IoT and Retail: A Connected World
The retail industry has adopted technology at an unprecedented way right from the cloud, mobile, RFID to beacons. This has been done to enhance the customer experience and better shopping experience to increase customer loyalty. It is important to mention that store owners are incorporating sensors in their key areas and connecting them through cloud technology creating a gateway that enables real-time data analysis related to sales, products and customers preferences.
One can say that IoT devices and connected technologies are taking the retail industry by storm. According to statistics available 96 percent of retailers are all set to adopt IoT in their stores for enhanced experiences. Examples include the following:
Smart Racks or Shelves: Taking pioneering business models, retailers are now putting up smart shelves in their stores which consist of three essential elements RFID tag, an RFID reader, and an antenna. The RFID tags are placed on the goods and have an integrated circuit and an antenna which has a microchip that transmits data to the RFID reader for an interception. Information that is collected from these RFID tags is then sent to an IoT platform, where it is amassed and analyzed. The advantages of these smart racks can also be used for inventory management which has till now been termed as an expensive and tiring process. These smart shelves can be enabled to be automatically monitored and alert the retailer in case a particular item which is on high demand list is running low, or its consumption date will expire soon.
Beacons have culminated into a more widely used device which use low-energy Bluetooth connections to mechanically send push announcements directly to a shoppers’ smartphones once they are in close range of the store. These customers are already signed up with the store, and the beacons alert them of any new sales, discounts, and offers in real-time, making them attracted towards the store as they feel special. Beacons are cost-effective, handy, small and can be placed or attached to walls and places where customers are likely to pass from. Retailers can also utilize beacons for customer in-store navigation, distributing push messages, and gathering customer data. These beacons once coupled with mobile apps can also be used to boost sales and increase customer loyalty as retailers can easily reach their target audience and enhance their shopping experience.
Robots have the perspective to considerably modify the retail sector. Business Insider Intelligence suggests 2.8 Mn enterprise robots are or have been shipped between 2016 and 2021. Numerous organizations have already made these robots a part of their retail strategy to ease customer navigation and in-store experience. For example, Target has already tested robots in one of their locations to assist stock shelves and keep track of inventory. Eateries in China have also started substituting waiters with robots. Numerous organizations have already picked pace in building service robots that facilitate shoppers swiftly in finding their products as well as guarantee the shelves stay stocked.
Digital signage assists retail firms in offering a more tailored and interactive shopping experience for customers. Digital signage solutions like iPad screens, intuitive touch screens, digital-out-of-home applications (DOOH), and in-store digital screens, help retailers make an impression on their customers and augment sales. Through digital signage applications, retailers can save costs related to traditional print media and push customer engagement to a whole new level. Digital signage can not only assist in becoming a useful and attractive medium of advertisement but also enhance in-store experience, owing to IoT. For example, digital signage can push ads and price changes on store screens in real-time making it easier for customers to make their choices. Also, digital signage can be programmed by accumulating contextual cues and patterns from the customers and establishing connections based on their expectations. Using IoT technology, digital screens can exhibit not only commercials and catalogs but also personalized promotions based on collected customer data.