By Barton Goldenberg
As the Internet of Things (IoT) phenomena becomes more prevalent in the marketplace, major retailer brands are adopting various IoT applications. From ISM’s analysis of the IoT retail marketplace, here are four key retail IoT case studies that demonstrate major retailers’ efforts to thrive in the new IoT business environment:
- Rebecca Minkoff (a prominent brand targeted to the millennial generation) has reinvented the in-store dressing room with smart mirrors at the Soho store. RFID tags are on each piece of clothing. Once in dressing room with smart mirrors, shoppers can access product screens that show the item styled with different looks, sizes and colors. The smart mirror also allows customers to search and request products from a store associate, try different lighting within the dressing room and store items for a later pick-up. Customers will receive a unique, personalized fitting room experience, while simultaneously Rebecca Minkoff receives volumes of data concerning every customer such as what did each customer try on and buy, along with how each customer will pair different items for their purchase. Rebecca Minkoff additionally uses a completely self-checkout system (QueueHop) to provide a more frictionless mode of shopping.
- Target’s use of IoT beacons across 50 stores that enables hyperlocal content accessible to shoppers via a newsfeed-like stream on Target app’s homepage (called ‘Target Run’). For the customers that have downloaded this Target app and enabled Bluetooth on their phones, they will receive product recommendations related to the department that they are currently located in either as a push notification or as an in-app update on their phone. In addition, this same information can also be found on the new Target Run page, which operates like a social media newsfeed. So, an in-store customer might receive notifications about apparels that are trending on Pinterest. Then as the shopper moves to a different department (e.g., grocery), the promotions for that department will move to the top of the newsfeed. The customer thus benefits by receiving real-time information, based on beacons, within the store department that the customer is currently locate.
- Ralph Lauren’s Polo Shirts measure heart rate and calories burned of their wearer. Polo Tech is a new line of smart workout shirts that monitors vital activity statistics (e.g., heart rate, calories burned, steps taken, breathing depth, etc.) and is accessible on the Ralph Lauren mobile app. Each garment has a sensor-filled black box that snaps into place near the user’s rib cage. This black box allows users to synchronize the desired statistical information to their iPhone app, thereby allowing users to track biometrics and adjust/customize their workouts accordingly.
- For Amazon, Jeff Bezos has stated that if Amazon does not own the shopping or food industry in 20 years, they will not survive. Amazon has purchased Whole Foods and has a large investment in IoT technologies. As an example of their IoT investment, Amazon’s Dash Button (launched earlier this year) allows for frictionless replenishment ordering. The Dash Button is a single-use Wi-Fi enabled ordering device that is tied to Amazon’s Dash Replenishment Service (e.g., for washing machine detergent, computer printers, Gillette razors, Olay moisturizer, Tassimo coffee, etc.). Once a product is sold out, the retailer employee can click on the Amazon shopping smartphone app for immediate replenishment via Amazon Prime. An Amazon Dash Button can furthermore be configured using Amazon’s shopping smartphone app and allows an order to be cancelled within 30 minutes of placement.
In addition, Amazon’s Echo Look app has a built-in depth and trend sensing eye. This app can be used to: size up people’s full-length selfies, enable the AI to automatically know its owner’s size and recommend correctly sized clothing to buy. It furthermore offers a fashion feedback service called Style Check that uses machine learning to rate fashion choices and helps users choose between outfit pairs. Amazon Echo Look app will recommend clothes for the customer’s use based upon his/her style selection. Users can conduct virtual try-ons of clothes. The app’s AI engine will furthermore recommend clothing styles for the customer.
Amazon’s Alexa opens the opportunity for Amazon to get a far more intimate perspective on how its customers think about fashion as they try things on within the privacy of their bedroom. Amazon went from zero in clothing sales to Number 1 in the US within four years. While retailers continue to waste money on inventory management, Amazon is aiming to use data to eliminate inventory altogether. With Alexa, the customer can have their own fashion showroom in their home. The customer can try and evaluate different clothing. Afterward, the customer can order the desired pieces of clothing and the clothing will be delivered to the customer’s home within an hour. It thus enables the consumer to exercise their purchasing decisions in a more convenient manner than in the past. Even if some fashion giants technically have the scale and resources to adapt to the big data era, few are taking the plunge – which is enabling Amazon gobble up market share.
In my next blog post, I will discuss my key observations concerning the IoT for retail phenomena.
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Barton Goldenberg, is the founder and president of ISM Inc., customer-centric strategists/implementers serving best-in-class organizations globally. As a CRM leader for 30 years, he was among the first three inductees in the CRM Hall of Fame. Recognized as a leading “customer-focused” author, his latest book, The Definitive Guide to Social CRM, is hailed as the roadmap for Social CRM success. Barton is a popular speaker on “maximizing customer relationships to gain market insights, customers and profits”. He is a long-term columnist for CRM Magazine and speaker for CRMevolution and frequently quoted in the media.