virtual or physical – can actually be critical to meeting the needs of the consumer, especially during the purchase of a high-priced product or for a purchase where it is very important to make the right decision. However, very often this level of expertise is not available in the aisle when the consumer is dwelling there. And yet, the presence of such an expert can be extremely important. For example:

  1. A mother is shopping for an over-the-counter decongestant late in the evening for her child, who is also taking medication for ADD. A pharmacist is not available, but getting the wrong medication could be life-threatening.
  2. A couple is buying a printer for their college-age daughter, who shares an apartment with three other students. They need a printer that can be networked so all four girls can print their assignments and research papers.
  3. A party host would like to purchase several cases of wine that complement the menu, but are not overwhelmingly expensive.
  4. A couple is browsing the latest assortment of home security devices, trying to make sense of what will work with their current network configuration.

Savvy retailers debate how to solve the problem of providing highly paid experts to be immediately available to consumers, without footing the bill for an employee who may be idle part of the time. Additionally, it may be necessary to provide a level of privacy while engaging the expert. The retailer’s quandary is how to attractively offer this service in a way to increase basket and justify this use of valuable selling space.

Forward-looking retailers recognize that this capability is part of providing a truly integrated omnichannel experience. Shoppers are no longer either in the store or online… they are both, and sometimes at the same time. Thanks to our mobile devices, consumers can research, compare prices, and shop with our mobile devices in the aisle. According to Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren, retailers need to adopt a “digical” strategy – a term coined by Bain & Company’s Darrell Rigby and Suzanne Tager – meaning the seamless integration of digital with physical retail. (For more, check out the article, “The Future of Retail Will Be Won or Lost in ‘Digical.’”)

In any channel in this digical world, retailers will lose revenue if they are unable to differentiate themselves by providing excellent value, combined with the appropriate amount of customer service. And here is where the virtualized experience can drive a new level of engagement for the brick-and-mortar store. Via video collaboration on a consumer’s mobile device, a kiosk display, online, or an associate’s tablet, shoppers looking for advice can easily connect with your centralized or outsourced pool of experts for immediate assistance. Let’s go back to the scenarios above:

  1. A QR code is posted on a sign that reads: “Photograph this sign with your mobile device and you can speak to one of our pharmacists on call 24×7.” The pharmacy service immediately calls the mother’s mobile phone number to discuss which medication will be safe for her ADD son.
  2. An associate in the printer aisle approaches the couple and boots up an expert session on his tablet to discuss feeds, speeds, and price points. This helps the family determine which printer will best fit their daughter’s needs.
  3. The party host approaches a kiosk to engage a wine expert. He enters the date and time of the party so that weather can be taken into account, the centerpiece menu items, and his desired price range. He then engages with a virtual expert who provides options as well as a special discount based on the number of cases. Additionally, he is offered a 50% discount on disposable wine goblets.
  4. As the couple browses an array of home security options, the retailer pushes a promotion to their mobile device: “If you would like a complementary home security assessment, follow this link to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.” This in-home expert then cross-sells and upsells products from a tablet in the home, and schedules an in-store meeting when products arrive to discuss installation.

When used in conjunction with brick and mortar, virtual in-store and online expertise complement the natural selling journey with consumers to fill an important gap in the omnichannel experience. Click here to learn more about Cisco’s thinking in this area, or contact me at

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,