A photo of Anjana Iyer

Anjana Iyer

Product Marketing and Analytics Specialist

A Week in Vegas with the Cisco Store

Cisco Store Tech Lab Tour

The Cisco Store at Cisco Live was grander than ever this year – we're talking a giant leap to 7,500 square feet of eye-catching technology and merchandise. A real crowd magnet, the store hosted over half of the 23,000 attendees at the whole show. 519 lucky people snagged a spot on one of our 26 Cisco Store Tech Lab tours to learn how we power a real retail environment with Cisco and partner technology. Plus, retail proved to be very much alive and well: merchandise sales were up 34% from last year, showing that the love for the Cisco brand is stronger than ever.

Powered by Cisco + partner technology

The technology stack behind our Cisco Live Amsterdam store went on a global adventure, landing in Las Vegas to energize the Cisco Store there. We ran the whole show on a full Meraki stack, featuring the latest gear like the MS130 switches, access points, nifty sensors, handy buttons, and even power monitoring sensors. Plus, we teamed up again with some stellar partners like EVERYANGLE, VusionGroup, CAE Labs, Wipro VisionEDGE, Webex Connect, and more to amp up the experience. 

Visitors were especially wowed by VusionGroup’s Captana, which alerts staff when items are out of stock as well as checks for merchandise planogram compliance.  

EVERYANGLE also turned heads with its in-store conversion rate generation for our brick-and-mortar spaces. Attendees got the inside scoop by touring with the pros who run the Cisco Store, getting a firsthand look at how we make retail magic happen.

Like Amsterdam, we also deployed 15 Meraki MT40 smart power controllers throughout the store to baseline our power consumption during the show with the help of CAE Labs’ WiserWatts platform. We plan to schedule our power at both of next year’s shows to compare our energy and cost savings: after baselining and scheduling power at our San Jose store, we have reduced our energy consumption by 66%, helping us fulfill our core principle of sustainability.

Can’t wait to see it for yourself? Check out our Cisco Store Tech Lab Tour video to dive into the action from wherever you are!

Along the way, tour attendees could experience how the Cisco Store powers an inclusive future for all: our donation tower was once again set up at the entrance of the store. Every token dropped into the tower represented a $1 donation to organizations such as Green Our Planet, Wine to Water, and Replate, totaling up to $1,207 by the end of the show.  

Let's go shopping

The Cisco Store unveiled an array of new merchandise, thoughtfully crafted by Cisco’s internal creative agency, The Hatch, presenting the brand in an innovative and sophisticated manner. In light of the robust partnership between Cisco and McLaren, and with the notable presence of McLaren CEO Zak Brown and racing driver Oscar Piastri participating in the keynote Q&A, the store introduced a new line of Cisco | McLaren products. These items, aligning with the partnership’s prominence in the Cisco Showcase, were met with overwhelming demand (nearly selling out), underscoring the partnership’s resonance with not only Cisco but also with our customers and partners.  

McLaren merchandise at the Cisco Store

Following the fervor of the first day’s keynote, the Cisco Store launched a limited-edition Cisco | McLaren hoodie, which was met with such enthusiasm that it sold out on the same day. 

Concurrently, AI was a prevalent theme at the event, with Cisco’s AI hub being a focal point on the show floor and the campaign video being featured prominently in the keynote. To complement this, the Cisco Store introduced merchandise that allowed attendees to own a piece of Cisco’s new AI campaign featuring the campaign artwork.  

Furthermore, the acquisition of Splunk, a significant topic of discussion and a notable presence at Cisco Live, marked one of the largest transactions in the technology sector’s history. To commemorate this milestone, the Cisco Store offered exclusive merchandise as part of the “It’s a new day” campaign, allowing attendees to celebrate this pivotal moment alongside Cisco.  

In addition, the Cisco Store offered an exclusive opportunity for attendees to personalize their Cisco apparel with unique Cisco Live patches. This bespoke experience was facilitated by the innovative use of Webex Connect, which streamlined the customization process. Attendees were invited to scan a QR code, which prompted them to select their preferred item for personalization and their desired patch and specify its placement. This allowed for a seamless drop-off experience, with real-time notifications updating them on the progress of their garment’s construction and alerting them when their item was ready for collection. This personalized touch enhanced the attendee experience and showcased Cisco’s technology integration in creating a memorable retail interaction. You can witness The Patch Station in action on the Cisco Store Tech Lab YouTube channel!

The Patch Station at Cisco Live

Leave us some feedback!

The Cisco Store set up a video feedback station called Fanvoice in a Box, powered by our technology partner Fanvoice, allowing store visitors to leave valuable merchandise and technology feedback for our team.  

Fanvoice at Cisco Live

Our visitors particularly loved being able to see real-world applications of technology that promise to drive the future of retail forward. And some merchandise requests? More McLaren gear.  

Interested in demonstrating your technology? Please reach out to set up an activation with us!

If you would like to bring your customers through the Cisco Store Tech Lab as a stop on your CXC Tour, you can also schedule your visit now – we'll have the Tech Lab personalized just for you!  

