Last month, Amazon launched its long-awaited Amazon Go store in Seattle—a brick-and-mortar shopping experience that merges technology and physical reality in a whole new way. By scanning their Amazon Go app, shoppers can choose what they want and leave the store without ever stopping to pay for their items. A dream for introverts—and busy people—everywhere, Amazon Go allows shoppers to complete their shopping experience without ever having to interact with another human. But its impact is also much bigger: it’s symbolic of the fluid nature of today’s retail environment, one where online, mobile, and physical environments roll together to create an omni-channelexperience for shoppers.
One technology that promises to help retailers take advantage of this shift is the Internet of Things (IoT).
Can you imagine walking into your favorite store and getting a personalized notification on your phone with a coupon for something you regularly buy? Or pulling up an app on your phone that will tell you the exact location of a product you want to buy and how many there are on the shelf? More retailers are using the IoT to connect with consumers like this, which will ultimately revolutionize the way we shop—not just in Seattle, but all over the world. In fact, I’d say consumer demand has been heading in this direction for quite a while, and the IoT is giving retailers a way to catch up with their increasing omni-channel expectations.
Nearly 80 percent of retailers say it’s “business critical” that they integrate omnichannel experiences into their stores. The following are just a few reasons why:
It Merges the Physical and Digital Realms
Using sensors and smart beacon technologies in-store, retailers can connect with shoppers in a more personal way as they shop, tailoring their experience with coupons for items they typically use. They might even proactively alert a customer when their favored location is out of a certain product they regularly purchase—offering info on the next closest location to find it—or creating a “click to purchase” to instantly order the item and have it shipped directly to the user’s home. If you’ve ever used the painfully clunky, and now defunct, Target Cartwheel app, this might seem farfetched to you. But technology promises to create a more seamless experience for customers that will save customers time, while also building brand loyalty.