Join us as we dive deeper into Cisco and Cisco partner technology deployed at the Cisco Store! We asked Julie Nguyen (Product Manager, Meraki Switching Platform) to discuss how the switches are used in the Cisco Store and the larger retail industry.


How do Meraki switches improve a retailer’s and shopper’s in-store and/or virtual shopping experience? What problem are they solving?

Network switches keep the world connected and moving as devices become smart and integrated. Meraki Switches are the backbone of improving shopping experiences by providing the connectivity needs and network security to support growing businesses with demanding requirements. As part of the Meraki ecosystem, Meraki Switches create seamless connections between cameras, access points, security appliances, and sensors to offer improved customer and employee experience within store and surrounding environments, such as monitoring lighting and HVAC systems for comfort. In addition, the Meraki ecosystem allows for segmentation to enforce network security between enterprise and IoT networks through features such as adaptive policy for secure segmentation of networks.

The switching portfolio has transformed in more ways than one to serve a range of operational use cases. Higher port speeds are now available in cost-effective switches, while the enterprise level switches are updated with a familiar usability to that of our Catalyst switches. With this unification between the values of Meraki and Catalyst, the platform can help overcome unique challenges in retail such as servicing issues quickly while offering a comfortable shopping and working experience.

What would you like people to know about Meraki switching when they see it in action at the Cisco Store Tech Lab?

Choosing the right switch is key to a successful and stable network. With the various options throughout the switching portfolio to meet your needs, Meraki simplifies network management and monitoring from a centralized, cloud-based dashboard.

If you’re designing or upgrading your network, what feature and functionality do you need to consider to select the right switch?

  • Do your end devices require PoE and what is the power budget required?
  • What port speeds are required (1 Gig, mGig, SFP, SFP+)?
  • Do I need to operate in more rugged environments with extended temperatures between -40°C and +70°C?
  • Is there a growing need for IoT devices and guest access to your network? Which switches may you need to support Adaptive Policy or SGT for micro-segmentation?
  • Do we anticipate growth of connected devices in the future and therefore require more ports to expand?

These are a few questions to help you get started.

How do you envision Meraki switches being used in retail environments in the future?

The level of creativity in retail to offer unique experiences does not cease to exist. Meraki switching will continue to be the foundation of connecting all people, places and things while expanding to environments that may require higher bandwidth and be rougher around the edges. Imagine being able to host more pop-ups or create outdoor spaces by using MS130R, Meraki’s first ruggedized switch, that can operate at extended temperatures between -40°C and +70°C and offer up to 30W of PoE per port to support outdoor cameras and access points. As the Meraki switching portfolio continues to expand, the possibilities are endless.

What do you think will be a priority for shoppers in the next 5 years?

Customers continue to look for unique experiences that allow them to consume products, goods, and services that meet their needs. In this ever-evolving world where there’s an expectation of receiving information quickly, it becomes increasingly important to support fast network speeds and reliable connections while integrating various end devices such as access points, kiosks, tablets, displays, robots and more.

For example, the use of QR codes has grown with the desire to become more sustainable by reducing single-use or limited-use items that share information with customers. More restaurants have started to use QR codes to display their food and drink menus, while clothing lines have used QR codes to share product details. Although the initial goal was to reduce waste, this has also positively impacted customer experiences by increasing the accessibility of information and making buying decisions easier for customers.

These types of experiences need to be supported by networks capable of meeting the various connectivity needs of integrated systems.

Likewise, what do you think will be a priority for retailers in the next 5 years?

Information is key to understanding customers’ interests and habits; therefore, being able to quickly identify shoppers as they arrive would be crucial for retailers to maximize their profitability. Real-time analysis of customer actions, such as pulling items from the shelves, may allow them to potentially receive coupons and deals on complementary items. This curated, unique experience would require considerations of networks that are scalable and reliable to mitigate downtime within PoS systems.

In addition, sustainability has also been top of mind for many parties, and the ability to monitor power consumption has been a growing need. Energy saving and monitoring tactics will more likely be considered and implemented, such as motion sensing for lighting and understanding how much power is being used with each device. As investments are made to improve customer experience through integrated systems, a simple, reliable network would help with its manageability while increasing profitability.


Interested in learning more about Meraki Switching? Visit our page, check out a podcast case study, or request a demo now.


Anjana Iyer

Product Marketing and Analytics Specialist

Cisco Store