With so many choices for tech implementation, it’s hard to understand how each piece works – much less how each piece works together. Enter the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things creates a network between connected devices. Think: Alexa connects to outlets that speaks to one another through the app on your phone, so you can go home and say, “Alexa, turn on the light.” Of course, the IoT bucket isn’t limited to smart home devices. Toss in wearables (that Fitbit on your arm), ingestibles (Yes, swallowing a camera at the doctor’s office for diagnostic purposes counts.), automatic check-out, smart shelves, in-store robots, smart meters and . . . and . . . and . . . and.
I don’t get it. How does this change retail?
When you build a connected system for your store, you make the shopping process faster, easier and more streamlined for your guests. And, in addition, less hands-on for your employees – so they can focus more time on doing business and less time worrying about stocking shelves. Here’s a snapshot:
Picture the store of the future: a customer enters your store to visit a sofa they saw online. While sitting on the sofa, a beacon located in the showroom sends detailed product data – including product dimensions, stock quantity, upholstery options and delivery information to their phone because they installed your app a couple of months ago when they started their search.
Additionally, they receive a digital discount offer on said sofa and coordinating décor items. They add sofa, pillows and a lamp to their cart, click buy on their phone, pay with their online wallet and schedule delivery and set up to their home – all without talking to a sales representative.
That’s a pretty dramatic change to retail, huh?
So, what does this equate to in dollars?
McKinsey & Co., a consulting firm that helps businesses integrate technology, predicts that the Internet of Things will account for $410 billion to $1.2 trillion dollars of business per year by 2025. That’s quite the number.
However, in their research, they insist that the true value of IoT is in interoperability and B2B services. Two times as much!
Think about it – the value of IoT not only lies in a decrease of unnecessary business expenses and lowered operational costs. Your business will realize amazing value in the ability to make running your business easier and more efficient.
Does that include software I use to make my job easier?
An emphatic and enthusiastic YES! Now you’ve got it!
The Internet of Things relies heavily on software as a service. This makes it easy to create automations for your business. For example, when you sign up for product data services from Amber Engine. Not only does the information populate your website, but It also creates the information you need for personalized and targeted messaging. Likewise, when you incorporate smart shelving, it works with your inventory data to create a robust network of business information that would ordinarily be completed manually.
Am I tracking? Software and data are at the heart of IoT?
Right again! Data in all forms create the heart of IoT. This network of devices communicates with one another to make data useful and easy for your business to interpret.
The goal for the Store of the Future, then, is not to use the data to spot abnormal peaks or oddities in sales patterns. But rather use the data in a predictive way to conduct business proactively rather than reactively.
How do I get started?
Think about your city and the resident’s willingness to adopt new technologies. Then, start slow. Would beacon delivered product data be a good first step? Great! Start there. Later, add mobile or other alternate payment options – but link the two systems so they work together. Down the road you might want to piggyback your security cameras.
The point is that you can move as slowly or quickly as your customer is ready. After all, the Internet of Things is designed to make things easier on everyone – not more challenging. So, if beacons are too much too fast, automate your product data. That’s the single best first step you can take as a business – since the rest of the technology relies on that information. From there, your set on a course for interconnected success.
Want to learn more about making business easier? Check out ourTime Hacks for Home Furnishing Retail.