July 15, 2024


Inspired By Shop

Retail shopping through a new lens

4 min read
Retail shopping through a new lens

Co-authored by: Kaleigh Bisconti


If you visit our corporate headquarters in San Jose, California, be sure to check out the Cisco Store Tech Lab in Building 11. Remodeled and opened May of 2018, the 2500-square-foot store not only offers merchandise ranging from apparel to backpacks, but also showcases our latest Cisco and partner retail solutions. The Cisco Store Tech Lab is a space for both Cisco and partners to test their latest products and refine them based on real world data. 

The stores’ technology stack consists of dynamic signage, Meraki Access Points, Smart Sensors, Cloud Managed Smart Cameras, and more. Say “Hi” to Robin our inventory robot that helps track inventory and enables the Keonn RFID smart fitting room. Electronic Shelf labels and Vrail full color displays powered by SES Imagotag, allow the store to make swift changes as needed. If you’re looking to explore the technology on your own, download the Cisco Store Xplorer, an augmented reality app that allows you to uncover and engage with every piece of technology in store. 

Cameras ready to go in a few hours 

Over 20 Meraki MV cameras provide a complete view of the space. Four MV32 fisheye cameras lined up across the middle of the ceiling and over the register, covering the entire store. Eight others focus on individual zones–for example, check-out, backpacks, entrances etc. 

Setting up video cameras in retail stores ordinarily takes weeks while technicians install network connections, configure cameras, and install network video recorders (NVRs) and analytics servers. Once the infrastructure was set up, our Meraki cameras were ready to use within a few hours. We just mounted the cameras and plugged them in. They immediately appeared in the Meraki dashboard. We don’t need NVRs because each camera has its own onboard storage, and we don’t need an analytics server because the cameras perform their own analytics. That means less infrastructure to purchase and manage. We can add new cameras whenever we need them. 

Get a closer look in the store

Store managers open a web-based dashboard to view real-time footage stored on the camera. They can zoom in and change the viewing angle–for example, to see which items customers pick up off the shelf–as if we had pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras. But unlike PTZ cameras, our Meraki cameras are always recording the entire scene and don’t have moving parts that break. Later, we might archive video in the Meraki cloud. 

Insights to keep improving the customer experience 

The cameras can also analyze video to look for specific types of events. We’re starting with people detection and people counting in individual zones and for the entire store. Long checkout lines on Friday afternoons? We adjust staffing. More visitors and longer dwell time in the backpack area than the accessories island? We might experiment with dynamic signage or merchandise location to see if dwell time increases–and if longer dwell times translate to sales. 

For more insights, we’re planning to use the Meraki camera APIs to share people-detection data with other systems, like Everyangle’s computer vision solutions. For example, to deter fraudulent returns we integrate cameras with our POS system to take snapshots of purchasers who buy or return items over a certain dollar amount. (To respect privacy, all data is anonymized, and no individuals are identified as specific people.) Leveraging Everyangle, the store is also able to look at conversion rates for its’ physical locations, something that was previously only accessible through our online store. 

Protecting security and privacy 

Our company has a strong commitment to privacy, so the security safeguards built into Meraki cameras are important to us. If we start archiving data in the cloud, for instance, people can’t intercept the video because the cloud checks the camera’s digital certificate. All management data is always encrypted. 

What’s next 

The Cisco Store has presence beyond our San Jose location! A lot of the same solutions have been deployed in our Research Triangle Park location and can be explored through the Cisco Store Xplorer there. With Cisco Live and Cisco IMPACT behind us, our sights are now set on Cisco Live Amsterdam as we’ll bring our store along with its’ full technology stack to the Netherlands. If you’re planning on attending, be sure to look out for Cisco Store Technology Tours in the sessions catalog. 

For more information read Beyond Video Surveillance: Cameras as Sensors 

Download our augmented reality application, the Cisco Store Xplorer, to uncover and engage with the technology at the Cisco Store. 

To read more Cisco IT case studies on a variety of business solutions, visit Cisco on Cisco: Inside Cisco IT 

Looking forward to our theater session at our NRF Booth in January



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