To continue our “Five Questions” series, we spoke with Regional Vice President of Sales, Bob Swanson, about the evolution of the retail industry, expectations for the retail sector in the coming year, and some of the industry’s biggest trends.
How has the retail industry evolved since you started, and what changes do you expect to see over the next three to five years?
As a 25-year veteran of the retail industry, I have seen it change quite a bit.
Shopping is no longer limited to brick-and-mortar retail stores, and consumers now crave an omni-channel experience. Years ago, a customer might research a product using catalogs or mailers, but there's been a shift in power to the everyday consumer. Today's consumers now rely on the Internet to find information and already know what they want before stepping foot into the store.
Over the next three to five years, I believe mobile will continue to expand as a channel consumers leverage to research and purchase products. For retailers, it's important that all those channels (online, mobile, and physical stores) work together to present a seamless experience for consumers.
What did ARRIS show from the retail sector at CES?
Multiscreen was a popular topic at this year's CES (Jan 7-10). For us, it's about bringing the home networking experience to the next level to enable those experiences-making it easier to connect to the home network and ensuring that the network can support all the new connected devices…smartphones, laptops, gaming consoles and more. At the show, we had several connectivity solutions-such as modems and gateways-that are the focal point of this new connected home ecosystem.
In your opinion, what are two to three of the biggest trends in the retail industry?
The largest trend centers around reinventing the customer experience by delivering a seamless retail experience.
There are three driving forces behind that: mobility, customer-centric support, and the online experience. In addition to the use of mobile apps and online resources, customers also expect personalization when they shop. They don't want to just be a number. Therefore, retailers are looking at more service-oriented products. All of these channels come together to create an overall customer impression.
Another key trend is customer data and analytics to personalize marketing. Retailers today have a better understanding of their consumers' needs and shopping behaviors, which enables companies to adapt sales approaches and preference to provide a personalized retail experience for individual consumers.
What should the industry do to hire and inspire more people to drive the future of home networking and enhance the overall user experience?
There is pressure from Over-the-Top (OTT) video content providers that should be embraced. The whole ecosystem is evolving to a "TV anywhere" concept. Consumers want any video, anytime, anywhere, and on any device. But these multiscreen experiences rely on the network to deliver a smooth, fast, and easy-to-use experience.
The more we showcase how these innovations drive tomorrow’s problem solvers—whether that’s creating and operating a new business, researching insights for new technologies, or enabling people to see things from across the world online that they might normally not be able to see without a reliable connection—the easier it’ll be to find savvy people to work in this particular industry.
So, what’s next in retail for ARRIS?
In the near-term, we continue to invest in our retail business, with a focus on expanding our home networking presence—through new products like cable modems, gateways, and MoCA adapters.
Further out, we have an opportunity to build on that investment by bringing other product categories to retail with guidance from our Service Provider customers. This addresses the growing CE trend of home networking devices being sold at retail and becoming self-install (vs. sold and installed via service providers). We can see this trend possibly evolving into a hybrid retail model, which gives consumers greater flexibility to choose their home networking equipment and have the option for either self install or operator install with device management still supported through the operator network.
Our unmatched retail presence in the retail modem/gateway market, along with our outstanding relationships with global service providers, uniquely positions ARRIS to deliver this next stage for the industry.
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