Latest retail IoT deployments digitize in-person experiences
Digital retail is undoubtedly one of the biggest trends impacting the commercial space at the moment. Technology's penetration of this industry has come so far that companies simply focusing on e-commerce may not be thinking big enough.
A new generation of technology is bringing digital experiences into physical stores. When used correctly, the latest systems have the ability to benefit customers and companies alike. Retail shoppers are rewarded with more fulfilling experiences, while businesses gain the ability to collect and use valuable consumer data even when dealing with people in person.
New tech tools point to an IoT future for retail
The internet of things (IoT) is a natural fit for retail technology. The concept behind IoT devices, equipping physical assets with digital sensors, could point the way to true next-generation shopping experiences.
Forbes contributor Daniel Newman's report from the recent National Retail Federation (NRF) trade show included glimpses of how stores plan to use the IoT in their physical spaces. This includes plans by Qualcomm to use IoT-equipped shopping carts and point-of-sale terminals to allow customers to have smooth experiences in stores.
Present-day retail experiences can be burdened by the slowdowns caused by long lines at registers. By equipping checkout areas or carts with digital sensors, businesses can help shoppers move more quickly. Every action that can be turned from a manual customer activity into an automated process may create a smoother process overall.
These digital systems can integrate with existing customer resource management (CRM) systems, supporting omnichannel retail. When someone buys goods in person, that activity will be immediately reflected in a customer profile spanning the company's online and offline operations. Newman's prediction that companies are on the verge of creating consistent in-store and online experiences reflects the accomplishment of a long-held corporate goal.
Customer expectations evolve to incorporate high-tech tools
It's natural for retailers to feel competitive pressure when deploying new technology tools in their stores. This is the case because companies are not merely racing with one another to create positive experiences: Consumers' expectations are also evolving quickly.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers guide to IoT in retail indicated that retailers are counting on IoT sensors to power insights about their in-store shoppers. This covers all facets of the retail experience, from the impact of weather patterns on customer behavior to peak sale times for different product categories. These types of insights have been available to e-commerce sellers for years, but the IoT has brought them into store aisles.
As PwC added, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the IoT in retail. This is due to the fact that not all companies have equal budgets or customer engagement strategies. While some retailers are primed to begin with high-powered analytics operations, others are thinking in terms of immediate improvements in efficiency and store experiences.
Examples of entry-level retail IoT deployments include smart lighting and climate controls. These are the same kinds of IoT devices that have become so popular as components in smart home systems. The same technologies that create efficient, comfortable living conditions for homeowners can scale up to retail levels with a minimum of issues. Once they have success with these IoT integrations, companies can begin to think about gathering and using customer data.
Powerful IT infrastructure rises in importance
Retail stores making use of powerful IoT technology need to have adequate bandwidth to deal with their newly increased data volumes. This is where Perle's selection of media converters, serial terminal servers and more can create a high-reliability networking ecosystem.