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 my analysis of the IoT retail marketplace, here are my key observations concerning IoT for retail:
- The need for best-in-class retailers to survive in the current digital deluge environment and to be on top of their game will continue. Think about how Apple has impacted retail music stores and how Amazon has impacted retail book stores and perhaps in the future: grocery stores with the Whole Foods purchase. New fashion concepts will keep popping up such as: clothing for rent, clothing received through the mail and clothing tailored to the customer’s exact needs. The men’s apparel company Bonobos’ showroom strategy: a store that only houses product to look at, offers no stock and requires customers to complete their purchases online may provide insight into the clothing store of the future.
- The smart store is a natural outcome of present day market changes and the growing potential for the smart phone to control much if not the entire commercial experience. At present, there are new ways to pay for products using mobile devices. A prominent example is the Amazon Go grocery store in Seattle that allows shoppers to swipe the Amazon app to their smartphone and after completing their shopping, walk out of the store. The store’s sensors will automatically record what products they had picked up. These sensors will afterward charge the prices of each picked-up product directly to the shopper’s Amazon Smart accounts without the shopper waiting on line.
- An important goal of every retailer will be to determine how best to use IoT as a means of securing long-term customer loyalty as illustrated by these potential examples:
- Proactively tell runners when it is time for a new pair of running shoes based on the number of miles that he/she has run.
- Remind a sun-sensitive customer that it is time to apply more sunscreen based on the outside temperature and user’s location.
- Remind a customer that it is time to take their medication or review the types of medications that the customer is taking.
From these examples, the retail must deal with these fundamental questions: (1) How to create and implement a successful smart store? (2) How to work optimally with the connected consumer? The key ingredient in determining the retailer’s response to these two fundamental questions will be the retailer’s ability to sense, understand and act upon IoT data with analytics that allows a retailer to focus on better serving their customers and creating value.
In my next blog post, I will discuss the benefits and the obstacles that retailer management will encounter for an IoT implementation.
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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.