Like many industries, retail is embracing Internet of Things (IoT) transformation. The expansion of IoT technology in retail is expected to reach more than $35 billion by 2020. Retailers are using IoT technology to enhance customer experience, reduce costs, drive growth and improve overall performance.
There are many ways in which the retail industry can use IoT technology. Currently, sensors are being used to monitor customer satisfaction, provide supply chain insights, monitor food safety, and track assets.
Customer Satisfaction Monitoring
Retailers are using IoT technology to enhance customer satisfaction. IoT sensors connected to a dashboard or set of color-coded buttons allow stores to collect customer feedback immediately after the shopping experience. This data provides real-time shopper satisfaction insights that can improve in-store customer experience.
Supply Chain and Logistics
IoT sensors are also being used by retailers to monitor goods throughout the entire supply chain. Tracking systems report valuable data such as location, temperature, humidity, shock and tilt, providing insights into quality control and traceability. Tracking solutions help determine if materials are safe, delivered on time, and transported in ideal conditions — all data that can help retailers make their transport logistics more efficient, reduce product damage and avoid loss.
IoT is already providing value to businesses in logistics. According to a survey of business leaders cited in a Deloitte Review on the Internet of Things potential to recast supply chain management, “74 percent of those who implemented initiatives such as sensor-based logistics saw increases in revenue. In fact, the average supply chain contribution to a company’s bottom line increased from 4 percent to 8.5 percent in only one year, with industry leaders seeing supply chain revenue contributions on the order of 10 percent.”
Food Safety Monitoring
Food and beverage industry retailers are using IoT technology to monitor temperature of storage spaces, helping them to ensure food doesn't spoil. Perishable food spoilage and deterioration in the retail grocery industry results in a significant loss of profitability, with grocers on average losing $70 million annually to spoilage alone.
IoT solutions are helping reduce loss due to spoilage and ensure food safety procedures are followed by accurately monitoring the temperature of food storage facilities. This is done with a simple device installed in the storage unit and linked to an online dashboard which is configured to send alerts in the event of abnormal temperature levels. Real-time data from IoT sensors helps retailers protect perishable goods, ensure optimal freshness and reduce waste.
Retailers are using IoT technology to track lost shopping carts and baskets. Tracking these assets can help stores reduce the cost of having to replace them. Shopping carts are expensive for retailers to replace, costing stores anywhere from $75 to $250 each. By placing sensors on assets like shopping carts, retailers can track them to their exact location and receive status updates and alerts if they're damaged. Tracking devices, installed on carts and baskets, function indoors and outdoors and can run for months or even years without having to replace the batteries. These sensors can help retailers improve customer experience by ensuring they always have enough shopping baskets and carts available for shoppers.
There are approximately 7 billion IoT-connected devices today according to data from IoT Analytics. This total is projected to reach 25 billion by 2021, with a large chunk of those devices used by retailers. As IoT networks become more ubiquitous, retailers will embrace the technology, using it across their operations to enhance customer experience and improve business efficiencies.
Kent Rawlings is president at Sigfox Canada, a technology company currently building an IoT network in Canada as part of the Sigfox Global Network.
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Kent Rawlings is President at Sigfox Canada, a technology company currently building an IoT network in Canada as part of the Sigfox Global Network. Anticipated to launch this year, the Sigfox Canada network will provide Low Cost, Low Bandwidth, Low Power solutions for hundreds of different applications.