How is the Internet of Things poised to revolutionize analytics in high street retail?
Connecting with the customer
Internet of Things (IoT) devices are paving the way for “smart stores”, where interaction with consumers’ mobile devices can provide a responsive and immersive retail experience; one that tailors the store directly to a customer’s needs. Providing a customer experience that feels personalized and tailored to each individual is the Holy Grail for high street retail, and IoT provides tools that can take retailers closer than ever to providing a bespoke experience for each customer.
The line between digital and high street retail is becoming more and more blurred, as stores integrate their digital platforms with their in-store experiences. Some retailers are offering their own apps or services such as on-the-go ordering, where customers can browse and order their purchases online, either using their computers or mobile devices, before picking up their order in stores. These apps can also provide features to enhance the in-store experience, such as maps or offers based on real-time information about the customer, coming from their mobile devices.
But when you start to integrate this omni-channel strategy into an IoT-ready store, things start to get really interesting.
The whole shopping experience becomes a two-way process, as almost every aspect of the retail environment becomes interactive. While the customers receive info from in-store apps, beacons in the store can alert sales associates of loyal customers, providing them with projections of the customer’s tastes and recommended purchase suggestions for the associate to give.
With these tools, staff can offer informed recommendations, to help improve the customer experience and drive brand loyalty. All areas of the store can be transformed into marketing opportunities – for instance, traditional marketing displays no longer have to be static anymore, as digital signage can respond to devices and show personalized advertisements to users, based on social media data picked up from their mobile devices. Meanwhile, store mannequins can have sensors integrated that allow users to instantly look up the price and location of the outfits on display. Even the fitting rooms can be integrated into an IoT network, as integrated touch screens within the mirrors can allow users to quickly compare and search for alternative sizes and outfits without leaving their cubicle.
Once you’ve got the customers in store with your amazing, interactive retail interface, you’ve got to manage how they move through the environment. Sensors can be employed to keep track of store traffic, allowing you to analyse where congestion issues occur, enabling retailers to drastically reduce the frustration and stress that a busy shop floor can bring to customers.
You can even go a step further and use this tracking data to optimize your in-store displays. By analysing where customers spend the most time in the store, you can position marketing targeted at them, located where it can be the most effective. Shelf display positioning can also become more refined, as you can position shelf displays where they are most likely to be attractive to the right customers. In the past, competition for shelf-space had been a sophisticated art, as different products compete for limited room. Now, analytics-informed positioning with data retrieved through IoT sensors can help towards turning shelving into a science, as the displays and positioning are tailored towards their ideal customer and can track eye movement, quantity of customers passing by and number of times products are taken from the shelves.
For instance, if a product kept being taken from the shelf for a customer to review, then was repeatedly replaced, it could be difficult for the retailer to gain any insight about the product if it had never actually reached the checkout point. However with IoT sensors tracking when a product was taken from the shelf, how many were returned to the shelf vs purchased and how long customers stayed in front of the shelf, retailers can be much more analytical about their displays and identify what is and isn’t working.
The future is now
Some of this tech sounds like it’s been lifted straight out of a sci-fi film. But these are features that are available to retailers now. The Aurora sensor is a device that allows for in-store traffic analysis to an incredibly sophisticated degree, so sophisticated in fact that it can exclude staff from its analysis for more accurate reporting. Companies like Offer Moments provide sophisticated digital billboards that produce personalized advertisements based on the location and demographic of those who approach them.
One of the most sophisticated high street experiences is actually here in the UK: The Pro: Direct sportswear store in Foubert’s Place, London (Retail Customer Experience). They partnered with Green Room Design and opened in 2014, boasting digital screens on almost every surface, interactive, digital mannequins, and responsive advertisements, all of which are fully interactive for the customer.
Bigger things to come
In truth, we are currently only in the infancy of integrating IoT into any aspect of our everyday lives, let alone into retail. As retailers become more aware of the benefits of IoT integrated stores, the demand for the devices will increase. This will lead to the devices becoming even more sophisticated, which in turn will enhance the quality of the analytics the sensors can provide.
There is huge potential for IoT in retail, requiring just imaginative and creative applications of the technology that is available today.
Image provided courtesy of Takashi Kiso
We’ve just published a whitepaper on how Predictive Analytics is changing the retail experience, download it here: http://www.c24.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/C24-Predictive-Analytics-in-Retail-Whitepaper.pdf
C24 is pleased to announce their latest whitepaper on Predictive Analytics in Retail.
What’s in the whitepaper?
We look at how analytics is changing the traditional shopping experience – and how in-store operations are being integrated with online e-commerce practices.
Why should I read it?
If you want to stay up to date with how analytics, and more specifically predictive analytics is influencing the retail experience, then download the whitepaper today to find out more.
Why has C24 written this whitepaper?
C24 is heavily focussed on business analytics – we have a product called Bi24 which we deliver to businesses across the country, especially to the legal sector who use the analytics tool to better manage their operations. We also work heavily in the hospitality and retail sector, and see some of the technology coming down the line in the retail sector as a big opportunity for retailers looking to capitalise on big data within their organisations.