Oracle is giving the following definition of IoT: The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet.
IoT has a lot of uses for commerce. IoT needs to be considered part of Artificial Intelligence as IoT is about data first. In a nutshell, IoT brings digital analytics to physical entities. Let’s analyze all IoT uses for retail:
Route Optimization: trackers are put on trucks doing the delivery. They can optimize their route plan and deliver faster to the customer. The fulfillment process is made more visible. With a customer getting more and more used to same-day delivery, it is necessary for brands to reduce their delivery time and meets these needs. Delivery is also an expensive overhead for companies. By being able to manage it more tightly, they can improve productivity and save money to reduce the impact of the bottom line.
In-Store navigation: IoT facilitates in-store navigation and helps customers navigate through the store. It helps with store mapping to indicate to the customer where amenities are or locate the products they are looking for. Kiosks are also set up across the store for customers to check product availability and details using RFID.
Product details: What we have done is to also use the mobile device for customers to be able to have more information about a specific product and complement the store associate. Too often, store associates are not available, or some customers do not want to be bothered so they now can have access to the information they want by themselves. They just ‘’scan’’ a specific product and all the details of the product come up.
Foot traffic: IoT helps retailers understand how customers are behaving within their stores. It is providing the same functionalities as what an online heatmap will provide, showing where customers click and what is of more interest to them. With IoT, the same functionalities are made available for physical stores. By understanding foot traffic better, IoT helps manage staffing levels. A store can better allocate its staff either by positioning them in an area of the store that has more traffic or adjusting quickly because the amount of customers is increasing at a certain time and move staff around.
Warehouse picking machines: Machines in warehouses are now smart enough to locate where a product is on a shelf and move to the right location where it is picked. The warehouse floor is mapped and allows an increase in productivity as products are located in a faster way improving the overall process.
Voice Search: Voice search is getting more and more present in SEO. As consumers are using Alexa, they are using voice to get information about products. Sound and sentences need to be optimized so that it returns the most accurate results when a customer is searching using voice.
Smart checkout: the best example is Amazon Go, where customers walk in and out and never have to go through the cash register to pay their purchase.
Inventory tracking: thanks to RFID, we can measure stock levels automatically and control better turn and replenishment processes.
Geofencing: With the use of GPS and beacon, brands can push personalized coupons to customers when they enter a store or are getting closer to an aisle. Based on the interests they might have expressed online via their browsing and purchasing history, we can determine what a customer would like. This is closing the loop from an omnichannel perspective as it blends digital and physical for customers.
Customer journey: with IoT helping better understand customer behaviors in physical stores, it is now possible to map the customer journey automatically. We can capture the data and understand where the customers are going, where they are spending the most time, and what they are doing.
Smart mirrors in fitting rooms: Customers can get information about a specific outfit, get recommendations, and pay directly from the fitting room.