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Retail and IoT: 4 Strategies for Success

Posted by Michael Nelson on May 3, 2017 10:00:00 AM

One of the key ways to grow your business through IoT is to target the retail market. The solutions available in that vertical provide several ways to offer excellent customer service while streamlining operations.

Some retail operations face what’s called “showrooming,” where a shopper tries out the item at the physical location and then purchases the item online (possibly with a different retailer). For savvy companies looking to have shoppers complete the buying process on site, IoT offers several options, such as:

  • Live customer heat maps
  • Digital signs integrated with customer analytics
  • RFID for real-time showroom inventory management

Many store owners have installed smart Wi-Fi switches and firewalls for their locations. That's the first building block for a Smart Retail IoT deployment. Now you just need to layer on the services.

Use Wi-Fi to Prevent Overstaffing

One of the key pain points in the retail industry is staffing stores with too many workers for the number of shoppers in the location. Approach your retail customers with a solution to that problem by using their Wi-Fi connections.

A few properly placed smart access points can enable a retailer of any size to track customers by cell phone. The larger the space and more granularities of the desired data will determine just how many Wi-Fi access points are actually required.

Once the network is in place, store owners can identify every person with a cell phone by MAC address.  Offer shoppers guest access to the Wi-Fi network with a convenient login by social network and the retailer will know who those shoppers are and many of their preferences. 

Make Personal Service Smarter with IoT

Cloud services offer the ability to track customer movement within a showroom. Statistics such as times visited, dwell times, and personal information help build profiles for identifying VIP customers and alerting store managers to their presence in the store.

This notification can be in the form of the customer’s purchase history with a picture from their social network profile sent via SMS. The real-time information can enable personal concierge services to keep the best customers coming back again and again.

IoT Takes In-Store Signage to New Levels

Another retail application of IoT is to enable your customers with the ability to synchronize content across franchises and locations through content management systems. Integration between Cloud services allows them to change digital signs on the fly based on live data captured in-store.  

The benefit is your customers can capture demographics through Wi-Fi access via social network logins or by using IP cameras and software to perform live audience analytics.

How IoT Enhances the Shopping Experience

RFID combines inventory control and a better shopping experience into one solution. For instance, modern tag readers can now read thousands of tags per second and triangulate positions of the tagged items. So if a customer picks up a shirt in menswear and leaves it in maternity the system sends a notification to an associate, complete with a picture of the item and directions to the shirt’s proper place.  

Keep in mind that getting into IoT is easier than you think. Your new customers will come from your existing customers through referrals and partnerships. A few other considerations:

  • Retail IoT is services layered over existing infrastructure.
  • Live customer heat maps are possible with Wi-Fi and cell phones.
  • Use IoT data to increase sales and make better staffing decisions.
  • Customer VIP programs get better with more data.
  • Integrate digital signs with customer analytics.
  • RFID has evolved from warehouse logistics to showroom inventory management.

Adding these solutions to your line card will position your business for the next step of the Internet of Things. That means expanding into the non-carpeted spaces such as transportation, smart buildings, smart cities, and factories. 

Work with Tech Data, we’ll show you how.


Tags: IoT, Smart Retail