If you have been paying attention to tech news in recent years, you have no doubt heard of the Internet of Things. If you haven’t been paying attention, fear not. Many of those who have waded through countless articles are still hard-pressed to come up with a clear explanation for the Internet of Things.
Luckily for both camps, we’re here to shed some light on the Internet of Things, and more importantly, how you can use it to your advantage.
Seriously, what IS the Internet of Things?
If you’re of a certain age, you probably remember watching shows that depicted life in the future like Star Trek and the Jetsons. We may not be in regular contact with different alien species (yet?), but we’re getting closer every day to what used to be laughed off as pure science fiction.
Take the device that may be in your hand, purse or pocket right now. That little “communicator” connects you to over 75% of the world with a few taps on a screen. It can also be used to control a WiFi enabled thermostat to lower the temperature in your living room, whether you’re in the next room or on the other side of the world.
It’s not just your phone, either. Let’s say you start watching a movie on Netflix on your TV, but decide to watch the rest another time. Days or even weeks later, when you pick up another device like your laptop or tablet, that movie is waiting for you right where you left off.
These little transitions happen seamlessly across a multitude of devices all over the house, the office, the country, and the world.
Simply put, everything is connected. Information between this myriad of connected devices is shared as required with all of the other devices in the “system.” All of the data is stored in the cloud without you ever having to give it much thought. And THAT, in a nutshell, is the Internet of Things.
Moving Beyond the Home
Knowing that one day, your fridge will keep its own inventory and will automatically update the shopping list saved on your phone is handy. However, it’s hardly an innovation that’s going to save lives in every corner of the universe.
But broaden the focus a little…
In agriculture, farmers can get updates on soil conditions in the middle of the night so they can prioritize the day along with their morning coffee. Crops can be watered as needed, preserving water supplies and improving annual yields. An end to crop shortages could literally change the world.
And in the world of medicine? This level of inter-connectedness has the potential to save lives every day. Imagine what happens to the quality of life for patients in long-term care facilities if the staff is alerted to a diabetic patient’s low blood sugar before the big crash. The possibilities are endless and very, very exciting.
What are Retail Applications for Internet of Things?
Wondering what any of this has to do with retail operations?
We talk a lot about how to keep people busy while they’re waiting in line and making sure that customers using your fitting rooms can get help when they need it. A lot of this advice relies on making sure you have engaged sales associates on the floor at all times. Now you’ll still need engaged sales associates, but technological enhancements can help them become more efficient, thus increasing their sales potential every day.
Think about the benefits of an app that helps shoppers find their way around the store and allows them to collect their loyalty points at the cashwrap. Now imagine pushing targeted ads to the customer through that app based on where they are in the store RIGHT NOW!
Enhancements to the fitting room experience are an area that’s particularly exciting to us. Imagine shoppers having the option to request another size or another color with one touch of a button. The online tactic of recommending upsells and cross-sells based on what’s in a shopper’s cart can be adapted to the fitting room, where brick and mortar retailers have the upper hand.
It’s a brave new world, and early adopters of the latest and greatest technology can swoop in to secure their rightful place at the forefront of it all.
Retailers that take the lead in this space stand to gain an important advantage in an already competitive environment. Early adopters will be positioned to more quickly deliver IoT-enabled capabilities that can increase revenue, reduce costs and drive a differentiated brand experience. ~Accenture
The Last Word
When people talk about possibilities for the future, they tend to think too small, not too big. The Internet of Things is one area where there is a virtually unlimited opportunity for growth, innovation, and creativity. Implementing one connected strategy in your retail store opens the door to a world of potential. Are you ready to take the first step?