How Retailers Can Better Use IT for Holiday Sales: 10 Key Data Points

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2013-12-02 Print this article Print

It seems like holiday displays started going up much earlier than usual in U.S. stores such as Wal-mart, Kohl's, Best Buy, Costco and Target for the big retail season. There's good reason for this: The National Retail Foundation is predicting that U.S. holiday sales will rise a healthy 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion, and competition figures to be as keen as ever to land those consumer wins. Online retail sales are moving up in parallel fashion: projects online holiday sales to increase between 13 percent and 15 percent to as much as $82 billion during the months of November and December. This means that any product or service company that relies on the holiday season as its most important period of the year needs to be IT-prepared. This is about more than customer-facing Web apps and pages; it also means using IT to automate in-store stocking, aid the supply chain, improve security and connect employees so they can better serve customers. In this slide show, eWEEK and Cisco Systems offer guidelines to help retailers become more profitable this season and beyond.

  • How Retailers Can Better Use IT for Holiday Sales: 10 Key Data Points

    by Chris Preimesberger
    1 - How Retailers Can Better Use IT for Holiday Sales: 10 Key Data Points
  • Tap Into Dark Data Assets In-Store

    By connecting previously unused (or "dark") data assets from sources such as video surveillance cameras, social media, the Internet and customers' mobile signals to traditional retail data sets (such as transaction histories), retailers can begin to predict new trends and empower employees to improve profitability. For example, real-time analysis of shopper traffic in the store can help retailers better position their employees and deliver faster customer service.
    2 - Tap Into Dark Data Assets In-Store
  • Trade Value for Information

    Most shoppers are willing to share personal information in exchange for better, more personal service. According to recent Cisco customer research, about half (49 percent) of online shoppers are comfortable with retailers collecting personal information in exchange for more personalized recommendations and customer service.
    3 - Trade Value for Information
  • Offer More Personalized Service

    When customers freely share data about personal interests and needs with trusted brands, retailers can use the data to generate recommendations both online and in the physical store, leading to larger baskets and more revenue overall. In fact, Cisco customer research indicates that two-thirds of global consumers are comfortable receiving retail advice based on their location through their mobile device.
    4 - Offer More Personalized Service
  • Identify Events That Impact Customer Demand

    Predicting what customers want when they want it is becoming easier through real-time pairing of data. One example: pairing weather forecasts with real-time promotion and in-store merchandising. Is it a wet, humid day? There will be shopper interest, for instance, in certain types of hair care products.
    5 - Identify Events That Impact Customer Demand
  • Bring Wish Lists Online and In-Store

    Encourage customers to share their wish lists with Santa, friends and family through your brand—and make those lists easily accessible in the store. Think not only of kiosks, but of smartphone use—accessed either through the store app or a browser. 
    6 - Bring Wish Lists Online and In-Store
  • On-Demand Expert Advice

    Most shoppers today regularly research products online before walking into a store. And whether online or in the store, they're eager to speak with bona fide experts—the individuals who not only know what's new, but how to use it, wear it and put it together. Brands that offer easy, one-click access to experts online via instant messaging or video chat—or in the store through mobile phones or interactive screens—can provide enhanced services to draw in customers and win customer loyalty.
    7 - On-Demand Expert Advice
  • Drive Higher Levels of Stock Availability

    In-stock performance is one of the four most critical indicators to overall store performance. With automated intelligent stock management and shelf-sensing, stores can keep track of merchandise and order stock when inventory falls below a certain level—all without employee intervention.
    8 - Drive Higher Levels of Stock Availability
  • Make Your Supply Chain Transparent

    Leading retailers are now implementing systems that enable full visibility to product volume, location and condition—from one end of the supply chain to the other. This includes tracking materials from the source to the factory and through customs all the way to warehouse, delivery truck and store.
    9 - Make Your Supply Chain Transparent
  • Ease the Check-Out Process

    It's no surprise: Store-stressed consumers increasingly prefer the calm of at-home Internet shopping.  Checkout waiting is a big part of in-store frustration. Leading retailers are looking to implement more options across more channels, including self-service checkout, mobile payments and in-store online shopping that delivers items to the home. In fact, according to a Cisco customer experience report, 52 percent of buyers prefer self-service stations for faster checkout lines.
    10 - Ease the Check-Out Process
  • Maximize Your Manpower Through Connectivity

    Employees can access and share best practices, operational alerts and develop smart training and development tools from their mobile device, while giving managers new insights into efficient ways to allocate sales personnel to drive profits. In addition, employees can provide real-time feedback on product and promotion performance, leading to improved advertising, marketing and revenue.
    11 - Maximize Your Manpower Through Connectivity

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