Tagged with 'cisco store tech lab'

Retail Tech Deep-Dive: Meraki MT Sensors

Retail Tech Deep-Dive: Meraki MT Sensors

Join us as we dive deeper into Cisco and Cisco partner technology deployed at the Cisco Store! We asked Angela Huang (Product Manager, Meraki MT Sensors) to discuss how the sensors are used in the Cisco Store and the larger retail industry.

How do Meraki sensors improve a retailer and shopper’s in-store and/or virtual shopping experience? What problem are they solving?

Our Meraki MT sensors are designed to support healthy, safe spaces. They do everything from monitoring air quality, temperature, power usage and even access. And when it comes to the shopping experience — particularly in-store — providing a safe and healthy space is even more important. We see our sensors help in three primary ways:

  1. Enhancing shopper comfort: The more comfortable a shopper is in-store, the more motivated they are to engage deeply with its products (and people!) and ultimately purchase. Comfort can mean everything, from temperature to humidity to air quality, and that’s exactly what our sensors can easily detect and alert retailers to.
    One MT sensors customer, SAMSØE SAMSØE, is a Danish retail company with 60+ stores across Europe. They’ve set up MT14 indoor air quality sensors, using MV cameras as a gateway, to ensure that the temperature of their stories is precisely at 22°C, as they found that customer engagement is the highest at this temperature. Stores that are too cold discourage customers from trying on apparel, and on the flip side, stores that are too hot or humid cause shoppers to leave before they’ve had a chance to see the full store inventory. By using this solution that incorporates MT sensors, SAMSØE SAMSØE was able to make data-driven decisions and improve customer engagement.
    Because our sensors are cloud-managed from our Meraki dashboard, retailers can not only act quickly and remotely, but they can view historical data to understand trends and adapt their stores accordingly. 

  2. Protecting sensitive inventory: Some organizations require precise in-store environments for their assets to remain usable and compliant, like grocery stores or food and beverage retailers. Our sensor can automate monitoring and alerting to temperature fluctuations, so retailers know when something is wrong and can have a historical log. There’s no longer a need to manually check each fridge to ensure they are compliant with regulations.
  3. Supporting sustainability: Operating physical stores requires a lot of energy — keeping lights on, running internet, connecting all the smart devices, and more. Our sensors can help monitor and control power consumption, particularly during off-hours. Retailers can automatically power off devices such as display screens when stores are closed so they can reduce energy waste and, ultimately, operational cost. Even in our San Francisco Meraki office, we found that we could save thousands of dollars a year by powering off just a few Webex screens during off-hours!
Meraki MT14

What would you like people to know about Meraki sensors when they see them in action at the Cisco Store Tech Lab?

At first glance, they should almost be invisible — they were designed to blend seamlessly into any environment. But, if you do spot them, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Yes, they are as easy to deploy as they seem. And they connect seamlessly to our entire Cisco Meraki portfolio. You don’t need to be a tech expert to set these up.
  2. They’re efficient and don’t need to be changed out frequently. Our battery life can last up to 10 years!
  3. Part of the magic of our sensors is our alerting capabilities, and we offer flexible options across SMS, email, push, and webhook.

How do you envision Meraki sensors being used in retail environments in the future?

In the future, stores will be able to search for and digest their sensor data more easily. Given that many stores tend to have multiple retail locations, which can sometimes be spread across different cities or states, it is important for store owners to be able to quickly look across their locations and identify where there are issues. We plan to release additional, more advanced reporting features that will summarize information in the most helpful way, including surfacing information such as alerting MTs, length of time of alerts, etc. This will help direct a store owner’s time and attention to stores that need it the most.

What do you think will be a priority for shoppers in the next 5 years?

  1. Speed and convenience: Shoppers have more options than ever with regards to channels to purchase from. They want to be able to access, experience, and purchase products quickly.
  2. Customization: With so many purchasing channels now available for customers, they will expect that the products they see will be customized to their preferences. Sharing products with shoppers that are aligned as well as possible to precisely what they are looking for will help them feel that it is a good shopping experience and will encourage them to return to that store in the future.
  3. Ethics: Consumer awareness and desire to put their dollars towards products that reduce harm is growing. A study found that 82% of shoppers want brands to embrace sustainable and people-first practices, and three quarters of Gen Z shoppers cite that sustainability is more important than the brand name when making purchasing decisions. Stores can respond by assessing their value chain and ensuring that they are supporting ethical practices at each step, as well as sharing externally what they are doing to support sustainability.

Likewise, what do you think will be a priority for retailers in the next 5 years?

There will likely be close monitoring of physical environments to make the in-store experience as personalized as possible for shoppers. Secondly, retailers will begin to prioritize solutions that save store managers’ and associates’ time, so they can focus their attention on providing the best possible customer experience. And lastly, there may be a focus on differentiating the store from others to grab shopper mindshare.

