Tagged with 'future of retail'

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.  

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.  

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.