Incorporating smart technology into retail spaces provides companies with multiple advantages, including the ability to operate with fewer staff and less energy, aid in loss prevention, and optimize the products being sold. Yet while these advantages result in helpful cost reductions for retail or corporate owners, it’s often customer expectations and competition that drives retail innovation.
With the rise of e-commerce, customer loyalty and in-store foot traffic is more crucial than ever before. You can call it the Amazon Go effect, but consumers no longer have the patience to wait in long checkout lines. They also expect personalized shopping experiences and tailored discounts.
The Internet of Things is solving these needs, allowing regular retail to transform itself into smart stores by collecting data on customers’ individual habits, needs, and styles.
Amazon Go has become a prototype of smart stores, encouraging others like Walmart China and US grocer Kroger to explore self-service payments that utilize sensors and understand when goods are removed from shelves for purchase.
Smart stores, which when effectively implemented can predict and account for consumer behaviors, account for a significant share of the expected $94.44B USD in global IoT retail market growth.1
Retail-focused use cases of IoT are typically broken down into these categories:
- Loss Prevention and Inventory Tracking Providing sensors that notify employees when they need to restock shelves and protect goods from theft, including unclipping items only post purchase and automatic wheel locking on shopping carts
- Beacon and Sensor Based Analytics Correlating internal analytics and research on visitors, staff, and discounts, including how promotions may affect in-store traffic
- Smart Dressing Rooms Allowing shoppers to request new items or sizes without leaving the rooms, adjusting the lighting within rooms, and providing outfit recommendations or related product recommendations
- Beacon-Based Marketing Think tailored push notifications on products and promotions via age tracking, gender, clothing styles, and more
- Service Robots Helping customers find products more quickly and ensure the shelves are properly stocked
- At Home Shopping Buttons Allowing customers in store to order different products directly to their homes, including reordering goods and user voice recognition
Another new technology being leveraged to personalize and enhance the shopping experience includes micro-location, which uses in-store sensors to identify long-time customers, view their shopping trends through the cloud, and send them a coupon for a relevant product while they are still in the store.
Retail stores which sell products from multiple brands, also gain opportunities for new revenue streams. With tech savvy shelving displays that can show personalized offers, a supermarket like Kroger can approach brands wishing to push their products more to secure this digital, in-store advertising inventory. These ads themselves can also be tailored to only been shown when the advertisers’ target consumer demographics are met.
A use case in action
Another interesting example of a smart space which is occupant-responsive and makes real-time adjustments is the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. A proprietary real-time location system tracks visitors via a tablet-size device. The museum uses anchors and sensors to monitor visitors as they explore exhibits, turning on lights and video players when necessary.
The museum’s system can detect which direction visitors are facing, where they are standing, and which exhibits they have visited. Staff can then use this intel for customized follow-up emails that encourage repeat visits.
This method presents an exciting way that a museum is incorporating AI and machine learning to analyze how a space is used, how new spaces may be designed, and how data can effectively guide a company’s marketing strategy.
While smart retail can power and protect current stores with added security measures and energy efficiencies, the bigger idea is that data derived from smart tech and sensors will generate meaningful information to support long term decision making for retail and business owners.
Smart building tech and Big Data offers owners and developers information on what’s needed to ensure tenants and visitors are being cared for properly. This includes the ability to self-diagnosis and self-correct issues, as well as identify patterns and trends that could lead to better design choices for renovations or future retail locations.
Necessary security measures
One of the only downsides to all of this incredible technology is the potential vulnerability of a smart store from cyberattacks. This can be solved by enlisting a partner who is an IoT security expert to outfit your store with necessary precautions. It shouldn’t be a deterrent that keeps you lagging behind your retail counterparts.
Partners like Axonize can provide end-to-end solutions to set up stores within days and handle all of the brunt work. Feel free to reach out to us or learn more about Axonize’s smart building solution here.
1Grand View Research Inc.