Interested in learning more about Meraki MT sensors? Visit our page or request a demo now.

Retail Tech Deep-Dive: CAE Labs

Retail Tech Deep-Dive: CAE Labs

Join us as we dive deeper into Cisco and Cisco partner technology deployed at the Cisco Store! We asked Ali McKeand (Chief Technologist for Innovation at CAE Labs) to discuss how their technology boosts sustainability efforts at the Cisco Store and larger retail environments. His work is focused on Cisco-based innovation and programmability, and he has been working with Cisco and various technologies over the last two decades. 

How do CAE Labs improve a retailer’s and shopper’s in-store and/or virtual shopping experience? What problem is it solving?  

We want to expedite how quickly we can deliver the value of new technology to both the retailer and their end customers. CAE Labs’ innovation enables and provides capabilities that deliver rapid adoption of Cisco technology, which in turn drives down project costs and time. We’ve built up deep domain knowledge and experience over the last three decades in retail and can effectively provision a new store location of Cisco technology in a couple of seconds rather than what traditionally might have taken numerous hours.

Buyers are far more conscious about the products and services they purchase, especially with brands that are driving decarbonization. Utilizing powerful programmatic platforms, such as Cisco Meraki (Cisco Networking Cloud), and solutions such as WiserWatts from CAE Labs help to optimize network services to only be delivered during core operating hours, powering them off for the remaining parts of the day. It really is making an impact in the sustainability space: so far, we are saving over 10,000 kWh of energy waste per 30 days across our customer base and saving many metric tons of carbon emissions. 

CAE Labs dashboard

What would you like people to know about WiserWatts when they see it in action at the Cisco Store Tech Lab?  

I’d love people to know how the blend of Cisco technology with API programmability, through solutions such as WiserWatts, can lead to a much more carbon-friendly, energy-conscious approach to powering the Cisco Store’s technology – only when it’s needed during core hours as opposed to a typical always-on approach.  

We saw WiserWatts showcased at Cisco Live: through the combination of its use with smart power controllers (Meraki MT40), power consumption can be tracked and device usage can be live scheduled, supporting the retailer to only power ‘on’ their devices during core operational hours. WiserWatts has also been implemented in a live environment at Cisco’s San Jose campus, realizing a 66% reduction in power consumption.  

More than anything, I’d want people to see how we’ve been able to optimize the network at scale through refined automation. When it comes to decarbonization and saving on energy waste, there’s thousands of ways to do that, and most of those are quite difficult: not just to implement, but more importantly to track and measure and report on what’s been saved.  

But our work at the Cisco Store showed that there are some easy-to-obtain use cases, such as powering off PoE (Power over Ethernet) drawing devices that aren’t needed 24/7. Another use case is being able to automate the turning off and on of smart power controllers [Meraki MT40] every day; that goes way outside of just the lens of networking. Anything that connects to a standard power cable (C13 plug) can be influenced and we can eliminate that energy waste, which then leads to saving even more on overall run costs or operating expenses and removes carbon emissions. It’s a great opportunity for Brian [Domine, the Cisco Store Tech Lab manager] and the Cisco Store team to be able to benchmark what the energy consumption is in that space for the first time.  

Ali McKeand (CAE Labs, center) and Brian Domine and Kaleigh Bisconti (Cisco Store) at Cisco Live EMEA 2024

How do you envision CAE Labs’ technology being used in retail environments in the future? 

The areas we’re focused on are looking at how we provide retailers with service assurance when navigating their store infrastructure to the cloud – certainly Cisco Networking Cloud for Meraki and Catalyst devices. A lot of the capabilities we’ve been developing over the years have been around service assurance and sustainability, as well as refined automation and orchestration, which are looking at how we can make changes at scale with a store-as-code approach.  

We’ve got great co-innovation experience with a large national retailer in the UK over the past 5+ years, where, for example, we were able to execute a change at scale across thousands of locations within an hour; it would have traditionally taken them around 3 months to implement such change and at a much higher cost. From an e-commerce business perspective, that rapid change helped them onboard new business partnerships far quicker with the likes of Amazon and Deliveroo. 

We take this hyper Cisco focused programmatic codified approach to be able to manage, maintain and deliver value to large or small store estates. CAE Labs is trying to productize that approach, making it really easily accessible to consume and adopt.

That’s where I see our API-integrated value deliver at its best for customers: large multi-site customers that can be retail, but can equally benefit healthcare and schools with hundreds of locations. In retail, it’s about leveraging platforms like Cisco Meraki that help retailers adjust and adapt to forever-changing challenges as well as innovate quicker; the key to this is having a unified networking solution and foundation throughout all locations that enables a programmatic API-first approach. 

What do you think will be a priority for shoppers in the next 5 years? 

