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Show Me the Retail Data

retailSuccess in retail often comes down to a counting game.  How many people pass by your store?  How many come inside?   How long do they stay?  And most importantly how many ultimately buy?

Today, the retail counting game has gotten a lot easier because we can now count devices as proxies for people, since many potential customers today, myself included, won’t leave home without their smartphone.  As soon as they enter a store, the beacon on their cell phone effectively announces its arrival to the Wi-Fi network and voilà, we have a count.

With the help of CMX Presence Analytics, these smart devices can help answer many key retailing questions with a single access point.

  • Who?
    Who is passing by the store versus coming in?  Presence Analytics uses both the cell phone’s signal strength as well as the time spent in the area to determine the number of people walking by versus in-store visitors.  Presence Analytics provides simple, quick reports on retail conversion metrics.   You can also track how often visitors return to a store in a given time period can be tracked, which can be key for customer loyalty programs.

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Indoor Wi-Fi Location and Beacons: Better Together Part 2

wifibeaconLocation-based services have been getting a lot of attention lately and people are increasingly curious about how Wi-Fi and beacons play together in the hot space that is indoor location technology. In my last blog I reviewed how beacons work and how to differentiate when to use Wi-Fi and beacons. There’ve been some great questions about beacon technology and how it complements Cisco’s location-based Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) solution, so I want to follow up on these topics with everyone.

What types of beacons are there?

Generally, there are two different classes of beacons: transmit only and backhaul enabled.

Transmit only beacons are exactly as they sound – they simply transmit information to anyone that is capable of hearing (bluetooth enabled smartphones). They do not receive or pass any data or information upstream.

Apple’s iBeacon is the best example of this type of BLE beacon. You can think of them like the navigational beacons used by airplanes when on approach to major airports. The beacon doesn’t even know the plane is there, but the plane is aware of the beacon and knows where the beacon is allowing it to take the correct action. Same is true for smartphones and transmit only beacons like iBeacon – the intelligence is located in the mobile application which must recognize the beacon and take appropriate action.

Backhaul enabled beacons generally include a Wi-Fi chipset for either management or data capabilities. Some backhaul enabled beacons are USB enabled and take advantage of whatever connectivity exists within the PC they are connected. Read More »

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The Key to Success in Tracking Mobile Devices: Symbiosis, Not Espionage

As a shopper enters a store, the retailer uses Wi-Fi to track her movements, interests, and shopping habits, providing a treasure trove of insight valuable to merchandising and product development alike.

And as advances in Wi-Fi promise increasing location precision and beacons promise pinpoint location based services, the future appears to be smooth sailing, right?

Well, not exactly.

Tracking the position of mobile devices accurately and correlating to personal data has been one of the most sought after Big Data objectives. And not just for retailers — the potential wealth of business value from data has drawn piqued interest across nearly all industries.

Yet in the real world, issues arise from both technology challenges and privacy concerns alike.

Technology challenges include:

  • Typical Wi-Fi accuracies in the 7-to-10 meter range (though Angle of Arrival and improved location analytics promise dramatic improvements)
  • Infrequent mobile device probing to conserve battery power
  • Interference from metal shelves & fixtures, water in products (and people!)

Privacy qualms speak to the heart of transformation in the Internet of Everything (IoE) age. IoE, after all, is the explosion of network connections among people, process, data, and things — and promises to be one of the most impactful periods of change in our history. And the people element is in some ways the whole point — to make our lives better, healthier, more efficient, and so forth. But the people issues will be just as challenging as those that arise around technology. Read More »

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Three Steps for IT to Deliver Better Business Results

The situation that many IT people find themselves in today is dripping with irony. They’ve deployed so many innovations over the years to address so many business challenges, that now most of their time is dedicated to simply keeping their systems running. Without incremental resources during these lean budget times, their new innovation cycles decline in direct proportion to their past innovations.

Given the current budget realities, how can IT break out of this innovation trap?

Read More »

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Retailers Lying Awake at Night – Who’s Next?

In the past few weeks, I’ve received two replacement credit cards. And, no, this does not indicate I’ve done too much shopping! It means that hackers are continuing to target retailers and the bank decided I needed to be protected by new credit card numbers.

I’m Carol Ferrara-Zarb, and as the leader of Cisco’s Security Solutions team, I’m joining the Cisco Retail blog today to talk to you about security and compliance in the store. While consumers certainly worry about security, the concerns of retailers are magnified because you are among the highest-profile targets right now for professional hacker attacks. Store owners and operators are just about lying awake at night wondering who is going to be next.

At the same time, change is continuing on the security front, particularly in the area of PCI compliance. At the end of this calendar year, the new 3.0 version of the PCI DSS mandate will come into force. Are you ready for the new requirements?

If you’re a Cisco customer, you very well may be. Join us on July 23 for a free, one-hour webcast called, “Straight Talk about Reducing Complexity and Maintaining Compliance in Retail.” Cisco Security Architect Christian Janoff, who sits on the PCI Security Standards Council Board of Advisors, and Aaron Reynolds, PCI Managing Principal for Cisco partner Verizon, will lead a candid discussion on retail security. The session covers:

  • The changes in the PCI DSS 3.0 mandate and their impact on your retail business
  • How to satisfy three standards—PCI, SOX, and HIPAA—by configuring one control
  • Implementing the latest, simplified strategies for PCI scope reduction, and how they can be superior to traditional methods for many retailers

You’ll come away with an overview of today’s threat landscape, and we’ll put it all into perspective to support your continued pursuit of compliance and retail success. Registrants will also receive the Simplifying Compliance Answer Kit, a set of documents and tools to help you understand compliance better.

The webcast takes place on July 23 at 10:00 am PT/1:00 pm ET. Please register today! Be sure to bring your questions to take part in the discussion.

We’ll see you there!

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