Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Rethinking retail – lessons from the top

March 6, 2015

Last Thursday the future of the retail industry was in the spotlight at an excellent event hosted by PurpleWiFi. Experts from some of the high street’s biggest brands shared their vision of what lies ahead for the retail sector, all in the sophisticated surroundings of the Harvey Nichols fifth floor bar.

Former BestBuy CEO Bob Willett kicked off proceedings by declaringIt’s time for the retail industry to revise, reimagine and reinvent what they do” as customers discover the connected world and become increasingly dem
anding about what they want.

Retailers that amalgamate online and in store offerings are seeing the most success. Bob cited John Lewis as “the UK’s multichannel champion” for providing unparalleled customer experience despite a relatively small number of physical stores. Those still sitting solely in the physical retail world, he warned, will be “left behind”.

“We know more about customers than any time in history, but we’re not using that information terribly well,” he continued. “We’re not using it to provide the people that face customers every day with the information they need to do a better job in satisfying those customers.”

Using this wealth of data and turning it into customer insight that helps support a personalised customer experience, he concluded, should be the cornerstone of any customer-focused strategy.


Next up was Chrid Johnston, Customer Insight Manager at footwear retailer Schuh, who explained that as mobile search traffic continues to inch closer to overtaking desktop search, the need for retailers to provide rich experiences across smartphone and tablet devices is more important than ever.

She shared some of the brand’s hits and misses in using technology to engage customers, before detailing how WiFi has become fundamental to the brand’s customer engagement strategy.

“Our experience has taught us to leave the technology to the customer,” she explained, detailing numerous failed attempts to install touch-screen systems that customers just didn’t touch. “What they want is information on demand, and that’s what our WiFi networks offer, along with the opportunity for us to interact with them in a meaningful way.”

Schuh’s in store WiFi networks enable customers to compare prices as they shop, browse product reviews online, access unique discounts and even entertain their not-so enthusiastic shopping companions. This multichannel service has enabled Schuh to cater to every kind of customer – even the ‘self-serve’ ones who don’t want to interact with staff in store.

“It’s all about making the customer experience as easy as possible and marrying online and offline customers,” she concluded. Wise words indeed as we continue the journey into a new connected retail landscape.

We’ll be sharing more insight from this great event soon – keep your eyes peeled!



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