The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming to retail, so get ready. Digital devices (i.e., Things) are poised to revolutionize everything from inventory management to hypertargeted marketing.
IoT-enabled smart shelving will lend a whole new meaning to the term “shelf life,” bringing retail shelves to life by allowing the dynamic changing of prices and the taking of inventory to trigger restocking when needed.
Smart signs can adapt their offerings to suit the customer’s mood or to compete with a store down the road. Location analytics tools can help retailers target customers for preferential treatment. Remote body scanners will even measure customers for suits from their own homes. And feedback from smart devices can help retailers predict and avoid product breakdowns.
This isn't science fiction. The key to leveraging IoT for retail sales is the ability to connect, sense, correlate and automate in order to add value by increasing intelligence and reducing manual effort.
One of the most powerful retail IoT ideas is electronic shelf labels. Shelf labels can change prices dynamically, but also read passing foot traffic to determine whether the product placement is attracting enough passers-by. If there isn't enough passing traffic or the prices are too high, the product could be repriced on the spot and/or promoted via Wi-Fi.
According to a survey by independent market research firm Vanson Bourne, 72 percent of respondents believe it's a significant advantage to be able to price products and services based upon dynamic factors such as changes in competitor prices or activities. The electronic shelf label is an obvious solution.
IoT is changing the retail clothing world with the introduction of sensor-enabled body scanners. Webcams on your laptop will help you order off-the-peg jeans that fit like a glove. Photo booth-style 3-D scanners in airports or train stations will measure you and order bespoke suits sharp enough to please James Bond.
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Oliver Guy is the global industry director, retail at Software AG, specializing in retail digital transformation and omnichannel technology strategy.
Oliver advises retailers across the globe on their technology strategy and decisions. With more than 20 years focused in technology, Oliver has worked with major names in global retail helping them improve their business through the use of innovative technology. Prior to joining Software AG, Oliver was part of the European Management team at Oracle Retail, his team being responsible for Retail focused Solution Consulting across Europe. Oliver started his career in technology implementing Supply Chain Planning and Optimisation solutions for customers across multiple industries in both Europe and Asia Pacific with Manugistics (JDA).