Why Retailers Will Benefit From IoT Solutions

By Paul Fitzgerald on April 25, 2017

Retailers are looking to maximize the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) in a variety of ways that will enhance customer relationships, save money and increase efficiency. The interconnectivity of machines through embedded devices allows for retailers to stay on top of customer preferences and spending habits, all the while keeping abreast of the volume and condition of products that are being offered.

This intensive connectivity is already happening in more retail outlets than you think, thanks to IoT technology. And the practice, which is helping retailers enhance all customer shopping experiences, improve efficiencies and boost sales, is poised to explode over the next few years.

By 2020, Cisco claims more than 50 billion objects will be IoT-capable and Zebra Technologies “2017 Retail Vision Study” reports 70 percent of all retailers are expected to adopt IoT technology by 2021.

Simply, the IoT is an infrastructure that connects devices over the internet, letting them talk to people, applications and each other. The most well-known example is the smart fridge -- a refrigerator that uses cameras and other sensors to determine and text the homeowner when, say, the milk carton is empty or past its use-by date. Other, more retail-related examples are IoT devices that enable remote climate control in commercial greenhouses and sensors that keep track of the quality and volume of paint products in warehouses before disbursement to retail outlets. 

Brick and mortar retailers are using it to monitor customers in their stores. They can identify which parts of the store attract the highest foot traffic, what shoppers do or don’t add to their carts and baskets and how long they stop to browse certain products.

Other uses include:

  • Retail grocery market baskets that can track purchases, what items are ignored and which products are under consideration, alert management as to how individuals select items and bring to their attention prevailing trends that might require adjusting product placement or display.

  • Automatic checkout. Customers can be instantly charged for products when they place them in their basket or container.

  • Temperature sensors are being used to gauge the current temperature of coolers and other storage units and alert operators of everything from restaurants, rural roadside stores or urban grocery retailers when heat sensitive food products, such as ice cream, are at risk.

  • Better queue management is possible as the interconnectivity of devices informs retailers how many people are in line while also providing accurate data on wait times.

  • And thanks to beacons that communicate with our cell phones and tablets, retailers can now market items as to customers as they make their way up particular isles.

And that’s just the start. IoT technology can also deliver greater visibility into supply chain operations to alleviate out-of-stocks and optimize selections based on customer preferences. IoT can solve supply chain constraints and improve inventory management. It can also enable higher levels of customer service and manage inventory levels locally more effectively.

Paul Fitzgerald is a science and technology writer with Inventorspot.com and blogs for CNN International Report. He is also tech and celebrity writer with Hoss Magazine, one of North America's leading home lifestyle publications. 

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