IoT in Retail: Bringing Changes Today

According Annual Global Shopper Study by ZTC only 57 percent of shoppers satisfied with the in-store experience. The majority of executives overestimates this number by 20 percent.

7 min read, Dec 6
iot-in-retail

Technology started to enter every aspect of the field from supply chain management to customer experience. IoT retail solutions are crucial for the digital transformation in the scope. They allow extending the depth of the intelligence brought in by AI and machine learning.

The combination of both tech achievements becomes a powerful tool for raising customer engagement and workflow optimization both online and offline. Retail IoT devices will have a significant share in the overall expected number of scope products by 2020 - 30 billion.

Integration of Internet of Things to the business processes is a complex procedure that requires the application of data science approaches in advance to ensure proper reception, storage, processing and analytics of collected data by hardware and software components.

IoT in retail

The process itself implies building IoT architecture for each particular system that embraces devices, platforms, applications and networks established between them as well as management tooling for its each particular level.

Upcoming year trends and experience of the market leaders like Amazon, Macy’s, etc. push the field reps towards technology adoption. The following IoT retail applications already earn appreciation from customers and companies in different regions around the world.

Supply Chain Optimization

The field success story should start from manufacturing and pass with dignity through each following link of the supply chain. Taking starting with a retail IoT strategy can not only improve the whole ecosystem maintenance but also reveal required adjustments to bring the business closer to cost-efficiency.

IoT in Supply Chain

Systems empowered by the Internet of Things and AI allow raising the workflow transparency by ensuring real-time tracking of the processes that happened at various locations including moving and conditions they run in. Improved fleet and asset management raise quality and security levels.

Supporting IoT platforms and applications can be integrated or connected to the appropriate ERP modules to arrange centralized analytics of gathered data to ensure efficient supply chain management and accurate predictive forecasting for demand and other aspects.

In-store marketing

Customer engagement and retention in the dynamic market environment became the core metrics that define the successful operation. But in the digital era is no longer satisfying the traditional ways of advertising including opening race for paper discounts.

IoT brings the loyalty and marketing programs on the new level since it allows to communicate directly and timely with customers via the closest channel nowadays - mobile devices. Adding to the campaign arrangement list specific sensors like an IoT beacon retail solution that can be placed around the store gives deeper insights concerning particular customer behavior.

IoT in retail stores

Setting up a digital account-based informational and loyalty system allows sending available offers to registered customers as soon as they near the placed device. It can be deals concerning near products or the ones buyers looked up online under their profile in eCommerce shop. Such an approach notably boosts walk-in and overall conversion rates.

The information provided from IoT solutions for retail also can concern navigation, upcoming sales, and other events, etc. that can prolong the visit and raise the possibility of the return at least during the mentioned happenings. It allows raising retention rates and extending the customer lifecycle for a wider audience.

Behavior tracking

Mostly the research works with recommendations to forming store layout are created for average goods diversity and customers. To create a truly efficient environment for the business the custom data concerning the visitors should be collected.

IoT tracking solutions

Achievements of IoT in retail stores like metering devices (for instance, infrared sensors) and analytics software enables the process without putting in significant efforts. The gathered information can be presented including in real-time in the form of heat maps, dashboard charts.

The analysis results can help discover the items that gather the most attention for its qualities or attract it for its location and ergo reveal required adjustments to the existing space planning and decor, shelf placing and structuring, goods positioning and estimated demand.

Automated Checkout

With the rise of eCommerce, the improvement of in-store experience became a necessity to keep purchasing in the brick-and-mortar facilities in the competition. Commonly on the list of its most annoying elements are long lines and slow unresponsive staff.

Bringing in automated checkouts allow addressing the problem from different angles. It allows increasing the number of required devices due to the lack of necessity to establish an appropriate working place allowing spreading customers wider and minimizing the odds of line formation. 58 percent of the innovation users find it as the actual improvement of their experience.

Automated checkout IoT

To that aspect also contributes that one of the most distributed IoT retail use cases allows reducing time spent on the checkout since besides tag reading sensors it’s equipped with elements that can establish a connection with customer smartphone and process payments without cash or credit cards.

It also diminishes the workforce operational costs and all the risks concerning them including thefts and inappropriate behavior. It also eases staffing challenges typical for minimum-wage jobs. According to the estimation (McKinsey), the technology adoption will result in lowering cashier demand up to 75% and related savings up to $380 billion per year by 2025.

Inventory management

Manual approaches to keep track of the available items become outdated since they don’t ensure the required accuracy and timeliness in modern business conditions. The out-of-stock signs make 39 percent of shoppers leave stores without a purchase.

IoT inventory management

Equipping shelves and stands with RFID tag scanners and weight sensors allow receiving notifications about misplaced or missing items so the replacements will be made without unacceptable delays. It also helps raise the cost-efficiency of inventory management and the level of security by unrevealing thefts, item damages, and losses.

Robotic workforce

Despite all the concerns related to robotic process automation it slowly but confidently entering not only industries but also customer-oriented scopes. Although it still can’t bring the value of the human touch it significantly diminishes its cons with better responsiveness and qualification.

The latest models like LoweBot can take care of the routine tasks of in-store workers and managers concerning communication with customers, inventory maintenance, running and advertising loyalty programs, cleaning and security.

IoT and robotics

The replacement of the current staff with the robotic workforce also allows real-time tracking of the task execution, opens new possibilities without additional expenses like multilingual consultations and services that allow assisting the wider group of customers disregarding cultural and attitude differences.

The Internet of Things already defines the future of retail. Despite the quite challenging learning curve for business owners and staff, the overcoming integration difficulty worth efforts as well as the adoption investments. The process can be eased with the help of a qualified and reliable retail IoT partner.

With time any expenses will result in significant savings on the now costly routine that already can’t satisfy customers. The constantly growing number of retail IoT startups only emphasizes the cooperation demand between these technology and business scopes.

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