Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Why shopping got so frustrating, and how Cisco Retail is working to simplify it

February 8, 2017

In days of old (way back in the early 2000s), if I wanted to buy something, I had two choices. I either headed on down to the high street (or out of town retail park) and took my chances with what was on the shelves or out back. Or I powered up my laptop (pre-smart phones and tablets of course) and hit Amazon or one of relatively few e-tailers, and waited several days for my goods to arrive. If they arrived at all. But shopping was simple and I was a happy shopper.

Fast forward to today. I can buy pretty much anything right from my iPhone, from everywhere in the world, and choose how, and where, it’s delivered. If I head down to the high street, I can collect my online orders in-store if I’ve got actual physical shopping to do. I can get instant price comparisons and get cash back, reward points, money off vouchers. So why does shopping feel so much more like an ordeal these days?

I’ll give you an example. The last time I bought luggage was at least a decade ago. A wheel fell off, I waited until the weekend, went into a shop and looked at the stock they had and picked the one I liked best that happened to have some money off. Simple.

This time? Anything but. I expect more today, but often seem to get less as a customer from the retail experience.

Here’s a snapshot of my thought process for finding a replacement ahead of a recent trip:

  • Browsing options online from home. Are there any reviews? Is this the best price?
  • Is there a voucher available? Is it online only, or in store only? Are there any restrictions (excluded brands), minimum spend requirements?
  • Order online or go to a store? If I order online, what are the delivery options? But I need it before next week. Can I check delivery in-store before making the trip?

I was literally agonising over buying a suitcase!! Feeling fraught, I headed down to my local shopping centre and looked out for the options I’d researched online. After finally locating the luggage department and circumventing store assistants that seemed to know less about the products than I did (but did want to sell me a credit card), I identified a winner.  With 20% off the ticket price that day and in-store only, and nice tally of reward points, I was pretty pleased.

Until I got home, connected to Wi-Fi and saw the same retailer helpfully emailed me a 25% off voucher for the item left in my online shopping bag. And another offered me the same item even cheaper. And a department store in the same complex pushed a sale notification via the app I have downloaded but restricted to Wi-Fi which, if I’d have seen in time (the shopping centre guest Wi-Fi is a joke so I never bother connecting), I’d have taken advantage of while I was there (I love a bargain). Then I was absolutely raging!

What this example shows is how online and physical customer journeys are completely disjointed today, and retailers need to take action to fix this and create a single digital customer journey, where channels complement rather than compete.

So where does Cisco come in? The foundation for that single digital customer journey is having a 360 degree lens, which can only be achieved through collaborative, connected and smart technology.

We’re working with our retail customers to make sure their physical stores recognise their customers and can therefore tailor and personalise their experiences. We do this using a secure, flexible network coupled with devices including beacons and sensors, that are overlaid with powerful analytics and automation capabilities that make light work of IoT management and big data processing to make their digital strategies a reality.

This is where it all becomes simple again. When retailers can reliably identify, and interact with their customers, the ‘where’ or ‘how’ of shopping no longer matters – the store becomes an ‘experience’ worth leaving the house for and one that drives brand loyalty.

You can learn more about digitising the customer experience at our Digital Retail Solutions website. But if you’re attending Cisco Live EMEA in Berlin on February 20-24, then do one, or all, of the following:

  • Visit our Digital Business Transformation Booth at the World of Solutions
  • Register for the session ‘Digitizing the Customer Journey’ Thurs, Feb. 23 @ 1:15-2:15 pm
  • Check out our customer panel on ‘Transforming Customer Interactions with Digitisation’ Wed, Feb 22 @ 2.30-4pm
Leave a comment


  1. Great Post.

  2. Great job Tina!!

  3. Shopping just keeps getting better and better. Great example.