Author: Joe Weiss. Editor: Nicki Vereschagin
In January of 2020, retailers around the world assembled in New York for NRF to see the latest and greatest in technology solutions to help enhance the guest experience in their retail stores. Most retailers were not aware of how their strategy would need to change and adapt in the coming months as the world changed in the blink of an eye. At Cisco we have seen a massive shift in retailers looking to remain agile. One of the most foundational aspects of this, has been the shift to the cloud as a fundamental component to managing workloads and storing data. As retail stores are reopening, this is even more relevant now.
Cloud-managed Cisco cameras are ushering in this new era,
where retailers are asking for more value from the technology they invest in, and the workloads those technologies can deliver. The Cisco cameras are a physical security solution that simply works when you plug it in. Configuration and security are delivered from the cloud in a seamless and simple to deploy, plug-and-play setup. These cloud-managed cameras then can deliver the physical security workload, as well as insights that have not been achievable in the past.
Three of the key areas we are focused on delivering for our customers includes
- First and foremost: serving up insights and analytics in real time. How many people are in my store, where do they go when they are in the store, and how long do they dwell.
- The second area we are delivering for our customers is around solving the social occupancy requirements. We have seen many retailers struggle with providing real time occupancy for both the retail stores as well as the in the offices. Being able to layer in advanced analytics such as facemask detection from our ecosystem partners allows our customers to adapt and solve specific problems and when that requirement is no longer needed the system can be used to deliver different outcomes. Flexibility is a cornerstone of the Cisco camera platform.
- The third way in which we’re serving retailers with our camera capabilities, is ensuring safety and security outside of the physical retail stores. The Cisco camera range is adaptable to some of the most challenging environments (including parking lots, curbside pickup locations and other outdoor environments) for campus security. This also includes locations such as warehouse and distribution centers, to identify behaviors like tailgating or concealment of high value goods.
One of the questions that always seems to come up regarding Meraki MV products, is why we’ve built the cameras with edge compute and edge storage, when everyone else is either storing video centrally or in the cloud. The reason is quite simple- we know that storage and compute continue to become more abundant at the edge, and we want to deliver the simplest to deploy and easiest to manage camera solution on the market. The architecture we have chosen where all of the video is stored in the camera (and only streamed from the camera when its needed to be viewed remotely) means that as a retailer, you get the best of everything in one simple package. A camera system that is built to be secure from the ground up, and delivers immediate value out of the box. This is designed to work no matter what the upstream connectivity is with cameras typically consuming less than 50kbs. Additionally, since every Cisco camera has artificial intelligence baked right in, that can be run without the need to send video to a server or to the cloud. This reduces complications or barriers from extracting value in real-time.
Another question that always comes up, is how can video analytics work alongside the investment that’s been made in wifi and Bluetooth location analytics. Today, these two actually compliment each other perfectly with our location analytics platforms. We are combining the advanced location awareness to deliver Bluetooth beaconing, guest splash pages and movement with wifi data, while also pulling in physical people counting, as well as monitoring real-time occupancy. As mentioned previously, these video analytics capabilities can extend outside the building and into a parking lot. Our cameras can identify specific vehicles, with our partner-enabled plate recognizer feature. From this detection, our platform can then use that as a trigger to inform staff to pull a click and collect order, or just give them a heads up that Mr. Smith is coming to pick up his order. One question that may arise with the data being collected and interpreted is how to maintain compliance. Rest assured, all the features and capabilities mentioned can be done staying well within regulations such as GDPR.
Enhancing the guest experience and creating that personalized retail journey starts with being able to build solutions that scale. Centralized management and advanced visibility are cornerstones of the platform we have created. We are continuing the build for the future of this space, and have actually just launched a series of sensors that can use the Cisco camera system as a gateway. This means that with an investment in physical security, we are giving customers the ability to build their data collection platform of the future. Whether that data is monitoring temperature and humidity levels in the store, whether or not a safe has been left open, or how many people came into the store between 10 and 11 AM, we can deliver that data in the platform where it’s easiest to consume. The best part is we are just getting started. In the future we are looking to deliver to our retail customers the ability to understand even more about how their customers shop, and deliver a shortcut to business intelligence.
And if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to this Retail channel so you don’t miss a beat. With January right around the corner, you’ll want to check out our Cisco at NRF 2021 microsite and register for the virtual show today!