In this age of increasingly powerful mobile computing, the advent of the cloud, and the rising prominence of Big Data, no new innovation should surprise us anymore. Now it’s just a matter of how best to use and monetize it.
The latest (and possibly greatest?) innovation is the Internet of Things. This new concept possesses the potential to revolutionize the way retailing is conducted. Let’s take a look at how the Internet of Things is changing the way retail is being done, and how it can give business owners better earning potential. But first, a definition.
Thanks to the idea of connection of objects, retailers can take advantage of the Internet of Things to improve sales
What IS The Internet Of Things?
The Internet of Things (also called IoT), is the concept where everything around us, be it people, vehicles, appliances, pets, etc, each can access the Internet without any direct human intervention or operation. The IoT also allows you to control gadgets such as your house lights via your tablet or smart phone.
Provided that the object in question has both web access and can store an IP address. A pet with a location microchip is considered a thing. Your automobile equipped with WiFi is a thing. That smart bathroom scale with multiple amazing features is a thing.
A Streamlined Customer Experience
Thanks to things like RFID tags and sensors, retailers can recognize customers by means of the latter’s smart devices as they walk into the store. If the store has the customer’s information on file, they can actually bill the customer through the credit card on record, meaning the customer never has to use the checkout line. Sounds like something out of a science fiction story, doesn’t it?
The point is, satisfied customers mean return customers, and today’s technology is making it easy for businesses to make customers happy. The article “New Trends In Small Business Marketing” elaborates more on this idea.
Increased Customer Engagement
The benefit isn’t just at the customer’s end; the business gets some advantages as well. Thanks to the real-time gathering of data that the Internet of Things provides, a store can custom-create certain deals and promotions for their regulars, and make sure that they have the customers’ habitual purchases in stock. Information derived from POS terminals can map out a customer’s favorite items, and even pinpoint when that customer usually stops by.
By providing customers with irresistible bargains based on their preferences and likes, as determined by information from the IoT, a business can overcome hesitancy on the part of the buyer and create more sales.
We’ve already seen how a customer’s smart phone can tip off the business owner to their presence in the physical store. But it’s much more than that. A clever business can create interactive multi-media and social media events that the customer can interact with via their smart phone. Once again, this increases the business’ visibility and improves the chances of making a sale.
IoT: The Great Equalizer
It wasn’t too long ago that the pundits, overly enamored with e-commerce, were forecasting the doom of traditional brick and mortar retail establishments. Ironically, the increased sophistication of mobile technology and the Internet of Things will actually turn out to be the salvation of retail stores, since it equips them with the efficient, competitive technology usually reserved only for online vendors. By using the Internet of Things to gain a better understanding of their customers and their habits, retailers can compete on an equal footing with e-commerce.
As can be seen in the article “From Store to Big Data Storage: Interview with George Shaw of RetailNext on Retail Big Data”, things like Big Data and the Internet of Things are not to be feared by the old-school businesses, but rather embraced. Hey, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!