How the IoT is redefining retail

The IoT is rapidly increasing connectedness within the retail sector, we look at some of the ways that the technology coupled with big data is changing the industry


The smart shopping experience is set to transform supply and demand in the retail sector. As the industry evolves alongside the Internet of Things (IoT), customers will enjoy an increasingly connected ecosystem of devices that streamline their purchase decisions, while retailers optimize and automate their supply chains.

Both sides of the equation will see dramatic changes, and the implementation of delivery robots, self-driving vehicles and drones will only accelerate the transformation. With each passing year, technology and software simplify the relationship between customers and companies.

One thing is clear: As the retail industry moves closer toward complete integration and interconnectivity between technologies, its value will skyrocket. The IoT-enabled retail market reached $16.4bn in 2016 and is expected to grow 21.5% through 2025. If retail-related businesses embrace innovations in IoT and big data, that figure is well within their grasp.

With this in mind, how has IoT affected the industry, and what influence does big data have on its future? What changes should customers and retailers expect moving into 2019 and the next decade? We'll answer those questions and others like them, exploring the effect of technology on retailers across the country.

Biometric point of sale

Facial recognition software is no longer such a novel concept, with recent models of smartphones taking advantage of the technology. Instead of employing it as a security measure, the software will soon see integration with the retail shopping experience to streamline the transaction process.

The concept is simple: Customers preregister their payment information with the retailer before entering the store. When they approach a display case and choose an item – placing it in their shopping bag – the system recognizes their face and proceeds with the transaction. No separate checkout is necessary.

Ultimately, the success of the system will depend on the willingness of customers to set aside time for biometric registration. Even so, customers have shown they are receptive and interested in new forms of checkout, with expectations that mobile POS will grow by 30% annually.

Optimized staffing data

Several retailers have adopted a counting system and retail analytics technology, such as Flonomics, to improve their operations. These systems have a diverse range of applications, enabling executives to enhance their decision-making in many different areas, like marketing, customer service and staffing.

In terms of staffing, systems like this show retailers the optimal staffing levels for different dates and times. This information allows them to take a strategic approach to the administration of their workforce, saving money on labor. With the data the system provides, they'll know when and where to allocate workers.

Beyond a money-saving measure, systems like this will also assist managers in meeting demand. They'll have a better understanding of which days and times are likeliest to see the greatest amount of traffic. Never under-or-overstaffed, their stores will always run at peak performance.

Predictive price analytics

Among other solutions for smart retail, predictive price analysis is one of the more practical technologies. It isn't as outwardly impressive as biometric POS or similar systems, but it has significant potential for simplifying the complex subject of product pricing. An understanding of product pricing shows why predictive analysis is so important.

Businesses can't price their products too high or too low and finding the ideal number that retains customers and makes a profit is essential to success. Predictive price analytics empowers them to find the perfect price tag, accounting for historical pricing, consumer interest, inventory and additional details.

Predictive analysis also tells retailers when they can and can't undercut their competition with lower prices. Competitor pricing is an integral consideration when making price adjustments, so access to real-time monitoring will enable companies to stay up-to-the-minute with their strategies and make changes if necessary.

Tracking technology

Supply chain tracking technology such as Tive's proprietary sensor and software allow users to view the condition of their shipped goods in real-time. Systems will send notifications on shock, vibration, tilt and other factors, which will affect the quality of products while they're in transit. This information helps expedite replacements and inform customers.

Systems also often show retailers which routes caused the damage, pinpointing when and where the problem occurred. These details inform their decisions when selecting routes, avoiding areas that could compromise their goods. It's an effective measure for minimizing losses.

When looking at the many advantages of Tive's sensor and software, it's safe to speculate its system and similar models will see greater adoption in the future. As of now, the company has upgraded its multisensor tracker, improving its battery life and enhancing its accuracy.

The transformation of retail

The smart shopping experience will seem somewhat foreign to those who are accustomed to traditional technologies. Though adapting to these new systems might require some adjustment on the part of customers and companies, both will find the changes are well worth the transitory period.

As retail continues to transform, professionals in other industries should take note. Many of the technologies above are applicable elsewhere, and IoT and big data have incredible promise for enterprise as a whole.

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