Retail Tech Deep-Dive: Meraki Security

Retail Tech Deep-Dive: Meraki Security

Join us as we dive deeper into Cisco and Cisco partner technology deployed at the Cisco Store! We asked Chris Weber (Senior Product Manager, Meraki MX security and SD-WAN) and Imran Idrees (Senior Product Marketing Manager, Cisco security and SD-WAN) to discuss how Cisco Meraki security allows businesses to stay ahead of the latest threats while reducing both cost and complexity.

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

In cybersecurity, the quicker you can protect against a threat, the more you minimize adverse impact; or better yet, avoid any disruption at all. However, one of the security challenges facing retailers is a complex and fragmented architecture. A collection of complex security technologies that have built up over time and are separate from networking technologies can lead to slow responses to the latest threats and are prone to human error, as it can require specialist talent to manage. Meraki MX overcomes this by taking a cloud platform approach to deliver the quickest way to protect against the latest threats, while also removing complexity and cost with: 

  • An always-on path for the latest Talos threat intelligence
  • Easy-to-manage firewalls designed for all IT teams of all skill levels
  • Intuitive, serverless architecture that elastically scales
  • Automatic smartphone-like firmware updates for zero-touch protection 

Retailers also face various in-store connectivity challenges related to the performance of business-critical payment apps, inventory systems, point-of-sale devices, security cameras and IoT devices, and shoppers’ Wi-Fi and browsing experiences. In addition to powerful protection, Meraki MX solves these challenges in several ways for retailers of all types: 

  • Built-in SD-WAN to automatically optimize WAN experience over all uplinks 
  • Instant access to ThousandEyes for proactive monitoring and visibility into the performance of the WAN to get ahead of possible issues before they impact performance
  • Models with built-in cellular modems for added redundancy
  • Part of an integrated SD-Branch management platform with one intuitive UI that also includes:  
    • Intelligent Wi-Fi access points for supreme wireless experience
    • Enterprise-grade SASE protection for remote users with Cisco Secure Connect — wherever they are
    • The simplest and most scalable dedicated 5G cellular gateways to supplement wired connectivity or support a cellular only branch
    • Smart security camera systems and sensors
    • Mobile device management for point-of-sale devices’ security, tracking, and management 

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

All Cisco security products are powered by Talos and that’s no different for Meraki MX. At its core, Meraki MX has an always-on path to Talos, providing undisputed threat intelligence. Talos is comprised of 250+ of the world’s most sought-after threat researchers and scientists analyzing 625 billion web requests every day – which is approximately more than 70 times the number of Google searches processed every day. They block 20 billion threats daily, 20 times more than any other vendor.  

Meraki MX is a full-fledged next-generation firewall that is easy to deploy and scale. All the latest intelligence from Talos is automatically distributed to millions of Meraki MXs across hundreds of thousands of customers on the Meraki platform to block 98% of all malware—that’s 25% more than the industry average. 

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

There’s a well-known saying in cybersecurity—the only certainty is change. From the moment a new threat is discovered by Talos, it takes less than 10 minutes for every Meraki MX customer to automatically be protected using zero infosec resources.  

Additionally, one of the advantages of building Cisco Meraki security on a cloud native platform is that it's designed for change. As the security landscape and threats inevitably change, Meraki security can easily adapt to keep retailers’ stores, assets, and customers protected. 

For example, as the latest threats become ever more sophisticated, acting across multiple vectors, Cisco Meraki security is integrating with Cisco XDR. This will allow retailers to quickly thwart sophisticated multi-vector attacks, with machine learning rapidly correlating and contextualizing mountains of network-wide telemetry data and AI instantly suggesting remediation. 

Moreover, with hybrid work and users being more distributed than ever, the Cisco Meraki platform added Cisco Secure Connect to protect users wherever they are. 

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

Definitely experiences – especially ones that add convenience through a personalized shopping experience. This includes thoughtful and well-timed suggestions, continuity in online and in-store shopping as well as shipping, and more.  

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

For retailers, cybersecurity protection will be a priority as threats inevitably increase and become more sophisticated. Ongoing digital transformation and simplification to remain competitive will continue to drive the importance of high-performance connectivity, as well as continued data and analytics – businesses must know their customers above all!  

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

Tracking Energy Consumption at the Cisco Store

Tracking Energy Consumption at the Cisco Store

This year at Cisco Live EMEA in Amsterdam, the Cisco Store began a new initiative to continue promoting sustainability in our daily operations. The power for the technology deployed at our travel store was routed through twelve Meraki MT40s (smart power controllers that can monitor and remotely control power). With our devices running 24/7, we baselined the store’s power consumption throughout the event with the help of CAE Labs’ WiserWatts: our total energy consumption for the show was 222.01 kWh. WiserWatts monitors our Meraki devices’ power consumption and provides power-saving, energy-efficient recommendations. Next year, we will schedule our power to compare energy and cost savings to actively reduce our carbon footprint. Similar baselining and consequent power scheduling will be conducted at Cisco Live Global starting this June. 

