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Cisco Survey Finds Acceptance of Tech-Aided Marketing in Stores

Cisco Survey Finds Acceptance of Tech-Aided Marketing in Stores
By Barry Levine

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Cisco also looked into consumer reactions to specific technology-based experiences in stores, which it labeled mashups. Those looked at by Cisco included immersive experiences, product viewers, shelf help, and personal mobile shoppers, and about a third to a half of those surveyed by Cisco responded favorably to each one.

Cross-channel shopping. That's the name a new Cisco survey gives to technology-based experiences in brick-and-mortar stores.

The technology experiences include in-store kiosks, store-related content and apps on mobile devices, and other approaches. The survey, released Monday, looked at the influence that in-store digital content has on consumer buying decisions, how shoppers engage in cross-channel shopping, and how customers use technology while shopping.

'A New Way to Shop'

The survey uses the term "mashups" to describe such experiences. Previously, "mashup" has most often referred to one set of data or content being superimposed over another, such as layering all pizza parlors over a given section of a Google map. In this case, Cisco calls these shopping experiences mashups, because virtual and real world experiences are combined to create what Cisco called "a new way to shop."

In short, the survey found that digital content in real-world retail outlets, at the point of sale, triggered consumer buying. For instance, 19 percent of U.S. respondents were influenced to make a purchase after receiving inspiration from digital triggers. Of those surveyed, 30 percent use online videos to choose the right product or service, and 51 percent currently use or will use an in-store kiosk for self-service.

Additionally, the report found that 40 percent will use video screens or video walls to make a buying decision, 40 percent will use or are interested in using a mobile phone for related, in-store digital content, and 35 percent will use tablets for that purpose.

The study is linked to Cisco's demonstrations of in-store technology experiences at the National Retail Federation 2012 show, now taking place in New York.

Immersive Experiences, Personal Mobile Shopper

While kiosks and other such technology have been in retailers for some time, there is now an explosion of in-store content specifically intended for mobile devices, and most consumers are comfortable with e-commerce online experiences. The study found that consumers will "hop from one channel" of information to another throughout a given shopping trip, in order to find the best deal.

Cisco also looked into consumer reactions to specific technology-based experiences. These include immersive experiences, product viewers, shelf help, and personal mobile shoppers, and about a third to a half of those surveyed responded favorably to each one.

In the study, an immersive experience means virtually "trying on" clothing and accessories in front of a full-length screen. The product viewer is a large, interactive display which allows a user to combine clothing choices, see customer ratings, and receive directions to the product inside a store.

Shelf help provides interactive displays on a shelf or through a mobile device, enabling expert advice or even video-chatting with a remote expert. With personal mobile shopper functionality, a customer receives a personal greeting on a mobile device upon entering a store, along with customized offers based on previous transactions.

Laura DiDio of Information Technology Intelligence Corp. said that "the lines of demarcation" between business and consumer usage of digital content "have blurred way beyond recognition." She predicted that, since consumers have "gotten very comfortable" with digitally based shopping experiences, the use of digital content within physical retailers will likely increase.

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