Frictionless experiences. We’ve seen that over the last few years with several retailers we’ve worked with: they’re spending significant amounts of energy, time, and money figuring out what great looks like in the form of frictionless consumption. One example is that self-checkout experiences have continually expanded, and a lot of our retailers have far fewer manned checkout lanes. We’re figuring out new ways in how we can leverage technology such as smart cameras and IoT sensors to improve the overall customer journey – from when they come in to when they leave – and we want to see how we can remove those friction points that hinder their experience.  

Over the next 5 years, I can foresee there being less human presence in store estates, and more refinement on how we can get from A to B as quickly as possible using technology as the enabler. The Cisco Meraki platform is one of the best networking platforms out there to do that, as it combinates in solving many problems for retailers outside of just pure network connectivity like other competing vendors.   

Likewise, what do you think will be a priority for retailers in the next 5 years? 

Simplification of their technology stacks. Retail has gotten complex over the last five years, and especially over the pandemic a lot of ‘temp-tech’ was deployed to solve a pertinent timely problem, but not necessarily fully utilized and adopted. The bedrock and foundation of any retailer is the underlying infrastructure on which different colleague and customer experiences (and other retail technologies) operate and layer on top. The dawn of more easily attainable automation potentially helps this simplification as well.

We also can’t ignore security. The programmatic, scalable, and secure architecture from Cisco has been the winning platform for a lot of retail projects that we’ve done over the past decade.  

Interested in learning more about CAE Labs? Visit our page or reach out now. 

Take a Cisco Store Tech Lab Tour

Cisco Store Tech Lab at Cisco Live EMEA 2024

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about what the Cisco Store Tech Lab looks like on the road, here’s your chance! The Cisco Store team opened a travel store at Cisco Live EMEA, held in Amsterdam from February 5-9, 2024.

First, some numbers

Around 7,100 visitors came through the Cisco Store, and 396 attendees participated in 23 tours. Tour attendees (including senior network engineers, technical solutions architects, and heads of IT) represented a wide range of industries and companies, including Adidas, Airbus Defence and Space, Amazon, Apple, BMW Group, Fujifilm, H&M, Hugo Boss, and Sephora.

Cisco Store Tech Lab tour group

Tour stops

We walked attendees through key highlights of our Tech Lab, demonstrating how multiple products can work together. We started at our grid wall (dubbed the Triforce of Wisdom), displaying Meraki cameras and sensors, RFID tags, and more, including Meraki’s latest launch, the MV13 and MV33 smart cameras.

The Triforce of Wisdom also included the Meraki MT40 smart power controller: twelve of these controllers were wired throughout the store to allow us to baseline our power consumption at the show, in partnership with CAE Labs’ WiserWatts platform. We have similarly baselined our power consumption at our San Jose store, allowing us to schedule our power and thus reducing our energy consumption by 66%! Next year, we plan to schedule our power at this show to compare energy and cost savings. WiserWatts also allows us to easily see which of our products are at end-of-life and makes suggestions on how to operate more sustainably.

Triforce of Wisdom tech grid wall

Our Tech Lab expert Brian Domine then showed attendees how they can use our Cisco Store Xplorer app on their smartphones to interact with augmented reality hotspots around the store to learn more about various tech products.

Visitors had the opportunity to scan a QR code to interact with a chatbot powered by Webex Connect, allowing them to ask questions about the Cisco Store and the Tech Lab and escalate their questions to a live agent if necessary.

Webex Connect chatbot

Visitors were then brought through our ship-to-home kiosk, featuring four iPads remotely managed on Meraki MDM. This allowed us to have full control over the tablets regardless of their location. A perimeter was also set up around the kiosk to alert us immediately if any of the iPads were removed from their docks, thus ensuring full security of our store without requiring human security guards.

Ship-to-home kiosk

The next stop was our partner VusionGroup’s electronic shelf labels, placed throughout the store. Because our travel stores employ temporary staff, they had to be able to easily find and restock merchandise. By inputting an item’s product ID, the corresponding shelf label would flash to allow for easy identification at the back-of-house, thus streamlining store operations. These labels require no additional infrastructure: they connect automatically to Meraki access points.

Setting up electronic shelf labels

Moving further on into the store, visitors got a glimpse of how all the digital signage was managed by Wipro VisionEDGE. By simply clicking an MT30 smart button, our store staff would be able to change our screens to a store open / store closed state. We also demonstrated how Meraki Display, an Apple TV app, livestreamed the store’s camera feeds onto one display without requiring additional backend access, allowing our staff to easily monitor live feeds without having to log into a dashboard.

See some merchandise you like? Visitors could take advantage of our smart fitting rooms. Every item in the store was RFID-tagged, so a customer simply had to bring the item into the smart fitting room to see the product appear on the screen and request different sizes.

Smart fitting room screen

We then demonstrated one of our newest solutions, powered by our partner Cogniac. When a customer picked up a Sustainability Campaign or DevNet T-shirt, we trained Cogniac on the Meraki MV63 camera facing the shirts to trigger Wipro VisionEDGE to change the adjacent screen. Customers could then immediately see information about the item they had just picked up on the screen (for instance, the Sustainability Campaign video).

