The Internet of Things is revolutionizing the retail industry, coming in it with the improved shopping experience, automated business processes, enhanced digital marketing, and optimized inventory and supply chain management.
Providing retailers with various advantages, IoT technology also enables them to boost sales and increase customer loyalty. Oracle discovered that when applying RFID tags, retail companies can achieve 99% inventory accuracy, a 50% reduction in out-of-stocks, and a 70% reduction in shrinkage.
The global IoT retail market is predicted to grow from $14 billion in 2015 to $36 billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 20%. In its report about the Internet of Things, Verizon found that retailers believe in the IoT potential and have a positive attitude towards adopting IoT in their work:
- 77% of retailers said that IoT solutions help improve the customer experience;
- 89% of companies said they got the understanding of customer shopping habits, needs, and preferences thanks to using IoT solutions.
Promising to innovate and transform the retail industry, IoT solutions are becoming widely introduced for solving a wide range of issues. Here I’ve listed the main use cases describing how IoT is applied by retailers and what benefits they do receive.
IoT applications in Retail
Beacon alerts & in-store navigation
Customer interactions are a key success factor in all business. Through beacons, retailers can easily reach the user audience, increase customer loyalty, and raise profit. Beacons are IoT Bluetooth-enabled devices that use low-energy Bluetooth connections to automatically send push notifications directly to user smartphones once they appear in the operating area.
As beacons are small, they can be attached to almost any place, for instance, walls and counters. In the retail industry, beacons are mainly used for customer in-store navigation, sending push notifications, and collecting customer data.
In connection with mobile applications, retailers can motivate customers to make more purchases by notifying them about discounts and special offerings when they enter the coverage zone, generally near a certain shop. Also, in large shopping centers, beacons are irreplaceable for navigating customer and showing them the best routes to the place they need.
Customer data plays a key role in any business dealing with customers. Retail companies do need to know their audience in order to make them make purchases and increase profit while delivering an amazing personalized experience. Satisfied customers are returning clients.)
IoT solutions suit great for collecting customer data, including the determination of customer buying habits, needs, preferences, favorite routes in the shopping center, and the most popular goods as well.
By sending all these data to the analytical system, where it’s processed and analyzed, retailers can find out what they should improve. In some cases, for example, it will be better to change the placement of shelves or clothes. Also, with the audience understanding retailers can launch successful marketing campaigns and provide personalization.
Personalized shopping experience
Traditionally, customer relationships were built on the basis of face-to-face communications. For now, personalized experience takes the center stage and significantly impacts consumer purchasing decisions.
To boost sales and retain customers, retail companies are adopting IoT solutions to deliver the best shopping experience possible. By using beacons, mobile apps, push notifications, and customer analytics, retailers get the ability to understand the needs and preferences of their customers and ensure successful targeting when creating advertising campaigns.
Supply chain management
Like in many other sectors, supply chain management takes an important part in the retail too. Retailers integrate IoT solutions for load tracking, driver activity monitoring, tracing the delivery process, transportation management, as well as viewing load/driver location in real time. This way, the Internet of Things can enable a transparent supply chain management and help achieve “just-in-time” delivery much easier.
Optimized asset management
IoT applications are widely used for asset tracking and management. Using RFID tags, mobile apps, and other technologies for inventory tracking, retail companies can accomplish up to 100% inventory accuracy, minimize unexpected out-of-stocks, enable end-to-end store inventory management, and increase sales margins by up to 10% as a result.
What’s more, IoT solutions provide retailers with the ability to track the assortment of goods, analyze product popularity, and check out the information about goods any time they need, including their availability in the store, brand name, price, and description.
As you see, there are many useful IoT applications in the retail industry. With the use of additional devices and technologies, improvements in sensors, enhanced connectivity and machine learning tools, retailers automate operations, optimize various processes, reduce costs, and deliver the personalized experience.