These days, it seems like every tech expert is talking about the Internet of Things (IoT). But even as this buzzword takes over tech conferences and blogs, many retailers are a bit fuzzy on the concept of what IoT actually means and how it’s going to affect the way they do business.
If you’ve taken time to do a little of your own digging on the IoT, you’ve probably figured out the basic idea. In the very near future, it won’t just be computers and smartphones that are wirelessly connected. Within the next few years, data from our appliances, cars, houses and retail POS systems will all be flying back and forth on a worldwide global network.
But if you’ve been thinking of the IoT as something only big companies will profit from, then think again. You might be surprised to learn that IoT technologies can help boost your sales and raise your bottom line — right now, today — for a smaller investment than you might imagine. Here are four ways the IoT can work for your business.
Make personalized offers on the spot
Many of the latest generation of smartphones come with near field communication (NFC) chips, which let them share data, such as payment information, with nearby NFC-enabled devices with a simple swipe or tap. And just about every phone now comes with Bluetooth connectivity, which enables it to be identified by Bluetooth-enabled devices in the area.
A growing number of retail stores are already taking advantage of IoT technologies like these to deliver individualized offers and reminders to customers, right in the store. Digital signs and electronic shelf labels — which are now becoming affordable even for small stores — can make personalized suggestions based on a customer’s purchase history or rewards program membership.
Eliminate supply chain inefficiencies
The technology behind radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags has existed for more a decade, but its high costs made retailers slow to adopt it. Today, though, the costs of RFID have plummeted, and many companies now package their retail products with RFID tags, so they can easily track and count boxes with automated scanners.
What you might not know, though, is that IoT-enabled systems can use RFID data to alert your managers when a shipment is about to arrive — or when a product needs to be reordered or when it’s overstocked. This kind of proactive supply chain management can significantly raise your inventory accuracy and cut down on labor inefficiencies, too.
Cut down on loss and shrink
Another major benefit of RFID tracking is the ability to track shipments of time-sensitive products, like fresh meats or frozen foods. As you probably already know, many retailers use this kind of digital tracking to make sure their suppliers and 3PL (third-party logistics) providers deliver perishable shipments before they become unusable.
You might not have heard, though, that IoT-enabled applications can now directly alert your managers when an item is about to spoil or when a shipment has been damaged in transit, so they can take action right away.
Break up lines and streamline sales
You’ve probably seen workers at some restaurants using mobile POS (mPOS) systems to take orders and process payments right at the table. Some businesses even integrate these systems with their customer databases, to help staff members recognize customers and greet them by name.
But IoT-enabled POS systems can do much more than just make personalized offers. When interconnected across an entire store or restaurant, they can alert cashiers to open a new register or checkout lane. They can recognize customers who ordered via a smartphone app and alert your staff to bring them their purchases. These kinds of “line busting” can streamline traffic through your store and create happier customers who are eager to buy more.
Efficiencies, personalized experiences, and advanced hardware are several ways retailers and restaurants are transforming their operations to realize new profit opportunities. Leveraging data is also key in this pivotal stage. If you liked this article, read on by downloading “Using Better Data to Drive an Increased Share of Wallet”. Learn about the components of a data driven Point of Sale system, optimization techniques, and use the Big Data checklist provided in this whitepaper to help future-proof your point of sale operations for future growth and sustainability.