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NRF 2024: An Interview with the Cisco Store Team

NRF 2024 Cisco Store

The National Retail Federation (NRF) just hosted its 2024 show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City over the MLK long weekend. Kaleigh Bisconti and Brian Domine from the Cisco Store and Cisco Store Tech Lab team share their insights into the technology they experienced and where they see the future of retail heading. 

NRF 2024NRF 2024
NRF 2024

Please introduce your roles at the Cisco Store!

Kaleigh: I’m Kaleigh Bisconti – I oversee the Cisco Store and Cisco Store Tech Lab program, which includes the travel stores, physical stores, and our online stores.  


Brian: I’m Brian Domine – I run all the technology deployments in the Cisco Store through the Cisco Store Tech Lab, both at the physical locations and at our travel stores.  

What was the most interesting technology you saw at NRF? 

Kaleigh: There was a space called the Innovation Lab that displayed up-and-coming technology solutions. The Tech Lab’s partner EVERYANGLE was there: EVERYANGLE is responsible for giving us in-store metrics, such as customer demographics, sentiment, and purchase conversion rate, that you would previously only be able to get from online stores. 
Typeface was also a cool find. You can input your company’s brand guidelines and they leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to generate content in accordance with those guidelines. They can also cater the content they generate towards specific target markets. For example, if a car manufacturer wanted to adjust their content by geographic region, Typeface could do that for them. I could see the Cisco Store implementing this kind of technology in the future: Typeface could help create content for specific platforms.  


Brian: There were multiple companies such as Proto and ARHT with spaces containing life-sized holograms of a person. You could have two-way live interactions with the holograms, which was pretty cool.  

What technology did you see at NRF that you would like to see in day-to-day shopping experiences? 

Kaleigh: From a retailer’s point of view, there were a lot of electronic shelf label (ESL) solutions that would make store operations more streamlined. They can be quickly updated with price or product changes, and you can even alter the currency according to which country you’re in.   


Brian: Lots of self-checkout kiosks with larger, more interactive screens than just a small tablet.  

What are some problems people normally face while shopping? How might the Cisco Store Tech Lab help solve those problems? 

Kaleigh: A big problem is workforce optimization. Retailers need to streamline the efficiency of sales associates on the floor in physical stores: for example, finding a way to automate the retrieval of products at the back of house. With workforce shortages, solving this problem is especially important. 


Brian: The Cisco Store utilizes Webex Connect to quickly answer customers’ questions and forward them to live agents if they need further assistance. Meraki cameras placed throughout the store help track customer demographics and sentiment and detect any theft or fraudulent purchases. These are just a couple of examples of how we try to solve the problems Kaleigh mentioned.  

What is a priority to you when you are in a retail environment? 

Kaleigh: Having a seamless experience is one of the most important aspects in a retail environment. If a product is available in a physical store, it should be available online (and vice versa). At the very least, a customer should be able to quickly locate items in a physical store or get rapid assistance finding those items and/or shipping them home or to the store itself. There should be a self-checkout option that moves quickly too.  
One of the biggest plus points of a physical location is that a customer should be able to have a fresh experience there compared to the online offerings. This means having a more engaging store experience through interesting attractions such as in-store customization options.  


Brian: On the note of better engagement in-store, Webex demonstrated their customer communication platform, Webex Connect, through a mobile order coffee bar experience called Café Cisco at NRF. Customers could scan a QR code to begin the process and then quickly place their coffee orders by interacting with Webex Connect on their native messaging client. The baristas in turn could interact with the customers and keep them updated on their orders.  

Cafe Cisco InteractionCafe Cisco Interaction
Cafe Cisco Interaction

The possibilities of Webex Connect don’t stop there. The concept behind Café Cisco can be translated into other experiences as well, including our upcoming in-store customization experience which will launch at Cisco Live Vegas later this year.  

How do you see augmented/virtual reality (AR and VR) being integrated into future retail experiences? 

Kaleigh: Meta displayed its Meta Quest products at the Innovation Lab, showcasing mixed-reality environments for multitasking at the workplace.  


Brian: There weren’t a ton of other AR experiences we saw, but spatial computing will become more of a topic of discussion once the Apple Vision Pro is released. 

Where do you see the retail industry going in the next 5 years?  