Almost done! Next, visitors saw how we use EVERYANGLE in conjunction with Meraki cameras to analyze customer data in the store, including demographic breakdown, customer sentiment, dwell time in specific areas, and queue counting to ensure checkout lines do not grow too long. This information gives us valuable insight into who exactly is coming through our store and how we can best cater to them. We also showed visitors VusionGroup’s Captana dashboard, which maps our products on the shelves and notifies us if anything is out of stock, as well as monitors our store’s planogram compliance, thus optimizing our store staff and merchandisers’ time.

Wrapping up

At the end of the tour, visitors could scan a QR code to participate in a Slido poll asking them about the most interesting technology they saw that day. Participants’ answers were added to a word cloud, giving us a better idea into what caught their attention! Results from the poll indicated that the Meraki sensors and smart cameras detecting proximity seemed especially interesting to our attendees.

The Cisco Store is committed to powering an inclusive future for all. We set up a donation tower at the entrance of the store, allowing passersby to drop in tokens: every token represented a €1 donation to the organization of their choice.

Donation tower

Our next travel store will be at Cisco Live Global in Las Vegas from June 2-6, 2024. We will be setting up an 8,000 square foot store with 24 Tech Lab tours, estimating 500+ participants from 275+ companies.

Interested in demonstrating your technology? There is still time to set up an activation with us! Please reach out — we’d love to hear your ideas.

In the meantime, check out our full tour walkthrough on our Cisco Store Tech Lab YouTube channel, and we hope to see you in-person soon!

Retail Tech Deep-Dive: Meraki MV Smart Cameras

Retail Tech Deep-Dive: Meraki MV Smart Cameras

Join us as we dive deeper into Cisco and Cisco partner technology deployed at the Cisco Store! We asked Shashank Nalla (Product Manager, Meraki MV Smart Cameras) to discuss how the cameras are used in the Cisco Store and the larger retail industry. 

How do Meraki cameras improve a retailer and shopper’s in-store and/or virtual shopping experience? What problem are they solving? 

MV Smart Cameras aren’t just cameras—they’re like a virtual assistant to make a shopper’s experience safe, easy, and tailored to them, and to help retailers around the world provide the best shopping experience possible. We see our smart cameras help in three ways:

  1. Deterring theft and bad actors: With real-time monitoring, high-quality video, and a variety of lens and mounting options, our cameras ensure that no corner goes undetected. Shoppers and retailers can feel safe knowing that every part of the store is being actively monitored.
  2. Optimizing the shopper experience: There’s a lot that goes into the entirety of a shopper’s experience, and it starts from the moment they walk in the door to the minute they purchase and leave. Our cameras offer real-time analytics and heat maps—that can easily be viewed within our dashboard—so retailers can analyze traffic patterns and optimize their store layouts. Retailers can figure out what flow works best or where they should place certain products for special promotions or sales. And let’s not forget about the check-out lines: with real-time insights, our cameras can help retailers understand and manage their queues to reduce crowding and wait times.
  3. Better personalized offering and marketing: Retailers not only want their customers to enjoy shopping in-store, but they also want to make sure they offer the products their customers actually want. By analyzing video recordings, retailers can better understand customer behavior such as dwell time, popular areas of the store, and conversion rates. They’ll get to know their customers’ preferences and tailor their offerings accordingly. But it doesn’t stop there. They can also better tailor their marketing to each specific customer through footage and snapshot analysis.  For example, if a customer spends a lot of time in the electronics section, the retailer can send them promotions or recommendations related to electronics. 

What would you like people to know about Meraki cameras when they see them in action at the Cisco Store Tech Lab? 

Out of the box, they’re smart, powerful, and easy to use and manage. Beyond our high-quality video, sleek design, and AI capabilities, they’re all cloud-managed and easy to set up. Whether you’re putting up 1 camera or 100 cameras, our cameras are designed to get up and running fast. And with the power of cloud, you can quickly and easily see your footage in the Meraki dashboard. But what makes our cameras even more powerful is the ability to connect to our ecosystem of partners to build custom integrations around computer vision, physical access control, and more. It truly becomes whatever you want it to be.  

How do you envision Meraki cameras being used in retail environments in the future? 

