How the Internet of Things and Retail Come Together
Simplifying what IoT means
There are many ways The Internet of Things (IoT) has been defined, described and touted. Some of these definitions can be hard to understand for all its complexity in the explanation, so let’s try to add some clarity to it all. Everyday physical objects in today’s techno-driven world can have their own “identity” and are able to connect to other devices or networks. So, to simplify, The Internet of Things (IoT) is the inter-networking/connecting of physical devices (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”) such as vehicles, buildings, and other items, which could be embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and then connected to a network that enable these objects to collect and exchange data. IoT is driving innovation and new opportunities to businesses and consumers alike by bringing every object, people, and activity into the digital world.
How this comes into play with the Retail industry
In a world where 100% network uptime is expected by consumers while in a retail store, having a safeguard to primary connection in place is more important than ever before. Retail stores rely on fast and stable internet connections for:
Timely credit card processing / POS operation
Employee email or communication access
Optimizing supply chain operations
In the event of service interruption to a store's traditional network (T1, Cable, DSL, etc.) a number of issues can arise including: lost sales, slower customer transactions, customer frustration, employee frustration and quite possibly a negative brand impact.
Retail locations can benefit from using wireless cellular networks as either a wireless cellular failover system (i.e. provide emergency backup connectivity) or as a primary connectivity option (think pop-up kiosks/stores) from their traditional network to guarantee uninterrupted Internet access for all their locations.
Connected devices and products also provide retailers with the opportunity to help optimize operations in the face of a more complex supply chain, increasingly important digital channels, and a more demanding customer.
IoT presents an opportunity for retailers to develop a vastly improved ecosystem that connects physical and digital worlds, allowing two-way, real-time interaction with consumers both inside and outside the store.
The time to unleash the advantages of IoT is now. It is the first step to transform your store for 21st century retail. It addresses one of the most pressing challenges – how to provide a seamless and differentiated experience for customers. There are a number of ways IoT comes into play for retailers, with the level of sophistication of increasing with each application. Some of these use cases include:
Smart shelves for capturing information to aid with inventory management
Beacons that use low-energy Bluetooth connections to automatically send push notifications directly to shoppers’ smartphones while in-store
Digital signage that can be changed dynamically to suit time of day and seasons
So where does a retailer begin to leverage what IoT can provide? Retailers that start implementing solutions such as wireless backup for their network stand to gain an important advantage in an already competitive environment. Early adopters will be positioned to quickly deliver IoT-enabled capabilities that can increase revenue, reduce costs, and drive a differentiated brand experience.
About Tom Maguire - After 20+ years as Vice President of three of the world’s largest mobile communications corporations, Tom’s expertise is unilateral in B2B /B2B2C wireless telecom marketing, strategic planning and sales management. His background in the mobile/wireless space has included assisting start-ups with go-to-market strategies, managing multi-channel marketing plans, creating branding campaigns, and planning product introductions. Tom is now a co-founder of SensLynx, LLC, a provider of IoT solutions.