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How small retailers can improve customer and employee experience this holiday season

Just as small businesses survive the COVID storm, they now face supply chain challenges and inflation rates that are bound to cause trouble for anyone’s holiday season.

But as we headed into the holidays, light was on the horizon. You may have heard of Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday. However, we at Cisco prefer holidays – #SmallBusinessSaturday.

This Saturday, November 27th, it’s time to make your holiday list and double check it, go to local small businesses to help make those wishes a reality. #SmallBusinessSaturday is a campaign launched by American Express in the United States in 2010. Over the past 11 years, Consumer Reports reported that nearly $ 140 billion has been spent on supporting local businesses in small business Saturday events.

Ayear with a difference

From record business closures to record-breaking small business growth (24.3% growth in start-ups in 2020, according to the US Census Bureau), the past 18 months have been unprecedented for businesses small businesses, especially retail businesses.

We know that running a small business can be challenging. But running a small retail business during a global pandemic, with increasing economic and supply chain uncertainties, has added several layers of complexity to an already tense environment.

So how are homeowners in your community responding to the challenge? Help them address these needs by innovating and using technology and more. Whether it’s switching to online sales or upgrading infrastructure to accommodate growth, we’ve seen and helped many small businesses and organizations adapt and accelerate the transition to our current business environment.

Small retail businesses have unique needs to address. Finding the right technology can sometimes feel like a Simplistic task. But Cisco understands the needs of small retailers and can help them quickly identify their most pressing needs to better accelerate digital transformation and improve customer experience this holiday season.

If small retailers are out shopping on #SmartBusiness Day, what answers will they have on their holiday wishlist? Below are examples of technologies that can help them continue to grow their business models well beyond this holiday season.

Capture all sales with e-commerce

Online shopping is as popular as ever, especially with non-contact transactions and much needed kerbside promotions. Brick-and-mortar stores that adapted their business models to include e-commerce solutions survived the worst of the pandemic and expanded their operations. In fact, 49% of small business owners with an online store saw sales increase in 2020, even during the pandemic.

Using a combination of web solutions, cloud collaboration tools and robust security offerings, retailers can best take advantage of every possible opportunity and sale. Look for technology partners like Cisco that can help build e-commerce platforms and secure networks to integrate payment functions, as well as develop applications to integrate click and collect services, and manage online operations.

Closing gaps with cybersecurity solutions

All of this online activity, especially online shopping, can make small retailers more vulnerable to data breaches and cyber attacks. According to the Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, 43% of data breaches involve SMEs. Those odds are not that great, especially when you consider that 83 percent of SMBs are not financially ready to recover from a cyber attack.

While it is easy to look at these statistics and get overwhelmed, securing your business-critical systems can be a simple task. First, decide what solutions you need to defend. For retailers, these may include point of sale (POS) systems; email and VPN contacts for communications management; and on-site store security solutions. Finally, don’t forget to protect the entire network from cyber attacks.

Identifying your critical infrastructure gives you a clear hierarchy of where to start your cyber security program. A comprehensive understanding of your retail business needs – and working with technology partners like Cisco – can help you create the best security infrastructure.

Improve customer and employee experience

The shift to more online experiences also requires a shift in customer and employee engagement. Retailers have adapted to new ways of communicating with customers – including virtual consultations, social media, loyalty programs and targeted marketing. The added benefit of these new methods is that they provide more frequent communication than in-store visits, highlighting the importance of finding the right digital solution for your business.

Maintaining inventory integrity has become a top priority for employees. Navigate the disruptive supply chain at the top of the store

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