It has been some time now since IoT started changing the retail industry. Along with new opportunities to grow, advance, and simplify business processes – IoT can make a big difference in customer experience.
Between the 1990s and 2010s, supermarkets started to roll out self-checkout lanes. It was a revolutionary idea – to give shoppers the control and convenience to scan and bag their own items, without having to wait in line for a cashier. Now, almost half of the world’s grocery shoppers use them on a regular basis.
Fast-forward to 2018: with advanced IoT technology, Amazon opened its first Amazon Go store to the public – there were no lines, no checkouts, and no cashiers. Customers simply scanned their Amazon Go app as they entered the store, picked up what they wanted and left.
The technology behind Amazon Go is incredibly complex, but it essentially uses a combination of sensors and computer vision to detect what items a customer has picked up and charges them accordingly.
This is just one example of how IoT is changing the customer experience for the better. Let’s explore the many ways that businesses can begin to leverage IoT to improve customer interactions.
What’s Made Possible with the Internet of Things?
Although the Internet of Things in the retail space is a new concept for many people, there are already a number of practical ways it is being used to improve customer experience. Let’s run through some of the possibilities coming to fruition in 2022:
While customer experience is largely influenced by the physical experience of shopping in-store, inventory management is a critical backend process that can make or break the customer experience. With IoT sensors embedded in products, retailers are able to keep track of stock in near real-time, and make better predictions about what customers want.
Walmart is one retailer that is already making good use of IoT in this way. With their Intelligent Retail Lab, they use AI to detect when fresh produce is about to go bad, and predictive analytics to determine when shelves need restocking.
The application of data science and machine learning to predict future events is a powerful tool. By tracking customer behavior and combining it with inventory data, retailers can use predictive analytics to anticipate what products a customer might want – and have them ready for purchase when the customer arrives in-store.
Take Netflix, for example. It isn’t a brick-and-mortar retailer, but it is a company that relies on customer experience. Netflix uses machine learning algorithms to predict which shows a customer might want to watch and customizes their home screen to suggest those shows.
With GPS tracking, retailers can send context-sensitive notifications to customers’ phones about discounts or product availability in the store. This also allows retailers to track customer movement within the store and better understand how customers interact with different products.
Retailers can use augmented reality to overlay product information on top of the physical product itself. This could include things like nutritional information, customer reviews, or even styling advice.
In 2017, Home Depot released its AR app which allows customers to view a 3D representation of furniture in their home before they buy it. For the customer, this means they can get a better idea of what the product will look like and whether it will fit in their space.
With IoT-enabled customer service kiosks, retailers can provide a more personalized customer service experience. These kiosks can not only help with product inquiries but also recommend complementary products and upsells. Lowes is already using customer service robots, and many other retailers are following suit.
As you can tell, IoT in retail is well and truly on its way to transforming the customer experience. Only time can tell just how advanced the customer experience will become, and how quickly new technology will be adopted.
IoT-Enhanced Customer Experience Has Already Arrived
Again, the Internet of Things is already taking over the retail space with new and exciting innovations. But just how wide has it spread as of 2022? Let’s take a look.
- 83 percent of retailers are planning to grow their own internal IoT network of customer-centric devices and experiences.
- Kroger has installed Smart Shelves into over 90 of its stores, with more grocers to follow.
- Beacon Bluetooth devices were introduced by Apple in 2013, and have been able to reach 70 percent of shoppers with location-specific content.
- Retail stores such as Lowes and Target are already using robots to roam aisles and take care of inventory, even assisting in customer-service-related tasks.
Research indicates that IoT has very much already arrived – so do these changes translate into a better experience for the customer?
How IoT Improves the Customer Journey
According to a study by Genesys, 71 percent of respondents felt that IoT significantly improved their customer experience. The study revealed that customers value personalized care, real-time engagement, and convenience. IoT can provide all of these benefits and more to physical store customers, thanks to the following advantages:
By collecting data on customer behavior, preferences, and needs, IoT can help businesses create a more personalized experience for each individual customer.
This could involve providing recommendations or suggestions for products based on past purchases, using facial recognition to greet customers by name, or adjusting store settings (lighting, music, temperature) based on customer preferences.
IoT can help businesses provide real-time engagement with customers. For example, businesses can use IoT to send notifications about special deals or discounts to customers’ phones while they are in the store or to send alerts about items that are low in stock.
IoT can also help improve convenience for customers by reducing the amount of time it takes to complete tasks. Businesses can use IoT to provide self-service options such as check-in and check-out kiosks, or to allow customers to order and pay for items online and pick them up in-store.
In addition to these benefits, IoT can also help businesses organize their employees more effectively. Tools like retail scheduling software, for instance, help with easy scheduling by using IoT to streamline rosters across the workforce.
In 2022, the retail space is more advanced than ever thanks to new technology such as IoT. With the help of interconnected devices, retailers can now understand their customers better and create a more personalized experience in-store. This not only improves customer loyalty but also encourages them to spend more money.
IoT is changing how customers interact with businesses and making the shopping experience much more enjoyable. Artificial intelligence and IoT will be the industries to watch out for in the next few years, and retailers will find that more opportunities begin opening up to them as the technology progresses.
AUTHOR – Rob Press
Rob is a content marketing manager at Deputy, a robust scheduling software that can be used to manage your workforce in a wide variety of different industries. Aside from helping businesses reach operational efficiency, he keeps up to date with the latest trends in SaaS, B2B, and technology in general.