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IoT and retail: What you need to know

IoT and retail: What you need to know


The retail industry has undergone many changes over the past decade, and now technology solutions are more important than ever before. The internet of things can help retailers improve their businesses in a number of exciting ways.

If you haven’t adopted IoT yet, you’re behind

According to a recent report from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, roughly half of all retailers worldwide have adopted IoT devices in some manner. The report also predicted that this trend will continue as devices become more integrated and affordable.

One of the main goals of this technology is to improve efficiencies at brick-and-mortar stores. The HP report noted that 80 percent of companies with IoT strategies have noticed improvements in not only store efficiency but also profitability. The benefits of these strategies may depend on the scale of the enterprise, however. In other words, a pop-up shop is likely to see far fewer benefits, compared to a multi-unit chain. Nevertheless, IoT is a flexible solution, and retailers can choose an option that works best for their brands.

As the industry moves into a future that is becoming more automated, those that fail to adopt IoT strategies may not be able to compete as effectively against those that have already jumped on the bandwagon.

IoT is an ecosystem

IoT encompasses an ecosystem of connected devices.IoT encompasses an ecosystem of connected devices.

When anyone talks about IoT, there’s no guarantee they’re talking about the same implementation of the concept. In the retail space, IoT can mean a number of things. For example, ReadWrite reported that sales representatives could utilize smartwatches to access a database of products and manage inventory in real time. Or a supervisor might implement door sensors to automatically track foot traffic for reporting purposes. From supply chain management to the sales process, there’s an IoT solution for just about everything.

If you’re interested in implementing an IoT strategy at your store, the first step is to identify areas where you could be more efficient or productive, and then work backwards to a solution. Here’s a real-world example:

In 2015, Levi’s wanted to track the inventory of one of its stores in real time. To do so, the company partnered with Intel. Together, they developed a new IoT device called the Intel Retail Sensor Platform. Levi’s placed a RFID tag on every item in the store. An antenna in the middle of the store constantly monitored the positions of each tag. Therefore, when an item was close to being out of stock, the employees were notified. This optimized resource allowed for more control over the inventory ordering process and lowered product loss rates.

IoT technology has many uses, and retailers should take a hard look at their brands to determine where it makes sense to adopt these solutions. When used properly, they should feel natural to store employees and shoppers alike.

To learn more about how to improve efficiencies at your store, contact the retail design experts at Firefly Store Solutions today.