The Internet of Things has made a significant impact on the retail industry and can be rightly touted as the major force behind the third Industrial Revolution. This wave of revolutionary change has been heralded by the influence of IoT and it can be applied in various retail sectors like:
1) In-store flow experience
2) Traceability of inventory
3) Warehouse management- Fraud and Shrinkage Identification
4) Supply chain marketing
5) Seamless connection between the store room and front shelf
With IoT, retailers can digitize practically everything related to their pre-sale, after sale and marketing segments, including every employee, customer, product, service and process. IoT in the retail industry has a good scope for immense success.
1) In- Store Flow Experience
a) Customers and retailers can enjoy a number of benefits with proliferation of devices coupled with IoT. Some of them are mentioned here: Customers can scan the barcode on various goods with the help of their mobile device and garner product information by hooking up to the internet. There are plenty of apps in the market that would give them this information. In garment clothes retailing, the store owners can install smart mirrors whereby customers can actually see the digital version of how a particular piece of clothing would look on them without actually trying it on. Through automatic scanning, retailers can perform contactless scanning of the goods bought by a customer as he walks out after a purchase.
b) Customers can create digital shopping lists, and smart shopping carts would guide them down the aisles so they can quickly select their products.
c) Customer no longer have to walk down endless aisles looking for something he/she wants to buy because there are touch screen robots that would help in locating a particular product. Retailers can save utility bills by installing smart thermostats/lighting. Retailers are alerted whenever the goods on his store shelf run low. Based on the alarms sent by the devices, they can replenish the goods before they run out.
2) Traceability of Inventory
a) Employees in the supply department would be able to track products, and the status of products when they are in the production and distribution department. However complex the supply channel may be, it is possible for the retailers to trace their inventory and make the products available when customers need them. This includes perishable goods brought in at the right temperature. IoT is helpful not only during the product-supply chain, but makes a quick move in the case of recalls too.
3) Fraud and Shrinkage Identification
a) Retail shrinkage is caused when there is shop lifting and thieving by employees. Though sad and depressing, this is something that happens frequently. Products are fitted with RFID tags (radio frequency identification) to help prevent theft, and if at all anything is stolen, these tags would help identify the product when it is sold in the gray market. In normal cases, goods with RFID tags will alert the retailer when an attempt/execution of thievery is made. This would help the retailer track the product and gain more information about the the thief. A certain percentage of the products sold in large quantities online are stolen from department stores, and these tags would help identify them and catch the thief if possible.
4) Supply Chain Marketing -Making the Most of In-Store Flow
a) Through IoT, retailers are able to identify the buying behavior of their customers, where they hang out, and understand what their interests and hobbies are. With GPS, sensors and beacons, they can not only keep tags on the inventory, but inform the customers of coupons, promotions and exclusive events right on to their mobile devices. Retailers can identify the location of their customers and post deals and promotions that would interest them.
5) Seam less Connection between the Back Room to the Front Shelf
a) Doing an inventory of the store is sometimes an impossible task. An inventory management system connected to various devices through IoT would be able to guide the retailer by doing an inventory of goods on the shelf and in storage. Early inventory management system was not every precise, but now retailers can known the exact product inventory, prevent stock mishandling and eliminate the occurrence of empty shelves.