The retail industry has been completely transformed by technology over the last number of years.
From the way that stores operate internally on a day-to-day basis to how consumers shop for and buy products to marketing strategies, the world of retail is a completely different animal from what it once was. While access to the internet, ever-evolving software packages, smartphones, and new technologies have had a huge impact on the retail industry up until now, smart technologies like IoT, are set to have a massive effect moving forward.
IoT is an acronym for the Internet of Things, which is made up of software, hardware, systems integrations, data services and access to more advanced telecommunications services than ever before. At its very core, the Internet Of Things revolves around how our devices and technologies are interconnected and the ways that they interact with one another, as well as with us the users. The IoT has the potential to solve countless problems in a range of industries with new innovative solutions and the retail industry is no exception.
Let’s take a look at how the Internet Of Things, as well as other digital technologies, will impact the retail industry moving forward.
As a retailer, it’s crucial that you manage your staff as efficiently as possible. Without enough staff to meet the needs of your business, your retail business will ultimately fail. Using IoT to handle staff scheduling for retailers has become increasingly possible in recent years. Business owners can simply create schedules online and then send the most up-to-date staff schedules directly to their employee’s mobile devices. Employees can often clock into work from their device using GPS location to prove that they are in fact at work and on-site ready to work. This integration of technologies has completely changed the game for retailers when it comes to managing their teams and will continue to play an important role for retailers when it comes to managing their retail teams moving forward.
Inventory And Supply Chain
Many traditional retail stores already use smart shelf technology to monitor their inventory levels. With this innovative approach, store managers can access real-time details and reports regarding what products they have in stock as well as sales levels. These systems utilise RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology to deliver the most accurate results. With these systems, an RFID tag is attached to each product and an RFID reader is then used to read and transmit the details of the tag to the IoT platform via antennae where the information is then processed. This allows retailers to monitor inventory levels throughout the entire supply chain putting them back in control of their retail business moving forward.
Retailers are also making use of IoT technologies when it comes to marketing. Sending out targeted event details, discount vouchers and other offers to consumers’ smartphones within a particular geographical area, allows retailers to target consumers that are likely to be interested in their offerings, directly. When customers receive these messages, they are more likely to venture in-store to take advantage of whatever deal the retailer is offering. Whether it’s discounts, sales, special offers, events, contests or on-the-spot promotional campaigns, retailers can reach out directly to the consumers in the area that is most likely to be interested and to take action.
Many major supermarkets have already started to implement cashier-free checkouts with great success and it’s only a matter of time before this technology begins to be seen in other types of retail stores. Using a combination of camera, apps, and point-of-sale systems, customers are able to go to the checkout to complete their purchases without any human assistance. In time, AI systems will help to take this process to new heights and even identify when shoplifting or other suspicious behaviour is taking place both throughout the store and at the checkout. These systems will also be integrated with inventory and supply chain management systems, giving retailers an all-in-one solution that centres around IoT technologies.
Facial recognition software is already being used in shopping malls and large supermarkets around the world for security purposes and this technology is improving all of the time. However, in the future, we could see facial recognition systems being used to increase customer engagement through digital signage displays. When a particular customer is identified by the store, the displays will be able to push different signage that will appeal more to that individual, levelling up their in-store experience and increasing the likelihood of them finalising a sale.
The Future Of Retail Will Rely On Digital Technology Moving Forward
While the retail industry already heavily utilises digital technology, moving forward, we can expect it to play an even bigger role in retail stores of all shapes and sizes. With so much to be gained from these ever-growing technologies, like IoT, it’s only a matter of time before more retailers explore the possibility of what digital tech has to offer.