It seems as though everywhere we turn today, we hear about the Internet of Things and how it will change our everyday lives.
One area we might not think of IoT making an impact is the retail experience, yet a connected future could arrive sooner than we might think.
Businesses in every industry can take advantage of a number of benefits by implementing IoT technology, including improved processing and efficiency, along with a greater understanding of customers, and greater targeted marketing.
While the opportunities are significant, many businesses still struggle with developing a clear strategy for implementing this revolutionary technology. This has proven to be particularly true in the retail industry. Among the biggest issues facing retailers is ensuring that they leverage the true power of this technology.
Considering a few critical areas can help retailers do precisely that.
Retailers should keep in mind that customers today are not only mobile first, but are also always on their mobile devices. For the first time ever in 2015, mobile devices surpassed desktop usage. This represents a tremendous shift in the behavior of consumers, and retailers need to make certain they not only understand this paradigm shift but are also prepared to cater to mobile-first, connected consumers.
Retailers that are slow to make this change will fall behind the competition. The good news is that a mobile-first approach means retailers can engage and reach customers anywhere and at any time.
Research indicates that today's consumers use their smartphones regularly to assist in making purchasing decisions as well as researching pricing, even while they are in the store. In spite of such research, only a small number of retailers cater to this trend.
To succeed in today's digital world, retailers must move beyond brick-and-mortar and also focus on the online shopping experience. Designing attractive displays and making use of in-store sales displays such as display racks will always be important, but retailers must also work harder to understand the rapidly changing behaviors of consumers.
Ideally, retailers should strive to provide a blended experience by offering opportunities that bridge the gap between offline and online shopping. One way to do this is by using beacons at targeted locations in the store to transmit digital messages and content to customers to enhance their shopping experience. Such content could be information about discounts, current sales, recipes using specific products, etc.
When implemented correctly, IoT can provide benefits for both consumers and businesses.
While retailers should take care to never spam consumers, many business owners who are reluctant to implement this technology are surprised to find that a vast majority of consumers actually prefer to communicate with businesses in this manner.