Kaleigh: I see workforce optimization being tackled in the next few years. Electronic shelf labels (ESLs) will become a lot more prevalent, especially in the US. I hope we’ll be seeing more RFID self-checkout as well; it’s much more common in Asia and only a few stores in the US have implemented it so far. I also think we’ll see more integration in product searchability between online and physical stores.  
Understanding in-store audiences on a deeper level will be even more important in the coming years to make sure that physical stores stay efficient and worth the time and staffing power required to keep them running. As we mentioned before, Meraki cameras and Everyangle do a good job of getting us those physical store analytics at the Cisco Store.  
I think the retail industry will also be trying to develop and integrate more technological solutions that gather information about their customers while still maintaining their privacy. Shopping experiences may start becoming more personalized and stores may start creating more immersive experiences in their physical locations: for example, a digital screen changing based on who the visitor is. These changes will be interesting to track over the next few years for sure.  
If you had the chance to join us this year at NRF, thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you next year. 

Webex Connect and a New Digital Experience

Webex Connect Interaction

Consumers are relying on digital channels for their retail needs now more than ever. This shift requires online experiences to be increasingly enhanced, and a strong digital experience can make a significant difference in consumer attraction and retention. 

While creating such engaging experiences is necessary for businesses of all sizes, smaller teams in particular need to find a way to get their customers’ questions answered without relying on as much manpower. The Cisco Store is one such program, and Webex Connect provides an efficient, easy-to-use solution to this problem. 

Multi-Channel Communication

Webex Connect is an enterprise-grade Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) that transforms how businesses engage with their customers. In simple terms, CPaaS is a cloud-based technology that lets companies easily add custom communication features—like messaging, video, and voice—into their apps or services by deploying application programming interfaces (APIs). Webex Connect enables enterprises to deliver secure, automated, and hyper-personalized interactions at scale. And with little to no coding required, it empowers technical and non-technical teams alike to create rich, seamless customer interactions. 

With a diverse API portfolio and multitude of integration options, businesses can connect their existing backend systems – such as their customer relationship management (CRM), order management, delivery management or even shift management – with the latest digital communication channels to create personalized, automated customer experiences. 

Webex Connect handles customer communications over multiple digital channels, including SMS, WhatsApp, Voice, Email and more. The platform allows for inbound messages and automated two-way interactions, allowing customers to feel just as attended to as they might in a physical location. Customers can manage their communication preferences and consent at all times in accordance with online regulations, giving them full control over their digital experience. On the business side, employees can easily debug any issues in real-time and view key statistics through the platform’s centralized dashboards, data visualization, and data analytics capabilities. 

Ease of Use

The Cisco Store sets up multiple travel stores every year at events such as Cisco Live Amsterdam, Cisco Live Vegas, and Cisco IMPACT. These stores feature both our merchandise and our Tech Lab equipment, and our small team hosts numerous customer tours every day. To streamline efficiency with our limited staff, we can easily program Webex Connect to have prompts and answers ready regarding our events, such as the store’s hours and location in the building. Customers simply need to message the bot on their channel of choice to receive rapid assistance.  

Live Agent Handover

The platform also allows for bot interactions to be seamlessly handed over to live agents while still retaining the conversation context. Escalation to an agent is routed to a Webex Space, where someone on the Cisco Store team can claim the task and interact directly with the customer. 

Webex Connect Interaction

Webex Connect is currently being used both online and in-person at the Cisco Store, with 77% of the bot’s sessions occurring on the web, followed by 23% of the sessions occurring on Apple Messages for Business. Moreover, throughout the first quarter of FY24, Webex Connect averaged 30.4 messages per day, with 42% of the total sessions being handled by the bot.  

 Interactions with Webex Connect during Q1 FY24 have mostly occurred online compared to in-person at the store locations. The most common conversation topics with the bot, in order of frequency, were engagement with a live agent, order tracking, store timings, and store locations. 

Looking Ahead

The Cisco Store plans to use Webex Connect in a multitude of additional ways moving forward to truly maximize customer engagement. Customers may be able to do self-checkout via the platform by simply scanning a QR code and paying from their mobile devices. To speed up their order process, customers could buy their products online and pick them up curbside with the assistance of the chatbot. Moreover, Webex Connect could eventually be integrated with order management systems: customers can receive updates on their order statuses and shipping notifications via their preferred mobile channel. 

