How will IOT Impact Retail?

AUTHOR:  Rochelle Drenan

In the retail world, the Internet of Things (IoT) is fast becoming the best way to meet consumer demand for engaging, convenient, personalized experiences.  Retailers are discovering the value in knowing more about their shoppers and their preferences.  With IoT, retailers can now leverage sensors to track which aisles a shopper is visiting, where they spent the most time within those aisles, and even what type of items they lifted and browsed.  Real-time environmental monitoring using light, sound, and temperature sensors are being used to improve store operations, lower costs, and save energy.  Meanwhile, RFID and smart shelves allow retailers to accurately track products, thus optimizing inventory control.  There are a wide range of IOT processes available to retailers (see Table 1) that can provide major improvements to overall KPIs.

Here are Use Cases where IOT is used to improve the retail experience.

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Analyze Foot Traffic

Presence sensors allow retailers to understand their customer’s path through their store, giving them a better understanding of shopping patterns and allowing the retailer to enhance their customer’s in-store experience.  By knowing where shoppers are, you know which areas in your store attract the most customers allowing you to optimize the layout of your store.

You can also determine if the areas with the highest traffic are your highest performers.   By knowing exactly where shoppers are going and how long they’re staying, retailers can plan their marketing, store displays, product offerings, staffing and operations to match the opportunity at hand.

Medium One receives data from sensors situated around the retail store shelves.  All sensor data can be visualized on the store layout in real-time.   The retailer can view foot traffic patterns throughout the day as detected by the different sensors.  By analyzing foot traffic and providing visibility into what’s happening on the sales floor, the retailer can improve overall conversion rate and average transaction size.  In addition, the retailer can optimize store layout and product positioning based on this analysis.

Real-Time Environmental Monitoring

Retailers have known about the benefits of sound and lighting for some time, and are aware that both enhance the perception of value of merchandise and the retail environment.  Lighting can greatly enhance the desired traffic flow through a retail space, directing customers to intended point of sale areas.  Proper lighting can attract and engage shoppers and ensure repeat visits.  Meanwhile, having the right sound element can provide a positive uplift in consumer shopping.

Once sound and lighting levels are established, sensors throughout the store can continuously monitor them for proper levels.  When deviations or anomalies are detected, a notification to the right personnel can immediately remedy the situation.

Medium One’s Anomaly Detection Workflow processes Light and Sound sensor data and based on past trends, detects if these levels constitute an anomaly or meet the expectations at a particular time of the week.  Under the hood, Medium One’s machine learning technology observes light and sound levels at all hours of the day and week and learns the patterns as they change over the course of the store’s hours.  Deviations from the norm trigger an event such as a notification to the staff manager to take action.  Example actions might be to inspect an area with unusual noise or replace a broken light bulb.

By engaging customers on all levels including sight and sound, retailers can create a more inviting environment where shoppers stay longer, spend more, and want to return.  Through real-time monitoring, retailers are able to control and continuously maintain proper light and sound levels in their stores.

Automated Customer Dispatch

Kiosks for customer use can also be a differentiator for retailers to attract and retain customers.  Retailers need to meet consumer demand for an improved customer experience.  Providing fast, convenient service through kiosks is one way to address this need.  To ensure that sales associates enhance the customer shopping experience, they need to respond to customers in a timely fashion.

Medium One can intelligently dispatch retail staff in response to a customer pressing a help button at a Kiosk.  Our Dispatch Help workflow considers which department the kiosk is located in and which department expert is available to assist the customer.  An Android/iOS notification or an SMS message is then sent by Medium One to dispatch the most relevant staff member to the kiosk from which the customer has requested help.  Kiosks can increase conversion by making sure your operations are efficient and your customers get the assistance they need.

Understand Key Demographics

Understanding a store’s demographic data allows the retailer to improve the customer experience, personalize that experience, and increase conversions.  A simple example of demographic analysis is gender detection.  Transactions from a Point of Sale (PoS) terminal, including transaction amount and name of the credit card holder can be used to classify shoppers as Male or Female using Medium One’s machine learning technology.  Implemented in our Guess Gender Workflow, we learn gender based on first names, which we then use to analyze purchase activity by gender.

We can also analyze time-based patterns – for example which hours of the week are the top sellers for Male vs Female shoppers.  If a retailer had other information, this type of processing could expand into gathering additional insight, such as tracking repeat activities, learning about preferences, etc.

 

SUMMARY

Retail use cases are just one of the many IOT workflows that can be developed using Medium One’s Data Intelligence Platform.  To learn more on how you can rapidly build and deploy your own workflows, check us out at www.mediumone.com

Author: Rochelle Drenan