A new concept drawing a lot of attention these days is the Internet of Things or IoT. The idea is to make everything connect to the Internet so you can automate and control it.

Take, for example, industry segments like retail, manufacturing, healthcare, public safety and more. Each is trying to identify areas to improve the customer engagement experience by using mobile apps and beacon technology.

Now let’s take this scenario and amp it up a bit. Think of how we can transform retail engagement using IoT beacon technology to enhance the customer experience. 

To demonstrate, we use Cisco Meraki MR32 cloud-managed – wireless access points and Cisco CafeX to build an iOS app. As you likely know, Meraki APs have built-in beacon technology that mobile apps can utilize to provide context and location-aware information to the user. Context-aware mobile apps employ contextual information gleaned from their sensors to proactively provide the user with valuable data. What’s more, they do this with minimal effort on the part of the user.

CafeX Live Assist technology enables an expert end user to see an online visitor’s web or mobile application screen through remote screen sharing, temporarily take control to navigate for the visitor, draw on his or her screen using a simple pen tool, as well as push links, pictures and documents from a relevant knowledge base to the visitor. Live Assist is simple to set up, deploy and integrate with as little as one or two lines of code needed for enablement on any website or mobile application.

That’s enough to set the stage. So let’s get to the good stuff. The diagram below shows the conceptual architecture of the solution and explains the process workflow.

Cisco Meraki 1

To give it bit more clarity, let’s think of a simple scenario of a customer walking in a retail store and needing to contact a sales expert to get help regarding a product in the specific department where he or she is standing. Since the customer already has the store app installed and connected to store Wi-Fi, they launch the store app and tap the “Talk Now?” button.

The app communicates with the Meraki AP beacon to get the location of the device and launches the CafeX remote support session, connecting to the company contact center remote expert for that department. This person has knowledge about that product to qyickly answer the customer’s questions.

This “remote experts” feature of CafeX can provide real-time assistance and visual support for people navigating through store. When it’s combined with the personal nature of one-way or two-way video communication, or even just a voice-only call over Wi-Fi, 4G or any IP network, these tools ensure fast responsiveness, thereby building strong customer loyalty and a positive customer experience.

Here are the screens of the app as demonstrated at the Cisco Live 2015 conference in San Diego, earlier this year. The technology created a wow factor for many retail, manufacturing and healthcare customers.

  • App identifies a nearby beacon and sends internal notification to greet the customer
Cisco Meraki 2
  • User launches the app and gets company splash screen

Cisco Meraki 3
  • User launches the CafeX app by tapping the “Talk Now?” button


Once connected to the contact center remote expert, the user can share the screen and use the device camera to show the expert what product he or she needs help with, co-browse and also give control of the device to the expert if needed.

There are many ways to enhance this scenario by adding more features to the mobile app, thereby offering an even better customer experience. In addition to communicating with the Cisco Meraki AP, integrating the custom app with the CafeX Live Assist app was the easiest part.

With just one line of code, you can launch the CafeX app and send information about the device, the customer profile and the location to the contact center expert so the requestor’s time is not wasted by asking a number of questions before offering help.

The following screenshot shows the code used for the “Talk Now?” button action to launch the CafeX app.

Cisco Meraki 6

Instead of hardcoding the server address, you can also configure the app to get that information dynamically in order to build the URL. We added a settings screen to test multiple scenarios.


Take a look at the scenarios in your organization and see where you can help improve the customer engagement experience or utilize Cisco APs with beacon technology, combining with CafeX contact center remote support.

We have many experts at CDW who can help architect and recommend the best possible solution for your business needs. Learn more about beacon and other retail technologies.