Forbes, quoting from the Zebra 2017 Retail Vision Study, states that 70% of retail decision makers globally are ready to adopt the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve customer experiences. This highlights a growing recognition of the IoT as a means of delivering key goals for retail businesses. In this article, we take a look at the rapidly growing role of the IoT in enabling retailers to expand their capabilities and drive new technologies.
The Internet of Things is being employed on an increasing scale across all sectors to drive efficiencies and create new opportunities, and is set to have a particularly disruptive impact on the retail industry.
Many retailers are already leveraging the IoT to enhance customer experience, with applications like IoT-connected digital signage providing targeted real-time updates, or engaging customers through interactive technology. The latter ranges from smart mirrors which allow customers to try on clothes virtually and explore outfit options, to “lift and learn” solutions which display relevant information on interactive screens when products are picked up.
Retailers are also taking advantage of the IoT in the form of iBeacon technology, which delivers personalised messages to customers’ mobile devices based on micro-location. The IoT not only enables heightened customer engagement but also presents an opportunity for retailers to better understand customer behaviour through collecting and sharing data on real-time location.
Another key area in which the IoT is driving transformation is supply chain performance and operational efficiency. RFID technologies are being deployed in the retail industry to track inventory throughout the supply chain, facilitating stock management and communicating product information. Maintaining optimum stock levels and reducing stock-checking time improves customer satisfaction and increases efficiency. By combining RFID technology with barcodes and QR codes, customers can also scan products with their mobile devices to access product information and stock availability, providing a more connected experience.
Detecting potential equipment failures before they occur is highly important to retailers, with IoT-enabled sensors being embedded in equipment (such as refrigeration units in grocery stores) to monitor changes in temperature and other variables. As well as predicting system issues that can affect productivity and the quality of goods, the implementation of IoT solutions to monitor lighting and temperature can lead to more cost-effective and eco-friendly energy usage. Smart lighting technologies are already being deployed by major retailers for a number of reasons – from saving energy through to generating different ambiences within stores to enrich customer experience.
It is clear that the IoT, with the huge number of applications it supports, is already providing benefits across all industries and particularly in the retail sector, where its deployment and impact are set to grow exponentially. Connecting the IoT in all industries, Westbase.io’s 4G LTE and hybrid networking solutions are cloud-managed, secure, and flexible. For further information on connecting the IoT and other applications in retail, read our Solutions for Retail & Hospitality page.