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How IoT is changing the future of the retail industry

With the advent of IoT, the retail industry has gotten much-needed impetus to enhance sales. Virtual internet connectivity has already gained ground as it is transforming a number of industries, thereby changing the traditional landscape. IoT helps you establish a connection with various physical objects, electronic devices and sensors, where information and data can be shared without any need of human interaction.

The global business fraternity has welcomed IoT with extended arms. If the research report by Global Market Insights Inc. is to be believed, IoT in the retail industry will surge to new heights and reach $30 billion by 2024. Thus, the retail sector will be able to not only augment sales, but also offer a more enhanced customer experience and manage inventory better.

According to a study, about 77% of the retailers agree that IoT has helped them to serve their customers better, whereas the same number of early movers in retail believes that IoT has increased the level of cooperation with their partners to deliver quality products.

1. The amalgamation of beacons with IoT

You are probably aware of beacon technology, which has been a major supporter of retailers. It is a small Bluetooth radio transmitter that uses low-energy Bluetooth connections to automatically send push notifications to customer devices as they approach stores. Moreover, it has rightly been regarded as a close component of the internet of things. One of the key benefits of beacon technology is that it enhances user experience and productivity. Since these are small devices, you can install them anywhere in the store.

Potential customers can be informed about attractive offers, rewards and discounts in real time as they come in close proximity. Moreover, beacons help consumers with in-store navigation and retailers are able to gather vital customer data they can use to then further enhance customer loyalty and increase sales. It is one of the easiest possible ways to reach out your targeted audience.

2. Running the store successfully based on IoT data

IoT sensors and beacon devices help a great deal in collecting data which, in turn, can assist in operating the store successfully. Furthermore, you can skillfully manage your store employees as well as reduce energy consumption. In fact, in-store marketing and advertising are also getting new direction with the help of beacons.

Smart cameras and sensors can do real-time tracking of customer location. Plus, you can collect information about the shopping behavior of the customer, including his personal likes and dislikes. Sales employees or attendants can focus specifically on those products when the customer visits the store for purchasing, saving a lot of time both for customer and attendants.

3. The concept of smart shelves

The way of operating a business nowadays has undergone a drastic change. It’s time to say goodbye to all those traditional methods and adopt innovative techniques, such as the new concept of smart shelves. The idea of a smart shelf system depends on three important elements: RFID tags, RFID readers and antennas.

An RFID tag is something you find on a product. It has a microchip antenna and integrated circuit which transmit data to an RFID reader. The information gathered from the RFID tag is sent to the IoT device, and is then stored and analyzed. An RFID reader is a device that collects the information from RFID tags used to track objects. Lastly, an RFID antenna helps detect the frequency — high, low or ultra-high.

Until now, inventory management has been a time-consuming and monotonous task. However, with the introduction of the smart shelf, workers will be able to check inventory and stock of goods in real time. They can also alert store managers if something is running out of stock.

Thus, IoT technology proves to be handy for stores, helping retailers avoid the overstocking of goods, as well as informing them if anything is falling short. In addition, it also prevents theft of goods as each product has an RFID tag connected to RFID reader.

4. Optimizing supply chain management

One of the specific areas in retail where IoT has brought a sea of change is in logistics and supply chain management. It is not only helping track the shipment of goods, but has delved deep into providing more crucial and sensitive information.

Let’s me explain with an example. Say you are a retailer who deals with food items. Now, as you know, most of these products are perishable and have to be stored in a cool place. It would be helpful if you could receive a notification that the temperature of the location where food items are stored has risen and it’s time to take necessary action. Timely action would prevent incurring a huge loss.

Another aspect of supply chain management that has been improved is fleet management. Thanks to IoT, a robust connection can be established between different stakeholders, including manufacturers, transport companies and retailers. All the stakeholders can easily share information.

IoT in fleet management is based on three technologies: RFID, GPS and on-board diagnostics. RFID helps track products whereas GPS and on-board diagnostics help obtain real-time information on the best possible routes, condition of the vehicle and weather updates. Sensors installed in windshields, tires or wipers send the information in real time.

5. The use of robots gaining popularity

The internet of things is also significantly transforming the retail sector by replacing humans with robots. According to statistics from Business Intelligence, about 2.8 million robots are expected to be shipped within next five years.

In fact, some retailers, such as Target, have already started to test robots in stocking shelves and taking inventory. In China, there are restaurants where robots are serving food to customers in place of waiters.

6. Advertise cost-effectively with digital signage

Digital signage is a well-known term in the advertising and marketing industry. But when you combine it with IoT, it offers retailers cost-effective advertising. It is a subsidiary of electronic signage or electronic sign displays such as LCD or LED projections, or e-paper for exhibiting digital images, videos or webpages.

It is found in public places for exhibitions, outdoor ads and marketing. So, how does it save costs? You don’t have to adopt traditional methods of advertising, such as print or electronic media, which often prove to be costly.

If we go by market stats, digital signage will increase from $19.61 billion in 2016 to $32.84 billion by 2023. Digital signage not only offers an opportunity to showcase your advertisements impressively, but also improves the in-store experience due to the presence of IoT. For instance, you can change the prices of products in real time. And with the help of beacons, you can collect valuable customer data, including when the customer usually visits the store for shopping, does he buy a particular item at any specific time and more.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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