What does a digitally enabled in-store retail experience look like? Attendees of the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York City earlier this year got a glimpse of the possibilities as Cisco showcased a connected store that sought to deliver everything the store of the future might do.
The Anatomy of a Connected Store
Cisco’s prototype store, Stop, Shop and Go, modeled several features that tapped would-be shoppers’ smartphones to deliver a smoother in-store experience, including the ability to make purchases on the store’s mobile app, which then automatically converts to a “buy online, pick up in store” order. This capability allows the consumer “to spend less time in the store,” explains Jeremy Witikko, global business development manager for retail at Cisco.
Moreover, for those who have ever been lost in a grocery store, a wayfinding capability in the store’s app could help customers see where items are located. This means shoppers can find what they need without having to search through rows of shelves.
“We’re really trying to make it ultraconvenient for shoppers, as well as give the store associates and staff more notice of what shoppers are planning to come buy so that they can quickly dispatch someone, an associate, to see if the stock’s on the shelf,” says Witikko.
Many of these features depend on the consumer downloading the store’s application in advance, but only about 30 percent of customers do this, Witikko notes. The solution? When in-store shoppers log on to guest Wi-Fi, they are immediately sent a text notification with a link to a web version of the app.
“You can reach the other 70 percent who won’t download the app and offer the same digital services through a thin-client experience versus an actual native app,” Witikko notes.
Associates Benefit from Real-Time Retail Analytics
When it comes to loss prevention, a connected-store setup can not only detect stolen items but also capture video of shoplifters and stream it live to associates.
In this and other ways, connected stores do more than just help customers; they also empower associates. Control centers can push real-time data and analytics to store associates and headquarters staff to help them work together to improve operations. Built on Cisco’s indoor location-services platform, DNA Spaces, the analytics leverages Wi-Fi infrastructure to provide actionable, real-time insights to associates.
The technology’s capabilities can be broken down into three categories:
- Seeing: By layering analytics over the store’s Wi-Fi, associates get a real-time view of what customers are doing in the store. This capability also enables automatic features for guests entering the store.
- Acting: Once the store has collected and analyzed certain shopper behaviors, the tool “can put in business rules and logic on top of the network and actually act on those behaviors in an automated way with a variety of bots and push-notifications and triggers,” Witikko says.
- Extending: The next step for retailers is to extend those actions to the “partner ecosystem,” which allows the retailers themselves to build out “even more feature-rich applications for their associates to use while we’re in our store,” Witikko notes.
“DNA Spaces is an evolution of what we can do with wireless and mobility and how we can layer in new actions and new capabilities when customers are inside the store,” he explains.