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How IoT is changing the retail industry

It's surprising to think that only a few short years ago many retailers were using manual point of sale (POS) systems, keeping paper records and hefty physical inventory catalogues. Now that most retailers use digital POS systems with integrated EFTPOS, it's hard to imagine how any retailer managed in the archaic times of the 20th century. As technology progresses, so too do our shopping habits, which begs the question: What new technology is coming next, and how will it change the retail industry?

What's in-store for the internet of things?

The internet of things (IoT) has been a popular talking point for the last few years. IoT refers to the interconnectivity of smart devices that can autonomously share data with each other, and where necessary, act on the data received. This tech has huge implications for retail, and much of this is beginning to take shape as we speak.

Take the concept of smart shelves, for example. Most retailers will have witnessed that elusive customer that walks into the shop and leaves 30 seconds later. They knew what product they wanted, but the shelf was empty, and so that's one sale you've missed out on. What if the shelves themselves could communicate with your stock personnel and that gap could have been filled immediately? Whether you're running a small boutique or a department store, this small but important change will make a solid contribution towards your bottom line, as well as providing your customers with a better experience.

Wooden shelves of a boutique retailerThese are lovely shelves, but unless you run a shelf store they're unlikely to produce revenue. It's far easier to sell stock when it's on display! 

Can data analysis and automation help you provide tailored shopping experiences?

What if you could combine data of your customers' online browsing with micro-location technology? You could get an alert when they've come into your store. You see they have frequently browsed shoes on your website and dwelled for considerable time on one option. From this, you can discern that they are most likely onsite to check the shoes out in person. Of course, in the old days you'd be asking them open-ended questions, trying to elicit information.

In this situation you know how you can help before you even approach this customer. This kind of machine learning will be highly beneficial to retailers in the coming years. AI in the retail sector will be based on predictive models rather than time travelling Arnold Schwarzenegger's, but the potential applications are endless.

These are merely two of an infinite number of ways IoT technologies can improve your retail business, and these are only based on tech that currently exists. What will be on the table five years from now? Expanding your revenue opportunities and employing technology to enhance real-world retail experience is the key to a changing industry.

LOOKUP.COM can help you stay on top of new ways to boost productivity and profit in your business. Contact us today to integrate the best retail IT solutions into your business.