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IoT and the future of retail

Managing the customer experience and making it more meaningful

February 03, 2020

IoT and the future of retail
With competition from e-tailers fiercer than ever, retailers are evolving to stay relevant and profitable. The future of retail depends on their ability to keep shoppers in the stores by making the in-store experience more rewarding, convenient and pleasurable. Managing the customer experience has become as critical as choosing the right merchandise to sell.

A retail sea change
A report by Verizon found that 77% of retailers now believe that IoT solutions can improve the customer experience. And according to Forbes, 70% of retail decision makers worldwide are ready to adopt the Internet of Things to do just that.

Big chains like Macy’s, Target and Lowe’s have already integrated IoT into their operations. They’ve discovered that sensor-driven IoT technology offers real-time access to valuable data that can be leveraged to make shopping more authentic and personalized. With IoT, brick-and-mortar stores become an interconnected environment where everything from shopper traffic patterns to inventory levels can be monitored—and in-store experiences can be designed and optimized for individual customers.
 
5 ways IoT delivers a meaningful customer experience
Thanks to IoT technology in the stores, managing the customer experience has become data-driven and, therefore, more personalized.
  1. Video analytics, now made possible through the use of IoT-enabled heatmap analytics software, allow retailers to monitor shopper behavior, traffic flow and conduct other necessary reconnaissance. From this valuable information, retailers gain insights on ways to create a better in-store experience—including rearranging promotional displays, moving some high-demand merchandise into different areas of the stores and re-deploying staff in areas where customers appear to be underserved.
     
  2. Small and unobtrusive devices known as beacons use Bluetooth Low Energy and geolocation technology to “sense” customers as they shop. These devices can be configured to issue alerts about sales and real-time offers, guide shoppers to specific items, display catalogs and FAQs, and deliver discount coupons to associated mobile applications.
     
  3. Integrating IoT with interactive displays and self-serve kiosks with intuitive touchscreens allows retailers to provide more information about products and what it’s like to use them. “Live” multidimensional experiences give customers the opportunity to engage with brands at a deeper, more personal level. It’s not only a more satisfying shopping experience, but it keeps them in the store longer.

  4. Digital display technology also allows retailers to adjust pricing to incentivize in-store purchases—and ensures customers get the same or a better deal in-store than what they would pay online. Through a singular, centralized content management system, which can be adjusted at the corporate headquarters or store level, prices can be changed on the spot to reward frequent shoppers.

  5. Many food retailers are now using shelving technology to automate inventory tracking and restocking. Some are also using it in conjunction with beacons to alert shoppers when they're near certain items that appear on their smart phone-enabled digital shopping lists. Then once an item is removed from the shelf, it's tagged, tracked through the store and ultimately charged to the customer's account as they move through the automated checkout area—eliminating the need to stand in line and wait for an open register.
IoT is the future of retail
The above are just a few key examples of how IoT is helping retailers add convenience, customization and incentives to in-store shopping—and delivering a more meaningful customer experience. Innovations like these are helping retailers remain viable and appealing in an age when more and more shoppers are turning to their computers and smartphones to make purchases.

To learn more about the retail IoT solutions Ingram Micro has to offer, visit https://iot.ingrammicro.com/marketplace/solutions

Then, if you’d like to discuss specific solutions for your retail customers, contact the IoT experts at Ingram Micro or call 1 (800) 456-8000, ext. 76251.