We’re already seeing these trends, but we envision our cameras being used in 3 major ways:

  1. Customer analytics: Our cameras can capture a lot and, with more data, the more insights retailers can grab. We know how important it is for retailers to really know their customers and we know that the more personalized a shopping experience, the more likely it is that customers will make purchases. We see our cameras really helping to provide retailers with valuable information to create those personalized experiences. Analyzing demographics, dwell time, check-out lanes, foot traffic—this is all data that can provide retailers with a lot of insight into what goes on in their stores.  
  2. Inventory management: Cameras don’t always have to be used for tracking people; they can and should be used to track physical assets. Utilizing a lot of the same monitoring, alerts, and analytics, we see our cameras being used to provide real-time visibility on shelves and warehouse inventory so they can alert when things are low or where things are moving to and from.
  3. Loss prevention: Cameras are key to providing a safe environment, especially in retail. We know our cameras will continue to be the core piece of store safety. High-quality video, 24/7 footage, video retention—these are all things that our cameras can provide and what we see retailers using every day to help prevent theft of all kinds. 

What do you think will be a priority for shoppers in the next 5 years? 

I think there are 4 main areas shoppers will care about:  

  1. Convenience: Whether you’re shopping online or in-store, shoppers want it to be quick and easy to find and buy what they want.
  2. Personalization: Along the lines of convenience, I think shoppers will want to cut out the noise. It can feel overwhelming to wade through all the options, so providing them with a narrow scope that we know is within their preference will make an easier and better experience.
  3. Seamless experience across online and brick and mortar: A lot of shopping is done online nowadays, but brick and mortar stores still offer something online stores cannot: the ability to physically see, touch, and experience whatever it is you want to buy. But they must go together. Shoppers might go online first and then decide to stop by in-store, or maybe they stop by a store and then go check online if what they’re looking for isn’t in stock. That should all feel like it’s part of one journey. Not two different experiences.
  4. Value for their money: With rising costs, shoppers continue to look for the “best deal”. This doesn’t mean that they’re looking for cheap options. It means they’re doing their research on the best option they can afford.  

Likewise, what do you think will be a priority for retailers in the next 5 years?

With the continued innovation around AI, we believe retailers will focus on providing smarter, more immersive shopper experiences while also continuing to optimize their operations, especially with the rising costs of theft and inventory. They may also be relying more on data and AI to optimize day-to-day operations and better understand customer behavior to enhance and personalize their experiences.  

Interested in learning more about Meraki MV Smart Cameras? Visit our page or request a demo now.  

Introducing the Cisco Store Lookbook

Introducing the Cisco Store Lookbook

80% of the Cisco Store's merchandise powers an inclusive future for all -- but what does that mean?

What's new at the Cisco Store?

The Cisco Store has just launched a brand-new Spring 2024 Lookbook per region (AMER, EMEA, and APJC). In these quarterly lookbooks, we will delve further into how our merchandise powers an inclusive future, as well as our latest collections, curated style guides by our very own Cisco Store staff, and what’s trending every season.  

Welcome to the Cisco Store Tech Lab

You can get to learn a bit more about the Cisco Store Tech Lab in every lookbook. The Tech Lab is a real retail environment powered by Cisco and Cisco partner technology: our collaborators can deploy their products in our stores to gather learnings and advance their products. The Tech Lab allows us to show customers where Cisco’s heading and what’s available now. 

Every quarter, we will highlight a new set of technology (including the latest releases) revolving around relevant themes in the retail industry, such as sustainability and AI. Get a closer look into product use cases, demo videos, and more. 

The Cisco Store is always bringing in new products and ideas, and our lookbook will be a key way for customers and employees to keep up with all our updates. To be notified of upcoming lookbook launches and to stay in the loop of what’s going on at the Cisco Store, be sure to subscribe to our mailing list at merchandise.cisco.com.  

Check out the Spring 2024 Lookbook for your region!




Improved Area Monitoring with New Meraki Smart Cameras

New Meraki MV13 and MV33 smart cameras

Meraki’s smart cameras offer businesses an easy-to-deploy way to monitor their physical security, with the added benefit of being managed entirely on the cloud. Various Meraki cameras are deployed in the Cisco Store, including the outdoor smart cameras MV63 and MV93, which have long been useful in the Cisco Store. The MV63’s wide-angle, fixed-focused lens monitors the entrances and exits of the store, while the MV93’s 360° fish-eye lens offers panoramic wide area coverage, enhancing surveillance capabilities even in low lighting. Both cameras have helped keep the Cisco Store secure by using important features such as intelligent object detection using machine learning, motion search, and motion recap.

Now, these two cameras have indoor counterparts. Launched in February 2024, the Meraki MV13 and MV33 cameras will continue to improve security measures with even clearer footage, higher performance, and stronger analytics. Meraki’s latest camera features, attribute search and presence analytics, will further improve these cameras’ capabilities. 

Introducing the newest indoor smart cameras, Meraki MV13 and MV33 

The new Meraki MV13 has a fixed lens and is ideal for monitoring indoor hallways and spaces. It is easy to deploy and offers some of the best visual components like 8.4 MP image quality and up to 4K video resolution.

Meraki MV13 smart camera

Meanwhile, the Meraki MV33 has a 360° fish-eye lens and 12.4 MP image quality, and can be used to monitor general indoor retail, hospitality, education, and healthcare spaces.  

