The Internet of Things (IoT) has many sectors ripe for disruption. The retail environment is no exception, and operators are taking notice.
IoT refers to everyday devices – be they watches, toasters, thermostats or even a fork that detects obnoxious ramen noodle slurping – that have embedded internet technology, sending and receiving data to improve their use.
We’ve all more than likely experienced an automated check-out at the grocery store by now, but the Amazon Go store in downtown Seattle has taken this to a whole new level. With no visible transactions taking hands, the store automatically connects with the shopper via a smartphone app, then the items selected by the shopper are accounted for by the store’s many cameras and multiple sensors. The shopper can leave the store, and payment will occur through the app.
Location-based technology will also allow retailers to track customer behavior while they’re in the store. It can be as simple as allowing the shopping mall customers to locate specific store locations via an interactive map. Location-based offers can also allow customers who have opted in to receive personalized promotions as they walk through certain areas of a store, or offer those promotions based on past shopping habits.
Not all of IoT’s benefits are consumer-facing. Inventory management and accuracy stands to improve, as smart shelves can sense when items need to be restocked. Temperature control within freezer spaces has long been used in order to correct fluctuation that may occur on specific shelves throughout the day. Going even further, companies like Walmart utilize IoT sensors in refrigeration units to detect food spoilage.
Enhancing the supply chain
Supply chain efficiency will also benefit. Sensors attached to products can track their movement, from the farm to the retail outlet, for example. Data like storage time, temperature and lighting levels while in transit, humidity and other factors can be transmitted to the operator for quality control purposes.
It’s clear that the surface has barely been scratched. The global value of the IoT retail market was $19.46 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach $94.44 billion by 2025, according to a report from Transparency Market Research.