We’ve covered how the Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming industries like logistics and utility/green energy companies, but haven’t yet explored its impact on the retail space, specifically when it comes to inventory management. IoT seems tailor-made for retailers, as their business naturally involves “things” and these things go on a journey from manufacturer, to distributor, to retailer, to the end customer. A great deal of information is generated along this journey, and capturing this information is invaluable. Information generated by adding IoT sensors, cameras, and other devices along the journey will affect the entire retail environment – from alerting salespeople in real time to adjusting broad marketing strategies.
1. Spotting Trends and Group Activities
An great example of IoT for retail is placing Bluetooth beacons throughout a store. These can be paired with the retailer’s shopping app which can develop real-time “heat maps” showing how consumers traverse the store. Armed with this information, store managers can better route customers, by for example moving two complementary items closer together for in order to increase the size of basket.
Larger trends around buying habits can also be formed. Younger mobile-equipped shoppers are quick to move on to the “next big thing,” and retailers that can catch the front of a “trend wave” have the most to gain in terms of market share and capturing long-term customers.
2. Simply Seamless Supply Chains
Sensors on shelves and in back-of-the-store inventory will correspond to real-time and accurate stock levels. Knowing this information at such at granular level can benefit the entire supply chain by largely eliminating rush manufacturer orders. IoT will reduce the usual discrepancy between inventory on the shelf and what is showing in a legacy management system. Better data means an easier job for warehouse managers.
Logistics providers are already ahead of the game with IoT. They are implementing sensors and scanners to properly manage packages throughout the entire chain. As retailers push hard towards same-day delivery, there’s a pressing need for maximum efficiency and speed. An army of sensors and data working together provide a seamless flow where problems can be spotted quickly, and shipments arrive on time.
And IoT will move into every facet of the supply chain. Weather sensors will now provide micro-climate data that can adjust routes and scheduling in real time, so retailers provide optimal deliveries. Items with short shelf lives such as perishable food will be better managed through IoT logistics, stock, and weather data at the local level.
3. Sensors and Other Tech Inside the Store
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