The possibilities of Webex Connect reach far beyond a simple Q&A platform – teams will receive 24/7 support, developer resources, account management, and expert live chat whenever they need it. Webex Connect will prove to be an efficient solution for customer engagement, starting with the Cisco Store itself.  

Interesting in learning more about our enterprise-grade CPaaS solution, Webex Connect? Visit our retail solutions page or get in touch with one of our experts.  

Know Before You Go to Cisco Live Vegas 2023

Theme for Cisco Live Vegas 2023

Cisco Live Vegas is right around the corner and this year’s theme is “Let’s Go”! So let’s go as we have big things planned for this year’s event. Attendees (in-person and online) have an immersive experience awaiting them, full of merchandise, innovative technology, and fun! Here is your “Let’s Go” snapshot:

Look our for our giveaway where you can win FREE exclusive merchandise on Instagram.
Engage with us on social @ciscostore (IG,TW), @ciscomerchandisestore (FB)
Take a picture and upload it to our virtual photo booth.
Shop for your favorite Cisco Store pieces at the show or online.

Give back my purchasing on-site, rounding up at checkout, or using our donation tower.
Open your books and Meet the Author at the Cisco Press counter in our booth.

Shop exclusive merchandise 

When we say exclusive, we mean exclusive! This year on-site at Cisco Live we have a new assortment of Cisco Live and graphic merchandise for you to select from. We are open in Bayside B 3:00pm on Saturday and 8:00am Sunday through Thursday! If you are not able to be at the show, you can find our merchandise options available online today.

 

Learn from our Cisco Store Tech Lab

The Cisco network is the foundation of the Cisco Store’s retail environment. The Cisco Store Tech Lab consists of both Cisco and partner technology that works in tandem to power our retail experience. Our technology stack includes product such as Meraki cameras, Meraki smart buttons, Meraki sensors, Everyangle visual insights, Keonn’s Smart Fitting Room, Cisco DNA Spaces, Fankave social media listening, Smirrl, SES Imagotag, and our augmented reality app, the Cisco Store Xplorer. The Cisco Store team will be on site to show you the technology at work and answer any questions you may have. 

If you are interested in guided tour to see and learn about our technology stack, sign up for a session. Don’t be afraid to drop in as we will be running them throughout the day. We will take you through various use cases and show you how the technology powers our retail experience in real time.

 

Impact through our inclusive future initiatives 

 Cisco’s purpose is to power an inclusive future for all. At the Cisco Store, we took this initiative in as a priority and now you can experience it for yourself! Every merchandise purchase made on-site, $1 is donated to Three Square Food Bank, who provides wholesome food for hungry people in Southern Nevada. You will be able to round-up your purchase at checkout to The Nevada Homeless Alliance or use our donation tower to also give back to all of the above, plus Sole Hope.

Along with this, we have icons on each hangtag to show how each piece of powers an inclusive future. These six icons include minority owned businesses, charitable donation, inclusive community collaborations, recyclable material, socially conscious, and sustainability. Make an impact by making a purchase at the Cisco Store as our entire assortment powers an inclusive future!

 

Engage with the Cisco Store 

We are counting down the days until we see you! We appreciate each one of our customers, so please come say hi! There are multiple ways you can stay engaged with us during the show.

  • Follow us on social @ciscostore (IG,TW), @ciscomerchandisestore (FB) and tag us in any pictures!
  • Come visit Cisco Press and attend Meet the Author Sessions from 2-3pm Monday – Wednesday.
  • Donate to Three Square, The Nevada Homeless Alliance, or Sole Hope on behalf of the Cisco Store at our donation tower
  • Participate in our giveaway (we promise this is a good one). There are more details to come but it is available to our online and in-person shoppers!
  • Stop in for a tech tour
  • Join Cisco Store rewards

 

We are so excited to see you so soon! Constant updates will be provided on our social channels. Let’s go!

Get to know our Cisconian Spotlight, McKenna White

McKenna White

 

Meet McKenna White 

What’s your Cisco story?  

I started at Cisco while in college at UNC as an intern in CX. I fell in love with the culture, vast opportunities for exploring new skills/business areas, and the mission of Cisco. When applying to jobs, it was very important for me to apply to companies whose mission was aligned with my values. But more importantly, that they were  actually living them out, not just using it as a tagline on their website. While working in CX, I was able to take on 3 stretch assignments to try out different teams and jobs. I loved the flexibility and was so appreciative to have a chance to “try out” new things without having to completely dive into a new role/team. After doing a stretch assignment on a DEI team in 3P, I knew that 3P was the organization I wanted to explore next. About a year ago I started on a Strategy and Planning Team within 3P as an Orchestration Project Manager and have loved being here!  
 

