Technology

Retail Tech Deep-Dive: Webex Connect

Webex Connect Chatbot

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cisco Store Xplorer: An AR Experience

Cisco Store Xplorer

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

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

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

Cisco Store Xplorer hotspots

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

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

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

Improving Audience Understanding and Store Operations with EVERYANGLE and Meraki

EVERYANGLE and Meraki at the Cisco Store

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

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

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

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

Footfall Intelligence and Customer Demographics  

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

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

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

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

Entrances excluding staff

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

Footfall Intelligence

Customer Demographic Breakdown

Queue Counting and Dwell Times

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

In-Store Security

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

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

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.