The Digital Journey
By Dan Adam, CIO, Extreme Networks and Todd Nicholson, VP (Vertical Market Business Units), Extreme Networks
With increased competitive pressures on traditional brick and mortar retailers due to the rapidly growing online e-commerce channels, retailers must provide a high quality digital in-store experience to effectively engage, retain and support customers. At the same time, shoppers are leveraging data intensive smartphone technology to enhance their retail shopping experience, and expect seamless wireless networking connectivity in retail stores. These trends add complexity for retail IT departments to manage a high number of mobile devices in a large distributed network with a remote IT department.
Big data is impacting the retail industry in many ways. Understanding and ultimately predicting customer behavior to create a high quality in-store experience is the key to company-wide success. Through data collection, retailers can meet customer expectations by anticipating their shopping needs and habits, while making trips to the store more convenient and personal. It’s also important to maintain constant communication with your customers through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, in addition to blogs and other influencers. You should know your customers’ shopping habits, demographics, and preferences and use this information to apply real-time insights to customize products, services and customer interactions. It’s vital to secure reliable partnerships with companies that have the technology and ability to uncover this information. Retailers need to be guided through the technical processes of data mining, and how to use the collected data to tailor marketing efforts to meet customer preferences.
Running Business In The Midst Of Rising Tech Expectations
We try to maintain flexible business models that address evolving customer preferences and needs. As technology advances, customers expect more personalized experiences, and retailers are looking for holistic solutions (a one-stop shop for their infrastructure and guest portal needs). We developed an advanced analytics platform, which is priced specifically for brick and mortar retail locations, and ensures that retail organizations will know their customers inside and out. It’s clear to us that retailers are concentrating on the “omni-channel” marketing experience, so we responded by developing a solution that can link data collection across in-store, online and mobile channels to create seamless experiences for customers.
Today, customers are far more likely to shop across multiple channels before making a final purchase Decision
Revolutionizing Role of Technology in Crucial Business Segments
a) Reporting and Analytics (social, mobile, reporting)
Analytics provides a critical source of consumer intelligence to retailers. Accessibility to real-time analytics is even more important. If retailers are aware of their customers’ preferences for particular products, they can tailor their marketing strategies through targeted content and in-store offers. For example, a retailer can gain the insight to know that placing a specific product in a particular location within a store will result in more sales. That’s why it’s important to implement an analytics solution that tracks customer behaviors both on and offline. Pairing retail analytics with social media insights and purchase data can help retailers find new and faster ways to engage consumers.
b) E-Commerce (B2C, B2B, Mobile Commerce)
Today, customers are far more likely to shop across multiple channels before making a final purchase decision. With advanced analytics platforms, retailers can better comprehend the buying journey from beginning-to-end. This reveals critical insights about brand engagement levels, how shoppers navigate a retail store on and offline and exposure to products throughout the mobile store. In the past, retailers relied on intuition to make their marketing decisions, but now, data dictates commerce.
c) Core Operations (Store operations, merchandising, Infrastructure)
Data collection and insights enable businesses and retailers to make informed commercial decisions. These insights help create an understanding of consumer behavior, to help enable a high Quality of Experience (QoE) for consumers and aid in the improvement of overall store performance. Leveraging data and advanced analytics insight can drive sales revenue and also improve retail staff productivity. Additionally, data and analytics can help retailers uncover and predict trends and prepare for future demand cycles. If a product is expected to increase in demand, stores can prepare to accommodate shoppers by stocking more of that product.
d) Consumers leveraging mobile technology to enhance their in-store retail experience
With the necessary data available, retailers can provide a targeted message to each customer through the store’s retail mobile app. Once logged onto a mobile platform or a store’s wireless network, retailers can track the purchase behavior of every customer. These insights range from the amount of time spent in a store, to the number of repeat visits and many things in between.
CIOs as Unifiers
In a market place that’s becoming increasingly digital, CIOs are shifting focus from IT infrastructure to mobility, BYOD, analytics and the cloud. We are the unifiers between the business needs and technical capabilities of the company. CIOs must be more aligned with their company’s business and ensure IT solutions support the speed of the business and the market. The CIO of the past was most concerned with Infrastructure and Operations. Now we are shifting focus to also supporting the business with a digital transformation approach. There is a focused attention on growth and transformation. Technology is changing so rapidly, that we are constantly learning about the newest trends and platforms to stay up-to-date in support of the internal and external demands and preferences.