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Multi-channel retailing enables all types of shoppers to enjoy shopping on their own terms. Whether it’s on a TV, a computer, or the 3.5 inch screen of a smart phone, retailers create experiences that increasingly allow consumers to escape store crowds and get access to a wealth of product information with a click. 

E-commerce of-course is also changing traditional retailing in a profound way. The very shoppers that are accustomed to their own retail utopia with no queues, parking meters, instant access to information, integrated social networking, fast and accurate service, also require the same when visiting the brick and mortar store. As a result traditional retailing is now held to a whole new standard of increased expectations that is putting operational pressures, many of which are placed on the shoulders of store employees.

You might wonder what Cisco has to do with the retail workplace experience. Cisco’s Borderless Networks Architecture enables in many ways the next generation retail workplace experience by improving employee and manager productivity through streamlined IT operations that protect the integrity of company and customer data and result in enhanced customer experiences.  

Let’s look at a day in the life of the new retail workplace with some examples of how Cisco Borderless Networks can positively impact retail employee productivity:

8:00 a.m. – Hot new consumer electronics gadget goes on sale today. Problem is, your sales associates don’t know anything about it. 

Headquarters pushes a new 3 minute sales training video, which provides the key information sales associates need to know about the new product, to all digital signs throughout the store. Employees congregate in front of the signs before opening hours to view the video and can replay it on demand during slow business hours during the day.  Medianet, a key network service from Borderless Networks ensures the seamless delivery of rich media applications such as training videos to a variety of end devices.

10:44 a.m. – Leading supplier issues a nationwide recall on a bestselling product that poses consumer health risk and all inventory needs to be pulled from the shelves immediately.

Store manager receives a notification on email and voicemail about the recall and instantly can push out the notification to department employees either on their mobile devices connected securely to the wireless network or to the department desk phone. The notification can appear as a task on the phone, which the employees can then check off once completed so that there is full visibility and accountability for compliance purposes.

12:40 p.m.The store is getting extremely busy during the lunch break hour. Long queues are forming at the cash registers, and customers are starting to walk out, causing your sales to decline.

The store’s video surveillance system is constantly streaming high quality video surveillance footage to the headquarters that is being analyzed in real time. The store manager receives an alert on her mobile device that the customer queue at the registers has exceeded the preset threshold and a new POS needs to be opened. One of the back office employees, immediately uses a mobile POS to complete transactions and alleviate congestion and customer frustration. Application performance from Borderless Networks allows this time of real-time video analytics even between distributed environments, while an in-store wireless network provides the secure and reliable connection needed to run a mobile POS.

The entire system is part of a validated architecture that is designed to comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), so that customer credit car information is protected at all times.

4:15 p.m. – The second shift can’t locate handheld scanners misplaced by the first shift, and are thus delayed in starting their job.

The IT help-desk at the headquarter uses location capabilities of wireless network to locate the misplaced handheld devices on a floor map that is rendered on the Wireless Control System (WCS) platform, and notifies second-shift employees of their location so they can be retrieved quickly and eliminate any unproductive time spent looking for them.

6:30 p.m. – Employees microwave popcorn in the breakroom, and unknowingly bring the wireless network to a halt with the interference produced.

Luckily the wireless network is equipped with CleanAir technology, which automatically detects the source of interference (the busy microwave) and changes the channel of the AP(s) impacted. The change happens so fast and seamless that the personnel performing inventory management on the floor don’t even notice a change on the performance of their handheld device. In the past, those events would have led to a help-desk calls, and long troubleshooting times, which are now avoided.

9:00 p.m. – Tomorrow is the beginning of a three day holiday weekend and the store manager needs the updated price list from headquarters for all discounted items.

Application acceleration from WAAS makes downloading large data sets such as price lists a breeze between headquarters and the branch. Equally as fast, the store manager can now also upload inventory and sales data to headquarters, without unnecessary delays. 

11:01 p.m. – The last store employee has locked the store and left for the day.

Any IT updates that need to be performed can be scheduled during off business hours in order to minimize operational impact. Additionally, Cisco EnergyWise automatically turns off unnecessary lights and powers down office equipment such as printers, and computers and network equipment such as wireless access points that don’t need to be running overnight.

Borderless Networks enable the new retail workplace experience by connecting retail employees (vendors and customers), to any devices (personal or company provisioned), to anything (any applications that is needed to effectively perform their task), at anytime; allowing retailers to meet and exceed the higher standard of service that customers are beginning to expect.

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