Meraki MV33 smart camera

Faster search, smarter insights

Meraki simultaneously launched two new features: attribute search and presence analytics.

The attribute search feature is an easier and faster way of parsing through video footage based on a person’s clothing color (both top and bottom) as well as a vehicle’s color and make. In the event there is a suspicious person or theft, this feature would allow security teams to quickly filter through footage by these attributes from up to four cameras, thus improving store security measures.

Meanwhile, the new presence analytics feature includes area occupancy analytics and line-crossing analytics. These will allow security teams to define areas to be analyzed and then accurately gain insights on people movement in those spaces.  

Both the MV13 and MV33 will add to Meraki’s broader portfolio of cameras, giving organizations more flexibility and ways to monitor all areas of their buildings with ease, including in the Cisco Store. Attribute search has been incorporated into both the indoor Meraki MV13 and outdoor Meraki MV63, while presence analytics is now available on all second and third generation cameras. By creating tracking areas and easily being able to adjust those lines, security teams can customize what they monitor and then receive analytics that help them identify suspicious activity and gain insights into crowds. 

The new MV13 and MV33 smart cameras will be deployed in the Cisco Store in San Jose, California this week! To get a sneak peek, watch our Tech Lab expert Brian Domine showcase the two cameras at Cisco Live EMEA in Amsterdam.  

Interested in learning more about the Meraki MV13 and MV33? Request a demo now.  

Fly to Amsterdam with the Cisco Store

Cisco Live EMEA 2024

If you’ve ever visited the Cisco Store Tech Lab in San Jose, California, you’ve probably seen how seamlessly Cisco and our partners’ retail technology is integrated into the store. Now, how do we showcase that technology at our travel stores? Learn about our efficient set-up process at our most recent show, Cisco Live EMEA 2024, held in Amsterdam from February 5-9. 

Before the Event

Everything starts with the floor plan of the booth at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Center. Once we have that, I’ll start mapping out where all the store technology needs to go: we work with our partners to decide where to place their solutions to ensure they can work optimally. 

For instance, we met with EVERYANGLE to determine what areas we want to monitor for footfall analytics, queue counting, and engagement zones. Cameras had to be placed in strategic locations to give us full coverage of the store. 

Queue counting camera

Cogniac helped us figure out where to place our Meraki MV63 camera to have a clear view of specific T-shirts that were used in a demo in conjunction with Wipro VisionEDGE. When a shirt is picked up off the rack, the MV63 relays that information to Cogniac, and then Wipro VisionEDGE receives a trigger alert to change the screen next to the shirt to educate the customer about the product and explain how our products empower an inclusive future for all.  

Before we ship out to Amsterdam, I’ll set up the technology we’re taking in a lab in San Jose to test that everything is functional. I had our equipment road-tested and packed into just three crates by mid-December (a month and a half before the show), and JLL Logistics helped us ship it all over to Amsterdam.  

Arriving in Amsterdam

A few days before the start of Cisco Live, JLL delivered the crates to our booth at the RAI, and our team started unpacking and deploying the equipment. Since we had the map ready, placing everything where it needed to go was seamless. I gave the network team the placement of the switches, cameras, smart fitting rooms, and so on beforehand so they could run the proper electrical lines through the booth, and all we had to do once we arrived was plug everything in.

The Cisco Store Tech Lab

Technology Deployment and Store Operations

This is the first year we’re baselining the store’s power consumption, both at the San Jose store and at all our travel stores, with the help of CAE Labs’ WiserWatts. We plan to schedule our power at next year’s shows to compare energy and cost savings. It took a bit to figure out how to route the power for all the technology through the Meraki MT40s (smart power controllers that monitor and remotely control power). We deployed twelve MT40s for full coverage of the booth, and it took a few trips to the electronics store to get the right adapters, but now that we’ve done it once, it will be a lot easier globally. After that, Fidel (the store’s Merchandising Project Manager) helps us place all our Meraki cameras. Everything is online by the Saturday before the show starts, and then we do any last-minute configuring and deploying our digital signage playlists.

The technology makes it a lot easier for our store associates in their day-to-day functions. Meraki smart buttons were set up to allow the associates to change our digital signage (for instance, changing the screens to indicate that the store was closed) without requiring backend access. Our travel stores utilize temporary store associates, so the process of restocking merchandise was similarly simplified: all they had to do was input the product’s ID, and the corresponding electronic shelf label would flash in the back of house to indicate the item’s location.  

Touring the Tech Lab

Now that the travel store and tech lab are set up, I review the tour schedule with Kaleigh (the Cisco Store and Tech Lab’s Program Manager) to make sure the flow of the tours is fluid. We had a tour scheduled for the Cisco Champions the day before the show started, so our rehearsals had to be completed in advance.