We similarly baselined our power consumption at our San Jose store, with the total power consumption for 15 screens running 24/7 over one week coming out to 429.72 kWh. With the help of CAE Labs, we scheduled the store’s access points and switches to turn on and off over PoE (Power over Ethernet), and screens were routed through Meraki MT40s. We began shutting off the power during off-hours in San Jose, only allowing screens to remain ‘on’ for 12 hours a day, Monday through Friday: this resulted in our power consumption over one week reducing to 154.87 kWh, a 274.85 kWh difference! 

Compared to the baseline week, scheduling power shut offs during off-hours also resulted in energy costs reducing from $64.46 USD to $23.23, a $41.23 difference (assuming $0.15/kWh in the United States).

As one of the Cisco Store’s six core pillars is Sustainability, we heavily prioritize reducing our carbon emissions. Our scheduled power shut offs also resulted in a reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions (GHG emissions) from 204.96 kg CO₂e to 74 kg CO₂e, a 130.96 kg CO₂e difference.  

The Cisco Store plans to regularly track our energy, cost, and GHG savings with this new initiative, and monthly updates will be published on our Cisco Store Tech Lab SharePoint page (Cisco employees: log in via SSO to view). Be sure to check back in to see our progress!

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

Retail Tech Deep-Dive: Meraki Switching

Retail Tech Deep-Dive: Meraki Switching

Join us as we dive deeper into Cisco and Cisco partner technology deployed at the Cisco Store! We asked Julie Nguyen (Product Manager, Meraki Switching Platform) to discuss how the switches are used in the Cisco Store and the larger retail industry. 

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

Network switches keep the world connected and moving as devices become smart and integrated. Meraki Switches are the backbone of improving shopping experiences by providing the connectivity needs and network security to support growing businesses with demanding requirements. As part of the Meraki ecosystem, Meraki Switches create seamless connections between cameras, access points, security appliances, and sensors to offer improved customer and employee experience within store and surrounding environments, such as monitoring lighting and HVAC systems for comfort. In addition, the Meraki ecosystem allows for segmentation to enforce network security between enterprise and IoT networks through features such as adaptive policy for secure segmentation of networks.  

The switching portfolio has transformed in more ways than one to serve a range of operational use cases. Higher port speeds are now available in cost-effective switches, while the enterprise level switches are updated with a familiar usability to that of our Catalyst switches. With this unification between the values of Meraki and Catalyst, the platform can help overcome unique challenges in retail such as servicing issues quickly while offering a comfortable shopping and working experience.  

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

Choosing the right switch is key to a successful and stable network. With the various options throughout the switching portfolio to meet your needs, Meraki simplifies network management and monitoring from a centralized, cloud-based dashboard.

If you’re designing or upgrading your network, what feature and functionality do you need to consider to select the right switch?  

  • Do your end devices require PoE and what is the power budget required?
  • What port speeds are required (1Gig, mGig, SFP, SFP+)?
  • Do I need to operate in more rugged environments with extended temperatures between –40°C and +70°C?
  • Is there a growing need for IoT devices and guest access to your network? Which switches may you need to support Adaptive Policy or SGT for micro-segmentation?
  • Do we anticipate growth of connected devices in the future and therefore require more ports to expand?

These are a few questions to help you get started.

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

The level of creativity in retail to offer unique experiences does not cease to exist. Meraki switching will continue to be the foundation of connecting all people, places and things while expanding to environments that may require higher bandwidth and be rougher around the edges. Imagine being able to host more pop-ups or create outdoor spaces by using MS130R, Meraki’s first ruggedized switch, that can operate at extended temperatures between -40°C and +70°C and offer up to 30W of PoE per port to support outdoor cameras and access points. As the Meraki switching portfolio continues to expand, the possibilities are endless. 

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

Customers continue to look for unique experiences that allow them to consume products, goods, and services that meet their needs. In this ever-evolving world where there’s an expectation of receiving information quickly, it becomes increasingly important to support fast network speeds and reliable connections while integrating various end devices such as access points, kiosks, tablets, displays, robots and more.

For example, the use of QR codes has grown with the desire to become more sustainable by reducing single-use or limited-use items that share information with customers. More restaurants have started to use QR codes to display their food and drink menus, while clothing lines have used QR codes to share product details. Although the initial goal was to reduce waste, this has also positively impacted customer experiences by increasing the accessibility of information and making buying decisions easier for customers.  

These types of experiences need to be supported by networks capable of meeting the various connectivity needs of integrated systems.  

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

Information is key to understanding customers' interests and habits; therefore, being able to quickly identify shoppers as they arrive would be crucial for retailers to maximize their profitability. Real-time analysis of customer actions, such as pulling items from the shelves, may allow them to potentially receive coupons and deals on complementary items. This curated, unique experience would require considerations of networks that are scalable and reliable to mitigate downtime within POS systems.

In addition, sustainability has also been top of mind for many parties, and the ability to monitor power consumption has been a growing need. Energy saving and monitoring tactics will more likely be considered and implemented, such as motion sensing for lighting and understanding how much power is being used with each device. As investments are made to improve customer experience through integrated systems, a simple, reliable network would help with its manageability while increasing profitability.  

Interested in learning more about Meraki Switching? Visit our page, check out a podcast case study, or request a demo now. 

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.