The retail industry – like many others – is experiencing rapid transformation with solutions such as the Internet of Things (IoT) taking centre stage. IoT has many uses and benefits for retail including the ability to offer more personalised shopping experiences, increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, boost sales and also improve inventory management.
It is estimated that 70% of retail decision makers across the globe are adopting IoTto improve customer experiences which emphasises the need to change the way that you do business to meet the demands of today’s connected customer.
Using IoT in retail doesn’t only improve the customer experience, it drives the customer experience by giving businesses the opportunity to gain a better insight into their customer preferences and the opportunity to create a more personalised and interactive ‘shopping’ experience.
Keep reading to learn more about the practical applications of IoT in retail and how they can enhance your customer experience…
Further personalise your customer interactions
It’s no surprise that customer buying habits are changing and that they expect a lot more than just ‘buying a product’, which is why personalisation has become such a large part of the buying experience across many industries.
One example of how to use IoT to improve personalisation in retail is through the use of sensors that can be fixed to product areas and are triggered by customer actions. The retailer could then offer instant discounts, detailed product descriptions or alternative purchases straight to the customers’ mobile, in response to where they are shopping in the store or their previous buying habits.
Personalisation doesn’t mean you need to have a physical store
IoT can also boost personalisation for retailers who don’t have a shop floor… IoT can recognise shopping patterns and search trends from social media and online browsing which enables businesses to advertise – and ultimately sell – targeted products to their prospects and customers based on online behaviours.
This high level of personalisation leads to customer satisfaction and enhanced customer engagement.
Did you know…?
One online women’s clothing retailers now offer a pair of internet-connected shorts that measures the shopper and ensures that their new jeans will fit perfectly! That is a transformation for customer service.
An uninterrupted and efficient supply chain is crucial to the success of any retail business; with the IoT, you can be certain that your supply chain will run smoothly. IoT ensures that goods move from one place to another successfully and enables the tracking of goods right from the production stage to delivery.
With RFID (radio frequency identification) and GPS (global positioning system) technology, you will have complete visibility of your items in transit – from their location to their stored temperature and the ability to manage their route of travel which will help to inform arrival times and help to avoid product/delivery losses.
What about in the warehouse and on the shop floor?
IoT retail solutions can help with inventory control and tracking: packages and products can be fitted with smart tags which track your items across the supply chain, including returns, which allows retail businesses to accurately keep pace with customer demand.
Optimising the buyer journey
This data combined with real-time sales floor inventory will allow employees to re-stock when needed and to better position the products that are in demand. Sensors such as the Columbus solution ‘SpaceMax’ can also be placed around stores to gather data of the physical customer journey which will allow businesses to optimise their floor plans, product placements and marketing materials to further increase sales.
‘SpaceMax’ can also be used within warehouses to improve the picking and packing process. The data collected can aid the development of highlighting the fastest routes to certain products and by connected other devices, you can see the exact location of that product too, this can boost warehouse efficiency and relieves stress for your employees.
Have you heard about the smart shelf?
Smart shelves are suited to inventory management and can automatically monitor inventory and send managers alerts if a certain item is running low or if its date will expire soon.
Smart shelves are also an important part of making intelligent insights to customer behaviour by monitoring inventory and transmitting data about items and movements which can highlight ways to improve their services, increase interactions and boost sales.
Improved customer experience = a boost in profits
From this post alone, we know that it has never been so important for retail businesses to grab hold of their customers’ attention in order to create further opportunities for sales, drive more customer engagement and build better brand loyalty.
The implementation of IoT can provide that vital connection point for retailers and customers, providing the new all-important route to engage with and meet the needs of their customers.
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In part one of my guide to digitalisation in retail, we explored the first three steps to starting the digitalisation process, including the importance of profiling your customers, revisiting your roadmap and conducting a technology evaluation.
It was in 1997 that a colleague showed me a bulletin board on the World Wide Web, while I was implementing standalone ERP solutions for medium-sized businesses. I hadn’t heard of Amazon at that moment in time. The key driver of digital change for the retail systems I was implementing was the move to telesales, away from the keying in of orders from paper order forms. This was just the beginning.
B2B and B2C organisations are in a race – to digitally transform business operations in line with other industries. But it’s an obstacle course for those with a legacy retail presence to deal with, purchase patterns to monitor, and suppliers and distribution channels to manage – and no two contracts are ever the same.