We’d set up what we like to call the Triforce of Wisdom, or our triangular tech wall, to display our technology to visitors. Fidel, Courtney (our Marketing Lead), and Anjana (our Product Marketing Specialist) had wired up the products, such as the Meraki MT40, VusionGroup’s SESimagotag electronic shelf labels, and so forth beforehand so visitors could see the technology in-person. Meraki just launched their new MV13 and MV33 smart cameras a few days ago, and tour attendees had the opportunity to gain a sneak peek into those products during the show.  

The Triforce of Wisdom Tech Wall

And that’s it! Our set-up process has been streamlined in a way that allows our small team to have things up and running in a matter of a few days.

To learn more about the Cisco Store Tech Lab, come visit us in San Jose, California, or catch us at Cisco Live US in June. If you were able to stop by the store at Cisco Live EMEA, thanks for saying hello! Hope to see you next year.  

Retail Tech Deep-Dive: Webex Connect

Webex Connect Chatbot

Join us as we dive deeper into Cisco and Cisco Partner technology deployed at the Cisco Store! We asked Jeremy Martin (Sales Leader, Americas, Webex CPaaS Solutions) to discuss Webex Connect and how it is used in the Cisco Store and the larger retail industry. 

Jeremy leads sales in North and South America for the Webex cloud communications platform (CPaaS) solution. He has more than two decades of experience helping clients and partners create and grow innovative omni-channel digital engagement between brands and consumers. With several leadership roles over the years, Jeremy has deep mobile industry expertise that’s been leveraged across many vertical markets including retail, healthcare, pharmacy, telecom, hospitality, utilities and transportation. 

How does Webex Connect improve a shopper’s in-store and/or virtual shopping experience? What problem is it solving?  

Webex Connect is an enterprise-grade Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS) for orchestrating and automating end-to-end customer journeys in a single, cloud-based solution. 

Our CPaaS solution revolutionizes customer experiences by streamlining processes such as order status notifications, refunds, and returns inquiries. Customers are empowered to self-serve, effortlessly modifying orders or updating delivery information through the seamless integration of AI-driven chatbots.  

With Apple and Google owning the lion’s share of mobile operating systems (including the default messaging apps as well as maps applications that power local search), consumers are increasingly seeking and initiating conversations with brands through non-traditional channels (Apple Messages for Business, Google Business Messages). Webex Connect provides rich, integrated customer engagement, helping to drive navigation to stores, answer questions on hours and inventory, and reach retail associates to answer more complicated questions.  

Plus, Webex Connect integrates into existing backend systems, allowing retailers to harness valuable customer data for creating personalized shopping experiences across various channels.

Retailers these days are competing on customer experience (CX), so the ability to deliver distinctive experiences is essential. And with the automation Webex Connect enables, employees’ time is freed up to focus on more important tasks. 

What would you like people to know about Webex Connect when they see it in action at the Cisco Store Tech Lab?  

Webex Connect plays a pivotal role in enhancing operational efficiency for the Cisco Store. Leveraging this platform, the team has successfully programmed contextual prompts and implemented a responsive chatbot to address simple customer queries round-the-clock. As an enterprise-grade CPaaS solution, Webex Connect is accessible to everyone: developers and businesses alike can create end-to-end customer journeys within the platform. Its user-friendly features, such as low-code tools and drag-and-drop flow builders, foster a collaborative environment across the entire business.  

How do you envision Webex Connect being used in retail environments in the future?

We anticipate businesses leveraging CPaaS not only to adopt the latest communication channels, but also to craft synchronized customer journeys at every touchpoint. Think: experiences where every interaction works together to build a cohesive, multi-channel journey.

AI is also here to stay. As organizations invest in data, machine learning, and AI capabilities, they gain the tools to understand customers at a granular level; Webex Connect provides out-of-the-box AI capabilities as well as seamless integration with retailers’ existing AI platforms and investments. And with CPaaS, AI stands to make automated, self-serve interactions better, faster, and more cost-effective.  

What do you think will be a priority for shoppers in the next 5 years?

Convenience is expected to remain a top priority for customers in the future. A seamless fusion of online and offline shopping experiences, like buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS), is also likely to be a focal point. Customers will begin to expect proactive outreach rather than initiating reactive support – they want brands to anticipate their needs before they even know of them themselves. 

Likewise, what do you think will be a priority for retailers in the next 5 years? 

Currently, 75% of connected customers prefer to interact with retail brands using digital messaging channels – and that’s only expected to increase. So, to be consistent with consumer preferences, brands will continue to prioritize digital-first, personalized communications, which will become more integrated and more sophisticated by improving how customer data and touchpoints are leveraged. We anticipate they’ll also have a major focus on automation to boost efficiency and reduce costs. 
Interested in learning more about Webex Connect? Visit our retail solutions page or get in touch with one of our experts.  

Cisco Store Xplorer: An AR Experience

Cisco Store Xplorer

Augmented reality (AR) has the potential to unlock a new level of interaction with the world around us. The Cisco Store has harnessed this technology by creating the Cisco Store Xplorer AR app.

