“Internet of Things” has existed for quite a while but its implementation in various industries has gained momentum recently. The benefits that IoT can bring to businesses is being recognized now and organizations are starting to take steps in this direction. Simply put IoT is a network of objects that can communicate through the internet.
And this technology can be extremely beneficial to the retail industry if they act proactively and take initiatives. Yes, IoT is still in a nascent stage but still retailers can start taking benefit of it and upgrade as IoT evolves.
Internationally, big retail chains has already starting using IoT for various business purposes. Here we bring you 5 different strategies which Retailers in India can employ to take advantage of IoT.
Way #1: Managing Inventory efficiently with IoT
Inventory management is one of the most important task for any retailer. Too much or too less of inventory can impact the business and can lead to losses. Hence maintaining the right levels of inventory is a big challenge. However, IoT can help in managing it efficiently. In fact, large retailers like Walmart have already started using IoT to manage their inventory.
With the help of IoT, retailers can deploy sensors like radio frequency tags on the products and use it to track the products on a real-time basis. Through this the retailer can know much inventory is on the store shelf, in the storage or in the warehouse and based on this tracking he can take decisions with respect to product movements to avoid empty store shelves. Also through sensors, alerts can be raised when inventory dips to a certain level for it to be re-filled. This leads to better inventory management and efficient use of retailer’s working capital.
Way 2: IoT can help to reduce retail shrinkage
Retail shrinkage is a challenge faced by every retailer be it from shoplifters or stealing by store employees. IoT can help to reduce this. Retailers can take advantage of IoT by implementing smarter in-store technologies like smarter cameras or RFID tags to reduce shrinkage. Companies like Panasonic are working towards bringing in smart shelf technology and powerful cameras to enhance the store’s ability to track and manage their products.
With more powerful cameras they can capture all the movement happening in the store and products with RFID (radio frequency identification) tags can be tracked if someone tries to take them out of store and if in any case it is stolen, these tags can help to identify the product when it is sold in gray market also.
Way 3: Improved Maintenance and Warranty
Maintenance and Warranty is another important aspect of retail selling and especially for products that require post-sale service or are under warranty. IoT can help to track the health of the product by fitting in sensors on the products sold and these sensors will send real-time data to retailer giving him information about malfunctions or warranty issues. This can improve post-sales service to customers. Also such data can help in product improvement and innovations.
An excellent example is of General Electric. GE uses IoT for predictive maintenance for its jet engines, turbines, and wind farms. Hence by analyzing real-time data, GE technicians are able to know when to make visits for maintenance rather than unnecessary periodic trips
Way #4: Price Optimization
Right pricing for any product is very important to garner sales. IoT can help in optimizing prices automatically. It will compare the demand to supply of a particular product and also make comparisons of similar products available with other retailers to give an optimal price on a real-time basis. This will help the retailer grow his sales and will also be beneficial to the customers.
Way # 5: Real-time Promotions
Promotions are one of the key ways to increase sales and especially in the retail space. And real-time promotions with the help of IoT can be extremely beneficial. Retailers can collect data using IoT about customer’s preferences, shopping history, location, credit card activity and such other variables and based on analysis send only relevant and customized promotions to the customer. Such prioritizing and customization will help them to target the consumers in an efficient way.
By taking initiatives to imbibe Internet of Things in their business, retailers can take advantage and manage efficiently everything from inventory to customers. It’s on the part of the retail industry to be proactive and take steps necessary for successful implementation of IoT in their retail business. This will not only lead to customer satisfaction but also help the company in boosting their sales and reducing costs.