The future of retail is here, and no, that doesn’t mean holographic sales associates or virtual garments. The modern retail space is one that leverages smart data and technology to create the most efficient, enjoyable customer experiences.

The Cisco Store has become a how-to example for modernizing retail and creating smarter shopping experiences. The store has gone through a true evolution—going from a space for employees to purchase Cisco merchandise to a true hub for innovation thanks to its Tech Lab that brings together technologies from Cisco, Meraki, and our ecosystem partners.

We sat down with Brian and Kaleigh from the Cisco Store to learn more about how they have leveraged the Tech Lab to transform the store into customer zero for Meraki products and a real-world example of future-ready retail.

We’d love to hear more about the two of you. Could you speak to your roles at the Cisco Store?

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

Kaleigh: I’m Kaleigh Bisconti—I’m the program strategist for the store, so I oversee the strategy for all of our channels including travel stores, our physical stores, and our online stores.

What is the purpose of the Cisco Store Tech Lab? How has it grown over the past few years?

Kaleigh: It’s really a retail ecosystem where we incorporate Cisco technology and ecosystem partners. We’re deploying the tech in a real environment—in this case the Cisco Store—so we can show customers how we power a retail space and partner with our product teams to beta test new innovations in a real-world setting.

Brian: The store has grown so much since the remodel opened in May of 2018. Meraki was definitely a part of that from the beginning. The Tech Lab started with just Meraki cameras and some routing and switching, but as the Meraki products have evolved, so has the lab. Recently, we’ve incorporated Meraki sensors throughout the space and access points to enable reliable, secure wireless connections.

What are some innovations that the Tech Lab has deployed at the Cisco Store that other retailers could deploy at their own locations?

Kaleigh: We often get the question “can I buy this out of the box?” because there’s just so much cool stuff in the space that speaks to retail customers.

We have electronic shelf labels (ESLs), or digital signage, we have footfall analytics using EVERYANGLE in partnership with Meraki, and we like to show customers how they can access virtual styling through My Stylist that we leverage through Webex boards.

Pretty much everything that we have in the store is possible for retailers to roll out, and we’re trying to show that this kind of technology doesn’t need to be intimidating. The Cisco Store team takes the store on the road for shows and only needs about five days to set it up.

How are you using Meraki IoT in the store space?

Brian: We currently use Meraki sensors and smart cameras in the store to leverage IoT for analytics.

For example, we have door sensors on the fitting room so we know exactly how many times throughout the day it’s being used. That helps us at the travel stores because we set up one room as a smart fitting room and another as a traditional fitting room to see the difference between the two—live! We can actually look at the analytics around both of those and see if having a smart fitting room is getting more people to engage.

Kaleigh: Another great use of the analytics from the Meraki IoT is for merchandising. By collecting customer behavioral data via smart cameras, we can see what the “hot spots” are in the space versus areas that get less traffic—this allows us to improve how we merchandise the store and what kind of product assortment we’re providing.

What about ecosystem partners? You’ve mentioned a few already.

Brian: There are so many that we leverage. Specifically speaking to Meraki ecosystem partners, we love partnering with SES-imagotag for our electronic shelf labels.

With most other shelf labels, you’re required to put a dongle into the access points to be able to pick up the communication between the devices. But with SES-imagotag being so tightly embedded with Meraki, you can configure it directly within the Meraki dashboard, making everything so much more simple.

We also use meldCX for our journey mapping using Meraki cameras to analyze how customers are interacting with the store and inventory. This helps predict behaviors and build a better in-store customer experience.

Kaleigh: EVERYANGLE is another important partner for us like we mentioned earlier. We’ve been using them for about a year and a half now to help us get more demographic and customer sentiment data.

Wow, I’m sure the tagging specifically can help with the pains of manual price changes and paper waste. Can you speak more to that?

Brian: Yes, I have a great example of that in the real world actually! We were setting up the store for Cisco Live EMEA, and as I was putting out the inventory, I realized the currency was wrong—it was still in U.S. dollars. I made a quick change to the template, hit one button, and the tags started flashing and updated to Euros in a matter of minutes.

Kaleigh: Our team had merchandised the store, and if they were not electronic labels, making physical changes would have been a big error on our end, so it’s nice to have reassurance that we can make those changes through our dashboard.

Speaking of Cisco Live, it’s coming up here in Vegas this June. Anything you can share with us about the Cisco Store and the Tech Lab’s presence there?

Kaleigh: Well for starters, we’ll have our biggest store yet at Cisco Live this year—it’s about 8,000 square feet.

We’ve dedicated about a quarter of that space to the Tech Lab. Visitors will be able to touch, see, and engage with the technology close-up while also being able to see it deployed in the store. They’ll see both sides, which is really great.

We’ll also have live sessions where we showcase the technology—it’s going to be really fun and interactive.

Very cool. Can’t wait to check it out in person! Before I let you two go, we need to hear about Robin, the Cisco Store’s very own robot. 

Brian: Can’t forget about Robin! “Robin” stands for robot inventory—she helps with tracking our inventory in real time. She’s essentially a sensor developed by our partner Keonn RFID

Kaleigh: Robin is just another example of how we’re innovating in the store space and how there are so many levels of modernization that stores can emulate and curate to their own needs.

Curious to learn more? 

Check out this virtual tour from the Cisco Store Tech Lab, and if you’re attending Cisco Live in Vegas, be sure to stop by the store to see the retail innovations in action. Want to sign up for a tour? Join the waitlist
We also encourage you to explore the Cisco Meraki Marketplace to learn more about our amazing partners.