The retail industry has been witness to an unprecedented change, mainly led by events that no one could predict or control. The onset of the pandemic followed by the stay-at-home and social distancing norms led to an incredible surge in online retail figures. Statistics indicate that Amazon sales went up by 25% from February 2020 onwards which is when people around the world became aware of the seriousness of the virus.
Digital retail was always considered a very promising avenue, but no one could have predicted the speed at which this mode of business has been readily accepted by masses around the world. The flipside of this massive surge is the consistently high pressure environments in which physical businesses have to first compete and then deliver.
This also puts immense pressure on the delivery infrastructure of businesses that are fighting to ward off buyers’ inherent mistrust in online purchases and the lack of tech fluency all of which make long term success difficult to achieve. The pandemic has made many businesses rethink their strategies and made them more accepting of the benefits that digitization offers them.
One of the most important technologies that retail businesses can rely on to improve operations is IoT. Many IoT solutions for the retail segment are highly capable to seamlessly integrate brands, products and customers to offer a cohesive and rewarding purchasing experience. IoT in the retail industry is expected to grow to almost a $100 billion industry worldwide by 2025. This is one of the primary reasons for the growth in IoT development services around the world.
Some of the main applications of IoT in the retail segment are:
Monitor and reduce wait times
Prolonged waiting times at stores is one of the most frustrating experiences that have led to many shoppers ditching physical stores and moving to online purchases. One of the main reasons is the seamless shopping experience that online stores provide with quick checkout times. IoT provides practical solutions by allowing brands to regulate in-store wait times by providing insights on how long a user has been waiting, suggest sectional billing or offer alternate activities that can put their time to better use.
Many leading brands have already started using such solutions in their stores. For example, Disney has vowed to manage their lines using IoT-enabled bands (aptly called Magicband). This will allow supervisors to understand pain points and assign additional staff members to such areas and increase the speed of service. Such measures ensure visitors feel valued and retain customer loyalty.
Encourage customer loyalty
Wearable technology has already proven to be a success in fitness and healthcare. Retail companies can also benefit by identifying loyal customers. Hotels can use wearables to identify premium guests and offer additional bonuses or access to select services within the premises. They can also avail additional discounts during their stay. Such wearables are a non-invasive and discrete method to encourage loyal customers and convey your gratitude to those who stay loyal to the brand.
Optimize supply chain
Smart implementation of GPS and RFID technologies allows businesses to keep track of all deliverables. A unified view will help businesses monitor delivery capabilities and provide timely updates to customers about delayed deliveries as well as deliveries that will be done before time. Customers like having such information provided.
IoT also offers impressive applications when it comes to testing new routes and modes of delivery to identify the cheapest and quickest methods that saves time as well as money.
Improve in-store efficiency
IoT provides many solutions that make in-store operations highly efficient, such as:
- Automated packing
- Management of multiple SKU’s
- Drones for inventory management
- Connected devices for cogent facility management
Effectively implementing IoT practices also helps retailers redesign their stores and provide an enriching experience to customers. Modern fitting rooms with intelligent suggestions based on past purchases and connected technology can also improve the experience while also reducing manpower requirements for establishments, creating a win-win for all.