When the app is first opened, it detects whichever store is nearby: the SJC store, the RTP store, or the relevant travel store. The experience has the capability to be customized as well: upon entering the store, visitors can click a Welcome button to be shown a personalized message on the entry signage, powered by Wipro VisionEDGE.  

As visitors explore the store, they can point their phones at hotspots located throughout the store to learn more about Cisco’s retail solutions and partner technology (for instance, a Meraki camera on the ceiling). They are given the option to read the product specifications or see what the camera dashboard is capturing in real-time.   

Cisco Store Xplorer hotspots

The Cisco Store Xplorer can increase the operational and data-collecting efficiency of the store. The app is integrated with Meraki API to allow staff to see data from Meraki sensors without needing to access a dashboard; for instance, it gives quick visibility into air quality metrics picked up by the MT15. Furthermore, the app is integrated with VusionGroup’s electronic shelf labels: a staff member only needs to enter a product’s ID into the app and the corresponding shelf label will blink, allowing staff members to easily locate the item. Applying this technology to retail environments will allow for a much smoother shopping experience. 

The possibilities for improved efficiency are limitless with the Cisco Store Xplorer app. Moving forward, visitors can even see and interact with the technology hotspots using the upcoming Apple Vision Pro.

The Cisco Store Xplorer is now available on both the App Store and Google Play. Come visit the Cisco Store Tech Lab to see it in action!

Improving Audience Understanding and Store Operations with EVERYANGLE and Meraki

EVERYANGLE and Meraki at the Cisco Store

Understanding how to best serve customers is a primary focus for retailers. However, gaining this understanding can be complex. Retailers need to know what their customers are buying, when they’re buying it, and their feelings while shopping. Stationing staff members in the store to gauge customer reactions is not an efficient solution. This is where Meraki and EVERYANGLE come into play, enhancing the customer-focused daily operations of the Cisco Store.  

The MV12 and MV63 are directional cameras. The indoor MV12 offers a choice of a wide or narrow Field of View (FoV) and provides intelligent object and motion detection, analytics, and easy operation via the Meraki dashboard. The outdoor MV63 monitors the entrances and exits of the store.  

Meanwhile, the MV32 and MV93 are 360° fish-eye cameras. The indoor MV32 combines an immersive de-warped FoV with intelligent object detection and streamlined operation via the Meraki dashboard, in addition to addressing major security vulnerabilities. The outdoor MV93 offers panoramic wide area coverage, enhancing surveillance capabilities even in low light.  

The data from these Meraki cameras is utilized by EVERYANGLE in the Cisco Store in various ways.  

Footfall Intelligence and Customer Demographics  

A challenge for physical stores is obtaining metrics comparable to online stores, making it difficult to tailor the retail experience effectively. EVERYANGLE’s technology levels the playing field for physical retailers.

EVERYANGLE uses data from the directional cameras MV12 and MV63 to help the Cisco Store better understand its visitors. The Next Generation Footfall App breaks down customer genders and ages, monitors their satisfaction levels post-visit, and tracks the time spent in various store sections. For example, data from a Cisco Live event revealed a 50:50 male to female customer ratio, contrary to the expected 60:40, leading to adjustments in the Store’s product range.  

EVERYANGLE determines purchase conversion rates at physical locations by analyzing integrated sales data and foot traffic. Their machine learning and AI algorithms provide 95% accurate customer insights. Staff members are automatically excluded from these insights, ensuring data accuracy.

EVERYANGLE’s True Customer Identification accurately distinguishes genuine shoppers from non-customers. This empowers retailers with precise customer data, crucial for targeted strategies and store optimization, ensuring decisions reflect real customer activity.  

Entrances excluding staff

The Cisco Store can thus easily gauge customer demographics, engagement, and group dynamics without a heavy in-store staff presence, adjusting displays and marketing tactics accordingly. Fortunately, we have seen an increase in positive sentiment from when customers enter the Cisco Store to when they exit!  

Footfall Intelligence

Customer Demographic Breakdown

Queue Counting and Dwell Times

This data is used to maintain smooth store operations and continuously improve performance. The fish-eye cameras MV32 and MV93 are used to monitor the checkout lines: a threshold on the queue count allows for staff adjustment at checkouts as needed. If people spend a comparatively longer time at certain stations, we can begin to understand if that longer dwell time means more sales of those specific products.

In-Store Security

Meraki’s people detection capabilities, integrated with EVERYANGLE, help the Cisco Store maintain top-notch security. Cameras, integrated with the point of sale (POS) system, anonymously track high-value purchases and returns, aiding in fraud prevention.

Meraki and EVERYANGLE enable the Cisco Store to better understand its customers and serve them effectively, prioritizing their security and privacy. The analytics and dashboards facilitate customer service improvement, ensuring customers leave with a positive shopping experience.  

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