IoT in Retail: The Shopping and Purchasing Experience

2019-10-21 10_02_49-closeup photo of white robot arm photo – Free Clothing Image on Unsplash

If you’re feeling a little antsy for MWCLA this week, we don’t blame you. Top-notch talks, the chance to network with industry-leading experts, plus, iQmetrix is throwing a party?

This week has a lot in store. If you’re looking for a taste for what’s coming at you, look no further. We asked Stacy Hamer, our VP of Operations, to give us a sneak peek at her session: "IoT in Retail: The Shopping and Purchasing Experience.”

Retail is changing…

…But you already knew that. Why else would you be here?

The retail industry has gone through a significant evolution in the last decade thanks to the speedy, interconnected thing that we collectively call the internet. From shoppers’ expectations to retail operations, technological advances in e-commerce, mobile apps, and social networking has changed the landscape as we know it. Today’s customers are savvy and informed, and they expect their retail experiences to reflect an information-rich, personalized approach, one that lets them get what they want, when they want it.

2019-10-21 10_03_26-woman holding iPhone during daytime photo – Free Phone Image on Unsplash

And now, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), the shopping and purchasing experience is set to undergo yet another transformation.

The stores of the future

For the uninformed, or those who need a refresher, the IoT is more than just “things” of connected devices. IoT connects systems, providing unified visibility, real-time decisions, and deeper insights into customers, competition, products, and performance. It opens up a new way of thinking about the future, Like, drone delivery, robotic assisted surgery, robots manufacturing, improved online shopping experiences, automation tech, smart homes, and self-driving cars.

2019-10-21 10_02_49-closeup photo of white robot arm photo – Free Clothing Image on Unsplash

By 2025, it is estimated that there will be over 75 billion “things” connected to the Internet.

And if you’re anything like us, you have a lot of questions. What does an IoT shopping experience look like with 75 billion connected “things”?

Picture this:

You walk into a store and your smartphone sends you a notification. It tells you that the headphones that you were looking at online are in stock. Instantly, a map populates on your phone with their exact location in the store. You follow the directions on your phone where you find them on a display case.

After looking at a touchscreen that depicts their features, you decide to buy headphones. As you move away from the display, a robot appears and asks if you need help with anything else. After considering, you tell it there was a cell phone case online that caught your eye online. The robot accompanies you to the exact location of the cases you describe, helping you find the color you want. They’re out of cases in your phone model, but the robot is quickly able scan its store’s inventory system and tell you the exact date it will be restocked. Since you’re a customer with them, your name is in their system, and they can ship it to your address once you’ve paid.

You walk out of the store without paying any register – your items are scanned by sensors as you leave, with the price deducted from your mobile payment app. Meanwhile, the shelf that held the converter you just bought notes the purchase and communicates with the back-end inventory, alerting the system and managers to re-stock.

IoT will improve business

It’s okay if any of the above felt a bit too much like an episode of The Jetsons – we’re still getting used to having Alexa add items to our shopping cart, so shopping with robots might feel like a lot.

But the reality is that while it may seem like a leap to be asking a robot which color headphones best suites your complexion is, that's the future of shopping. And it's closer than you might think. Plus, it’s going to come with some pretty awesome advantages.

2019-10-21 10_02_38-turned on black quadcopter drone photo – Free Tech Image on Unsplash

IoT can increase efficiency for your supply chain management, reduce cost, enhance operational efficiencies, and improve your inventory management.

Not to mention the improvements to a fluid customer experience. Introverts, did your heart pitter-patter at the thought of not having to interact with a human? New parents, did you love the idea of having out-of-stock inventory sent directly to your home so you can avoid the hassle of another trip? Busy professionals, how great would it be to walk out of a store with your purchases without having to wait in line?

These kinds of changes are going to improve your customer's experience and help your business stay competitive. But you’ve got to start preparing.

Where do we go from here?

But we still have so many questions. Like, what does that change mean for customers? And what will that mean for businesses and their employees?

I’ve only just given you a glimpse at what we’ll dive into next week at MWCLA. Join me for my session at on Tuesday, October 23 in the Los Angeles Convention Center, Concourse 151 to learn more about what the future of retail holds.

Can’t make it but want to talk shop? Join us at our booth (#2246). We’ve got new products to show off, answers to your questions, and high fives to spare.

Come say hi!