Tell us a bit more about yourself and your role at Cisco?

I am an Orchestration Project Manager in Strategy & Transformation team in People and Communities The Strategy & Planning Practice drives the portfolio management, prioritization, and orchestration of work to execute the People Strategy.  All with the goal to support a balanced portfolio of work and to create to work in our organization. 

My role as the orchestration PM is to create spaces and facilitate collaboration in designing and building solutions to the issues we are tackling. I am passionate about building connections, problem-solving, planning, project management, organizing information, storytelling, and constantly learning. 

I have also been on the Emerging Talent RTP board for 3 years and have loved having a space to connect my project management skills with my passions for creating spaces for community, promoting giving back, and facilitating connections. My team also just launched Homeroom RTP program – mentorship program for those <1 year at Cisco 2019 Impact Month Winner – leading initiative to support Durham homeless population during COVID-19.
 
What is your superpower?

My superpower is being a great communicator. In my opinion, being an excellent listener is foundational to communicating efficiently. Taking the time to truly understand a situation, someone’s differing perspective, or context behind a contradicting opinion makes such a difference in tackling a project, managing conflict, and being a good teammate to those you work with. 
 
What is your advice to people who are early in their careers?  What is one thing you wish you could tell younger you?  

Don’t be afraid to try new things! Create space and margin for you to explore areas that are not directly aligned to your role to find things you are great at or are passionate about! 
It’s okay to not have it all figured out. Give yourself grace and keep working towards growth while also enjoying and thriving where you are. 
 
What does the future look like for you? What goals/dreams you are aiming for? How will Cisco help you get there (If applicable)? 

I would love to further my skills as a Project Manager. To manage a program or project whose goal is to help people be more connected, informed, or equipped to be successful in their career.  

McKenna enjoying the sun with her furry friend
McKenna and her dog showing their love for Cisco

Cisco Live Amsterdam 2023: Know Before You Go

Cisco Live Amsterdam

Cisco Live Amsterdam is only a few short days away! This year will be better than ever before. Attendees (in-person and online) have an exciting experience awaiting them, full of merchandise and innovative technology! Attendees can shop all collections, learn how Cisco and partner technology power the Cisco Tech Lab, and give back to Voedselbanken, the Netherlands first food bank. Read through our Know Before You Go Guide to be fully equipped for what to expect at the show! We hope to see you there.

 

Shop exclusive merchandise

Who doesn’t love to shop? We got you covered! This year at Cisco Live we have a large assortment of merchandise for you to select from. We are open from 8:00am Monday through Thursday! If you are not able to be at the show, you can find this merchandise available online today.

 

Learn from our Cisco Store Tech Lab

The Cisco network is the foundation of the Cisco Store’s retail environment. The Cisco Store Tech Lab consists of both Cisco and partner technology that works in tandem to power our retail experience. Our technology stack includes product such as Meraki cameras, Meraki smart buttons, Meraki sensors, Everyangle visual insights, Keonn’s Smart Fitting Room, Cisco DNA Spaces, Fankave social media listening, Smirrl, SES Imagotag, and our augmented reality app, the Cisco Store Xplorer. The Cisco Store team will be on site to show you the technology at work and answer any questions you may have.

If you are interested in guided tour to see and learn about our technology stack, sign up for a session. Don’t be afraid to drop in as we will be running them every 30 minutes. We will take you through various use cases and show you how the technology powers our retail experience in real time.

 

Power an inclusive future

Cisco’s purpose is to power an inclusive future for all. At the Cisco Store, we took this initiative in as a priority and now you can experience it at Amsterdam! You will be able to round-up your purchase at checkout or drop a token into our donation tower to donate to Voedselbanken, the Netherlands first food bank.

Along with this, we have icons on each hangtag to show how each piece of powers an inclusive future. These six icons include minority owned businesses, charitable donation, inclusive community collaborations, recyclable material, socially conscious, and sustainability. Make an impact by making a purchase at the Cisco Store as our entire assortment powers an inclusive future!

