IoT (the internet of things) is showing up in just about every aspect of our lives. From home to work to retail stores, IoT is integrating into your life, and you may not even realize it all the time. IoT is gaining a lot of traction when it comes to using in retail stores all around the world. IoT in retail aims to help shoppers shop more efficiently, save time in stores searching for items, not having to use checkout lanes, and much more. Imagine walking into a store you shop at every week, perhaps a grocery store, and as you walk through the door, special coupons are sent to your phone with recommended and personalized sale items for things you buy regularly or items suggested to you based on something you buy often.
Technology such as the above is the future of our retail shopping experience, and things are just starting to get underway. Below we will look at a few examples of how IoT technology will affect retail shopping and how it already has.
We know that Amazon is a pioneer in the technology, retail, and online shopping experience. Although retail locations for Amazon are new, they feature even more technology and an automated shopping experience than you may expect for this day and age. You will be able to place your items directly in a shopping cart, the products will register on their own, and you will pay as you go and never step foot in a checkout like ever again.
Tags are placed on each item, and the shopping basket or cart and the entrance of the stores read these tags, so they know the exact items you have. From there, the customer’s Amazon account it automatically charged and no checking out in the store is needed. The tags on the merchandise also act as an anti-theft function so stealing from the Amazon Go store is virtually impossible.
Lululemon, a high-end athletic clothing brand for men, women, and kids is seeking out ways to use technology and IoT in their stores as well. They use a unique stock inventory management system that helps customers directly when they are shopping in the store. When you are in a dressing room trying on clothing or walking through the store, you can scan the barcode on the clothing tag to see if there are any different sized or colors online or in another store close to your location. This eliminates the need to speak with a store associate if you do not want to talk with someone at the time. NFID technology is used to achieve these goals.
Shopper mapping is a newer technology we see popping up in some stores throughout the world, and it is expected to become more popular over the coming years. Sensors are strategically placed throughout a retail store and can help provide insights about the store to help improve business and the shopper experience. For instance, the sensors can determine what areas of the store have the most traffic at any given time. Sensors can help marketers, stores, and brands to decide where to place specific items, where to put products that are on sale, and move particular departments or particular merchandise in a store to new and better locations. It would also help eliminate any dead space in a store where no one tends to shop.
Tech such as heat maps, customer trace, and video cameras can help the store and marketers determine where specific items should go to improve sales. The information collected by this tech can be sent directly back to store managers and marketers so they can learn how they want to move forward and adjust their store's appearance and marketing and sales strategy.
We once thought that retail or brick and mortar stores would be a thing of the past, but with the help of technology and IoT, retail stores will begin the thrive once more. IoT in retail doesn’t just impact the customer’s shopping experience for the better, but it provides some of the most valuable insight into shopping patterns and other essential information for stores, brands, and markets to help increase profits and sales.
In the coming years, you should expect IoT in retail to become more advanced and prevalent as engineers, marketers, and businessmen and businesswomen continue to push retail-shopping experience to the future.