Over the past couple of decades, the retail industry has been subject to intense and extensive changes. Suffice it to say that the sector had come a long way from the days when retail implied operations based on a bare brick and mortar store. Today, it has evolved into an ecosystem that is brimming with retail companies’ opportunities to grow and take their businesses to previously unimagined levels. This is all well and good, but one has to wonder what has driven this pronounced change? Of course, there are various factors at play here, but none quite as important as the Internet of Things (IoT). To give you a glimpse of how potent this technology has proven to be: Researchers predict IoT in retail will touch nearly $95 billion in value by 2025.
IoT has a lot to offer to this industry, i.e., its myriad and multi-faceted applications in the retail sector have translated into countless benefits. For example, it has reliably helped retailers establish substantially better relationships with the customers they serve by improving customer experiences. Among the many things IoT can do for retail operations, one can keep a close eye on the stock in the store, demand for various products, factors affecting demand, etc. All these insights are then used to ensure a seamless experience at all times. Now, let’s take a look at some of IoT’s critical applications in retail and how it contributes to the business’ growth.
- Smart shelves: As the name suggests, it involves literal shelves equipped with sensors, RFID tags, etc. To what end? Well, to deliver an ace shopping experience for customers. If a shopper is walking around the store with a shopping list on their phone, the retailer’s mobile app can send an alert when the customer walks across a shelf where they will find item(s) they need. Furthermore, the data is also sent for analysis to glean critical insights into customer behavior, product demand, etc.
- Inventory management: As mentioned above, tracking stock is vital for successful operations. Unfortunately, it is quite a challenge when done manually, but pretty effortless when you use IoT for it. Via smart shelves and other such resources across the store, IoT helps retailers monitor stock on shelves, warehouse, transit and more. This information is then used to ensure that frames are never empty, re-order products out of stock, etc.
- Location tracking: Location tracking, when combined with IoT, enables retailers to achieve a bird’s eye view of employees, inventory and more as well as how and when they are moving across the store or in transit. This, in turn, helps companies enhance efficiency in their operations, foster seamless logistics operations, and so much more.
To conclude, if any retailer that intends to thrive in today’s cut-throat market would do well to embrace retail industry software solutions fortified with IoT.