 

Engage with the Cisco Store

We are counting down the days until we welcome you at Cisco Live Amsterdam! We appreciate each one of our customers, so please come say hi! There are multiple ways you can stay engaged during the show.

1.     Follow us on social @ciscostore (Instagram, Twitter), @ciscomerchandisestore (Facebook)

2.     Tag us in any pictures!

3.     Come visit Cisco Press and attend Meet the Author Sessions from 2-3pm Tuesday and Wednesday

4.     Donate to Voedselbanken on behalf of the Cisco Store at our donation tower

5.     Participate in our giveaway (we promise this is a good one). There are more details to come but it is available to all our online and in-person shoppers!

6.     Sign up for a tech tour here

7.     Join Cisco Store rewards

8.     Try out our virtual photo booth

9.     Take our event survey so we can make next year even better

 

We are so excited to see you so soon! Constant updates will be provided on our social channels and at merchandise.cisco.com. We are ALL IN!

Cisco Live 2022: Know Before You Go Guide

Cisco Live 2022 is only a few days away! We are back this year better than ever before. Attendees (in-person and online) have an exciting experience awaiting them, full of new merchandise and innovative technology! You can expect opportunities to shop all collections, learn how the Cisco Tech Lab comes to life, and give back to one of three amazing charities. Read through our Know Before You Go Guide to be fully equipped for what to expect at the show! We hope to see you there.

 

Shop exclusive merchandise

Who doesn’t love to shop? We got you covered! This year at Cisco Live we have three brand new collections launching at the event. Grab them first by swinging by our booth Sunday-Thursday! That’s not all. We will have a wide array of options to make sure you find exactly what you need. If you are not able to be at the show, all of these fantastic pieces are readily available online today for you to take full advantage of the experience.

 

Learn how to make hybrid work, work better

Our Cisco Tech Lab is back, with more features and opportunities to see the retail ecosystem in action with the help of our ecosystem partners. A few you can be excited to interact with are our new Meraki MT30 smart button, Everyangle visual insights, Keonn’s Smart Fitting Room, Cisco DNA Spaces, Square POS systems, Fankave social media listening, Smirrl, Sato RFID printing, SES Imagotag, and our personal Cisco Store Xplorer AR app. Our Tech Expert, Brian Domine, will be on site ready to show you the technology first-hand and answer any questions you may have.

If you are interested in a deep dive of our entire tech stack, sign up for a tech tour here. We will take you through various retail use cases and demonstrate the how the technology makes an impact in our store retail experience.

 

Impact through our inclusive future initiatives

Cisco’s purpose is to power an inclusive future for all. At the Cisco Store, we took this initiative in as a priority and now you have the opportunity to experience it at Cisco Live! First, you will be able to round-up your purchase at checkout or make a separate donation to one of three charities, Replate, Solar Sister, and Seacology. These organizations all help influence our environment positively and sustainably.

Along with this, we will have our inclusive future collaborations readily available for you to find what speaks to you. From our newest CAAN collaboration all about strength in community to our Women of Cisco merchandise all about allowing women and their allies to be confident in the workplace. Additionally, we will have a large variety of Pride merchandise, honoring Pride Month, focused on encouraging all to be 100% themselves. All purchases of these community pieces go to support a fund chosen by the community that they believe supports what theri mission stands for. This also applies online! Learn more and make an impact this Cisco Live 2022.

 

Engage with the Cisco Store

We are here and counting down the days until we welcome you back! We appreciate each one of our customers, so please come say hi! There are multiple ways you can stay engaged during the show and from at home:

1.     Follow us on social @ciscostore (Instagram, Twitter), @ciscomerchandisestore (Facebook) and tag us in any pictures!

2.     Come visit our Cisco Press, Meet the Author Sessions (6/13 2:00-3:00pm, 6/14 3:00-4:00pm, and 6/15 2:00-3:00pm)

3.     Take advantage of our promotions, especially our spend $150+ and receive a free Cisco Live bag, while supplies last

4.     Donate to one of the three organizations mentioned above

5.     Participate in our giveaway (we promise this is a good one). There are more details to come but it is available to all online and in-person!

6.     Sign up for a tech tour 

7.     Join our loyalty program, which was made possible by Yotpo

8.     Take our event survey so we can make next year even better

 

We are so excited to see you so soon! Constant updates will be provided on our social channels and at merchandise.cisco.com. We are ALL IN!