Key Retail IoT Applications of the Future

Key Retail Internet of Things Applications of the Future

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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 retail IoT market, here are the four key retail IoT applications that will be critical for retailers in their efforts to thrive in the changing business environment:

    • Predictive equipment maintenance will be used to apply the sensors used for managing energy, predicting machine failure, or detecting other store-related issues such as in Safeway Supermarkets – setting up the temperature of the freezer.
    • Smart transportation will impact the transport, tracking and route optimization for retailers. For example, IoT is able to understand to a much higher degree of accuracy than current GPS applications concerning how close a clothing pallet is to a given store.
    • Demand-aware warehouses in the near future will be driven by in-store and online shopping demand. These warehouses will be in open spaces (rather than in traditional warehouses where robots pick up merchandise in column racks) and where automated pallets will self-organize based upon real-time demand.
    • Smart store applications can analyze mall traffic across several retailers to understand the entire shopping journey for shoppers. With mall traffic information, these retailers will reorient their store displays to maximize convenience for their shoppers.  Smart stores can additionally monitor (via video or Wi-Fi foot traffic) whenever a customer is dwelling in a product area.  Afterward, management can consequently send an associate to assist the customer.  From the customer monitoring data, management can adjust the store layout for a more efficient customer visit.  As an example of a smart store benefitting from an IoT deployment, here is the Thomas Pink IoT deployment case study.

Thomas Pink Case Study

In 2017, Thomas Pink (a prominent British shirt store) management deployed the Acuitas IoT platform (Intel’s Responsive Retail Sensor, in-store analytics by RetailNext, RFID tags by NextGen Packing, software by SATO Global Solutions and Valmarc Corp, and BT’s Cloud of Clouds networking services) in their Wall Street NYC store.  The digital IoT platform enables Thomas Pink to track in real-time the movement of merchandise and people within the store, using big data analytics to predict shopper behavior and provide a foundation for real-time interactive in-store experiences.  The digital IoT platform has additionally helped Thomas Pink personalize customer service, optimize store layout, improve employee workflow, reduce the costs of carrying products, and increase their sales revenue.

Some real-life examples of the benefits of this digital IoT platform are:

    1. If a customer picks up a men’s shirt, carries it elsewhere in the store and then abandons it, the next potential customer who is looking for that product may not be able to find it. In the old days, the sales assistant will get tied up looking for that product.  Now, using the IoT sensor or RFID tag, the sales assistant will know where to exactly find the item. With the sensor or tag, the sales assistant thus will save time and give the customer a better shopping experience.

 

    1. When combined with digital signage, IoT platforms can prompt a customer buying a shirt to consider a matching tie or cufflinks, thereby improving customer satisfaction and helping to increase the store’s sales.

 

    1. Fitting rooms can be transformed. With smart fitting rooms, customers can look at themselves in mirror to see themselves wearing different Thomas Pink shirts or accessories.

 

    1. Replenishment orders of garments sold out can be done automatically by sending an alert notifying a sales assistant, rather than typically waiting until the end of the day for a stock check.

 

In my next blog post, I will discuss additional retailer IoT case studies that demonstrate the benefits of deploying IoT applications.