Cisco’s presence at NRF focused on the opportunity retailers have to connect their value chain with IT. The main exhibit demonstrated this in a grape to glass booth journey that showed digital retail solutions from production through supply chain management to delivery and in-store engagement. We also discussed both the power of a simple digital platform, and the advantages of looking beyond the store to improve customer experience in two speaking sessions. Whether you were able to attend in person or not, there’s a lot to take in so we’ve narrowed down the takeaways to 7 main points.

1.   Agile IT enables retailers to keep pace with changing customer preferences.

In one of our Big Idea Sessions, we brought in an analyst from IDC, one of our own Meraki managers, and valued Cisco customer Rent-a-Center. We heard about the time Rent-a-Center has saved in setting up store networks, and their perspective on configuring their back-end IT to continually meet the expectations of their customer base (which, has changed drastically over the past 10 years). With their unique business model, the value of harnessing data quickly in order to continually adjust based on consumer preferences became quite evident.

cisco retail Meraki nrf 2020

2.   Integrating retail systems is possible, via the network they’re built on.

“Digital transformation” is a buzzword, and it has been for a while. What this really boils down to for retailers is how to improve the customer experience, which requires looking beyond the store. As omni-channel retail has become a big component of this customer experience, we brought in valued customer VF Corp, partner Avery Dennison, our own Retail business development manager, and a retail analyst from IHL to get a well-rounded understanding of what this looks like today for retailers doing it right.

Cisco Retail nrf big idea session

3.    Sustainability is top of mind.

The benefits of incorporating reusable materials and integrating green initiatives go beyond the humanitarian good for retailers. As consumers gravitate towards brands that partake in circular economy, energy efficiency and other eco-friendly endeavors we found that digital solutions which tackle these head on are very much taking the retail industry by storm. Within Cisco’s grape to glass booth we demonstrated PoE lighting which can help reduce energy consumption across a retailer’s locations.

4.   Integrating your value chain is a big cost saver.

Two significant cost areas for retailers are downtime during the production cycle, and inaccurate inventory counts within distribution centers and beyond. An intelligent network can provide central management and visibility for retail operations across the board. This integration of data that is generated at the edge brings accuracy and efficiencies to quality assurance, inventory management, location analytics and unified communications. Stay tuned on a blog coming from Cisco executive Jim Walsh on the power of the network in integrating retail systems.

Cisco Retail nrf pick and pack

5.    Harnessing data drives the right engagement.

Capturing the right data within a brick-and-mortar store helps retailers strategically develop the engagement opportunities are the most beneficial in the eyes of the customer. Our grape to glass booth journey incorporated in-store engagement capabilities such as chatbot, virtual expert video collaboration, digital marketing and merchandising, dwell time analytics, in-store VIP customer notifications and optimized store merchandising. Not to mention, a strong SD-WAN can help to segment a store network so the best engagement opportunities are not compromised due to bandwidth.

Cisco Retail nrf

6.    Flexible fulfillment propels brand affinity.

Getting the right products into customers’ hands is becoming more complex with the rise in omni-channel and direct to consumer retail. Advanced solutions like soft POS allow for curbside pickup straight from a mobile device, and can aid in checkout options beyond the four walls of a store network. For direct to consumer retail, providing visibility around where products are (en route to their front door step) encourages further product insight, including how and where products are actually sourced. This shift to transparency is a major draw that turns one time customers into customers for life.

7.    Post-purchase plays a key role in the customer journey.

The convergence of technologies and the digital world to everyday life brings new opportunities for retailers around post-purchase engagement. This spans from real-time inventory management that enables positive exchange and return experiences, to smart appliances that may offer to populate your shopping list as previously purchased items are consumed over time.

Cisco Retail NRF 2020

The innovation is here, and we are excited about getting retailers the returns they need by generating efficiencies with the right solutions for growth in their environments.

Visit our Digital Compendium for a look into the partners and solutions shown within each section of the booth journey at NRF this year.

See how Cisco is strengthening the value chain for retailers, and check out our digital solutions for retail.


Nicki Vereschagin

Global Retail Marketing Content Strategist

Global Industries Marketing