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What’s a poor brick-and-mortar retailer supposed to do? The competitive landscape seems to be permanently titled toward online retailers. Virtual sellers seem to enjoy facility and inventory advantages unavailable to their physical kin. They even get favorable tax policies from states that want to encourage internet growth.

Even with these asymmetric advantages, it’s the real-time insights available to online enterprises that provide a real game changer. By better understanding customer what a customer is viewing and their past history, a virtual store can provide guided advice specifically tailored to the individual shopper. Talk about targeted marketing.

Sure, the physical enterprise has strengths the online world doesn’t. Like first-person customer service and products that customers can touch, feel, and try on. But that real-time insight the retailers use so well? Out of reach.

Until now. With our acquisition of ThinkSmart, Cisco can help level the playing field.

ThinkSmart can equip brick-and-mortar enterprises with this insight by providing analytics based on indoor location. The ThinkSmart solution, tightly integrated with the Cisco Wireless LAN infrastructure, can track where customers and guests move and how long they stay there. It’s the Wi-Fi signal that’s tracked, not personal information, so the customer remains anonymous until they decide otherwise. These customer “journeys” are aggregated to create a historical record that can help retailers, hotels, airports, or any other indoor customer venue better understand what customers are doing when they’re onsite. And, more importantly, understand how to improve that in-venue experience.

ThinkSmart anonymously tracks wi-fi signals and aggregates those movements into predominate patterns. Using this historical information, the solution can capture and analyze customer behaviors that enable the enterprise to adjust floor layouts or deliver new, innovative business services that better accommodate customer needs.

For instance, a retailer can determine the most commonly used customer route through the store and they can place merchandise accordingly. Or an airport can determine peak traffic patterns during the day and relocate and correctly staff concessions, security, or other services to better meet travelers’ needs.

The venue can make the adjustments and track the resulting customer traffic patterns and behaviors to determine if the adjustments had the desired effect. And so on and so on, continually fine tuning and adjusting to continually ensure optimal floor layout and traffic patterns.

By providing the technology to capture and present detailed analysis about customer behavior, Cisco and ThinkSmart can help brick-and-mortar stores, hotels, and other customer sites provide the highly personalized experiences and innovative business services that will let them serve their customers better.

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