Leveraging IoT to enhance retail customer experience

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With the advent of digitization and technology, customer demands are going through a radical change. Enterprises are thus taking a leap, in order to adapt to the newer technologies which are not only faster and flexible in nature, but also helpful in creating a truly delightful customer experience. Similarly, with Internet of Things or IoT marking an epoch, retail environment has been truly revolutionised with positive disruptions, leading towards a monumental shift in the way retailers address their customers today.
In fact, as per a recent study, by the year 2021, 70 per cent retailers will do significant investment on Internet of Things, giving a digital voice to their customers while simultaneously improving their brand experience. Needless to add, provision in terms of a great end consumer experience and the actionable insights that one can gain from IoT implementation, are gradually becoming imperatives for the brands. Hence arises the need for realigning corporate strategies for creating ‘connected and integrated’ business models that will eventually help addressing the changing customer dynamics even better.
How Retailers Can Take Advantage of IoT
The new-age consumer is quite tech-savvy and is keen on leveraging every digital tool to enhance their life experiences – from social media to mobile, e-commerce and in-store, customers today browse through every bit of Internet tool to get their best bargains. We can call them tough customers, loyal only to the prospect of ‘what’s in it for me’, they are much more informed than their predecessors and have unlimited options and choices, given the availability of open digital hyper market places. Therefore, the role of marketers has become even more challenging these days.
However, IoT integration is helping them gain perspective of this new buyer-mindset while they put energies into ramping-up. According to an industry resource, 72 per cent of retailers plan to re-invent their supply chain with real-time visibility, enabled by IoT solutions, such as:
Automated Inventory will help retailers at multiple levels – syncing on data, updating stock data etc. thus reducing operational costs while boosting the inventory processes efficiently. It leads to a concept of ‘Demand-Aware’ warehouse
Smart Transportation can ensure optimisation of route tracking, way better than the regular GPS, hence improving the overall optimisation
Predictive Analytics play a very pivotal role in understanding customer behavior and market trends. To take advantage of the wealth of data generated, intelligent analytics can help retailers when they have to take a call on crucial problems such as demand forecast verses current supply.
Enhancing Customer Experience With IoT Solutions
Apart from such demand shaping and inventory management, IoT enables personalized experience to the buyer while carrying out 1-on-1 marketing based on the past purchase history of the buyer – thus unifying IoT with analytics for precise outcomes.
In this era of Omnichannel retail, let us see how retailers are striking a balance between online and offline shoppers with IoT without compromising on any aspect:
Online Retailers
– By utilising Web analytics online retailers can track every move that customers make – from how long they spend looking at particular product to how much time do they spend product-browsing before heading to the checkout. Basis the data availability and smart analytical tactics, customized product recommendations based on personal preferences, behavioural mapping etc. can be provided that constantly improves the buyer experience.
– By leveraging Mobile apps retailers can collect the data and customer insights anytime, anywhere. Also, customers’ behaviour and movements can be monitored by tracking the response rate to push notifications on these apps, ultimately assists retailers to create more engaging content as per customer preferences.
Offline Retailers
– By improving location-based services retailers can now understand the right time and place of high-value customers and identify their needs and preferences in advance so as to respond proactively. With technology-based tools (wifi and video footage) retailers can easily monitor how customers are spending their time over a product in real-time. It is depicted that, with increasing IoT penetration by 2021, 75 per cent of retailers will know when specific customers are in stores, and will also be able to customize the store visits for them.
– By ensuring responsiveness in transportation retailers can ensure safe and efficient movement of goods across the stores. With RFID tags attached to the products, retailers are able to trace their inventory easily throughout the supply chain process.
Challenges Faced
Although IoT possesses the ability to momentously augment the ways in which retailers are engaging with their customers, the catch emerges when there is a potential for growth by IoT applications but the outcome of the same remains vague. All such technologies take time to absorb and understand the happenings before delivering insights. However, it’s natural for retailers to get jittery in such scenario. Couple of more challenges listed below:
– Cost of implementation – When retailers look out for wide-scale deployment
Workaround – Everything doesn’t have to be done at once and partial setups at regular intervals can be a cost-effective choice
– Absence of use-case in case if you’re an early adopter
Workaround – This challenge in itself is an opportunity in disguise as retailers can get the first mover advantage
– Privacy issues
Workaround – Partnering with trust worthy security experts for requisite encryption of your data
– Infrastructure and skill gap
Workaround – Ensuring the basic infrastructure which is required along with having the right talent to enable methodical implementation is a must
A ‘Connected’ Business
As per industry reports, retailers are expected to invest some US $2.5 billion on the implementation of IoT in stores by 2020. With this, it is clear that IoT is on the verge of shifting how retailers will operate in future. There is no denying of the fact that retailers will have to be more aggressive in strengthening and updating the current technological systems and applications to ensure building even more ‘smart and connected’ and a ‘well-weaved’ brand experience.
Probably, retailers in future will use some hardware to track and direct shoppers to recommended products or may be some might also employ robots to accompany customers around a store – Nothing seems impossible! In a nutshell, retailers who can adapt and offer consumers with a more rewarding and personalised shopping experience, be it online or offline, will be the ones who will succeed.

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