Why IoT is the fastest growing retail trend of 2017

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A recent Gartner survey estimated that by 2020, the number of connected objects will increase by 30 times current levels, making IoT (Internet of Things) a huge untapped opportunity for retailers which simply can’t be ignored.

As a result, 2017 will see retailers either jumping on the IoT bandwagon or risk being left behind. Soon we will see the first steps by leading multichannel retailers keen to explore the adoption of IoT in store to bridge existing gaps between their current online and physical offerings, as well as ensuring they’re aligned with the changing behaviour of tech-savvy consumers – according to Jason Bramsden, CTO at SQLI, digital transformation specialists.

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Connected retail technology links devices and data for a smarter shopping experience. And the speed with which the technology is adopted by the consumer is rapid; smartphones now play a big role in our shopping experience, with the number of consumers using their mobile devices in-store more than doubling in the past year. It is now imperative that retailers – no matter how big or small – start adapting offerings to suit this changing behaviour.

Examples, such as Amazon’s dash stick, and Baidu’s smart chopsticks demonstrate how IoT in retail is now being used to aid customer’s path to purchase and simplify their journey. As a result, smaller retailers need to be mindful of these developments and consider what they can realistically do to ensure that they are not left light-years behind their bigger, wealthier peers.

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So what do retailers have to do to survive this connected landscape?

The answer lies in employing a best-of-both world’s experience, on and off-line, that develops a profile of a customer’s shopping behaviours, enabling the retailer to personalise their service around individual interests and needs.

By analysing the consumer experience; when they enter the store or click on a website; how long they browse; what products they are viewing, and using this information to customise convenient and relevant offerings for individual customers, retailers will begin to feel the pay back and keep up with the competition.

The retail IoT revolution in now inevitable, thanks to consumers’ hunger for the best deals at the best prices regardless of the channel they are using. And even while in store they can ‘show-room’, searching for a better deal online or within the shopping centre itself.

This year must see the start of smart retailers reacting to this trend and can deploy a ‘heads-up’ to acknowledge the customer is potentially shopping around, enabling them to be in a position to accurately price-match in store. In addition, to safeguard their loyalty in future, the retailer may also send them a discount code for future purchases online or in-store.

IoT can be the powerhouse to automate and speed-up elements of the back-end of the business, which will further enhance the consumer’s experience – and help retain them – by making it easier to get consumers what they want, when they want it and in a more profitable manner. For example, the data gleaned can monitor goods on shelves and inventory stockrooms.

The progressive retailer will put the consumer’s needs first, constantly responding to their evolving (high) expectations and demands. In today’s retail arena, shoppers expect personalised communication and targeted offers. The data potential IoT offers can only have a positive impact on retailers’ customisation capabilities, creating new opportunities to engage with consumers in a highly relevant, value-added manner.

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