The simplest of things around us are becoming increasingly ‘smart’ — granting them the ability to identify compatible devices around them, and connect to them through any available network. The core application of Internet of Things (IoT) and its principal strength lies in the manner in which it creates an extensive labyrinth of electronic devices, various sensors, and software to accumulate and exchange information through an informational highway. The impact of IoT is immense on every organisation across industries throughout the globe. IoT is bound to reshape industries and have a massive influence in how they interact with their primary target base.
One of the major industries that would be massively influenced by the increasing reach of IoT is retail. The industry relies heavily on staying connected with the market. The retail industry would benefit substantially from the embedded networking feature in most modern devices — allowing the digitisation of process, product, and service.
IoT in Retail: The Impact
While the full potential of IoT and the extent to which it can be employed in the retail industry are yet to be defined. The present trends in the technology and foreseeable future of its advancement ensures some definitive benefits for the industry.
Refining Customer Experience
The implementation of IoT in the retail industry, would allow organisations to find opportunities that would encourage the development of a vastly dynamic and vibrant ecosystem. This ecosystem would be characterised by a sturdy connection between the physical and the digital world. This enhanced ecosystem allows real-time interaction between the retailer and its consumers irrespective of their presence in the store. This continual bidirectional relationship allows the retailer to understand the target consumer base in a manner that is unprecedented in marketing history. This insight into the customer allows the retailer to design processes and procedures that are specifically directed to enhancing the customer experience in the store and elsewhere.
Optimising Supply Chain Operations
A customer’s expectations from the retailer is continuously growing — such as the increasing expectations of faster deliveries. In their predicament of finding solutions that allow rapid last-mile deliveries; an extensive network of devices across the organisation could be well be the most viable and sustainable solution. With the growing network of each retailer, the sheer size of the market they would serve is likely to grow exponentially. The supply chain would become more complex and tangled. In the face of these challenges, it is essential that companies invest in digital channels to stay relevant in the game. IoT technologies that help in optimising supply chain routes, precise inventory tracking, and improving human management in the last mile would become the absolute necessity for any company looking to survive the rapidly changing global market.
This set of factors will work together to make it possible for the retailer to find sources of increased revenue amidst the changing customer needs and demands. These factors are essential in ensuring the success of a retailer, and fortunately, IoT is set to have the biggest impact on them.
How is IoT Changing Retail?
The impact of IoT is not limited to either the customer or the retailer. Every stakeholder that exists in this technology driven ecosystem is set to benefit in multiple ways. For the consumers, IoT would allow them to browse products with more ease, direct them to retailers who meet all their needs and demands, and help them compare competition products with few simple commands — thus easing the entire purchasing process. For the retailer, IoT can reduce inventory error, optimise supply chain management, and reduce labour cost. Additionally implementing IoT in brick-and-mortar stores would eventually help them compete with online retailers by enhancing customer experience manifold.
There are few things as potent as long lines at the billing counter in driving customers away from brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers can successfully reduce the number of customers lost due to winding lines at checkout counters through the implementation of IoT. The technology can be used to design stations that allow automated checkouts. IoT can help retailers set up a system that can read the barcode on each product that the customer has in their cart, tally the amount, and automatically deduce the cost from the customer’s registered online wallet or mobile payment app.
Automated checkout would help customers save precious time, and would allow the retailer to reduce the number of clerks working at checkout counters, thus reducing the organisation’s operational cost.
Retailers can use the IoT systems to identify customers who frequently come back to their outlet. An array of loyalty rewards for these customers would also be a definitive way to increase sales; while the reward program will also serve as a potent incentive that can grab attention of potential consumers. The retailer can set up stands all around the store where customers can log in using their respective loyalty reward programme number and a QR code-scanning feature on the retailer’s mobile app in order to access customised discounts and offers on various products based on their purchase patterns and recent browsing history.
Retailers spent a lot time, resource, and workforce in maintaining an error-free record of stock and inventory. IoT can be used to design shelves that can monitor the sale of each product in real-time and update the inventory records simultaneously to ensure that products are never out-of-stock. The shelves can be based on the products’ weight. The smart shelves would be customised to note the weight of a full shelf and then progressively calculate the number of products sold based on how lighter it gets. This IoT implementation would help in ensuring that products are not displaced from their original shelf. Each shelf would be programmed according to the weight of each product multiplied by the number of products placed, any product that disturbs the equation would send immediate alerts to the floor staff. The shelf will also record the products taken from there, the data of which can be collated at the billing counters to deter shoplifters.
There is no doubt that IoT will be instrumental in reshaping the entire retail industry drastically. Any retailers that wishes to survive the changing global markets and swim over the tide of technological advancements need to understand how important IoT is becoming by the day for every possible industry.
About Fusion Informatics
Our team prides itself in being extremely tuned-in with the current needs, demands, and wants of the retail industry in terms of IoT technology. We offer the market-leading expertise of our team to help clients build inventive and innovative IoT systems that will help their business catapult itself to the top of the global market. Our team works very closely with clients to help understand their minute needs and vision, before designing unique systems that are a perfect fit to the word and spirit of their organisation.