5 Ways Retailers Benefit from ‘Internet of Things’

Most action on the online depends upon human interaction. Email, social networking, blogs, video, online shopping — it all requires people. But there is another, independent use of the Web that does not rely on humans. It links”items,” such as medical devices, kitchen appliances, vehicles, thermostats, sensors — tens of thousands of things.

Thus, the”Internet of Things” enables physical objects to communicate with one another by connecting them to the Internet. There are more than two billion connected devices being used today. It is expected to rise to over 18 billion connected devices by 2022. Internet of Things — IoT — has gained greater adoption in the past couple of years with the falling prices of IoT-enabled apparatus and detectors and the access to Big Data solutions that can process millions of events per second in realtime.

Ecommerce merchants and offline retailers may utilize IoT too. This report lists five examples.

Inventory Management

Managing inventory is a challenge. IoT assists by deploying sensors, such as radio frequency tags, on products to monitor them in realtime. The monitoring can be done everywhere, like on store shelves, in a storage area, or in a warehouse. The sensors can also track the location of an whole pallet. All the information generated by the sensors can be linked to a realtime event-processing solution to track stock levels, increase alerts, and automatically place orders. This may also be used by a merchant’s vendors to replenish stock by monitoring the information from the detectors. This contributes to greater inventory accuracy and greater utilization of the merchant’s working capital.

Walmart was an early adopter of IoT for stock management to maximize its warehouse and supply chain operations. Other large retailers are currently using IoT in their supply chains also.

Fleet Management

GPS devices have been used for a long time to monitor movement of shipping trucks. IoT takes this to another level by allowing rules to be defined — the shipping route, the recommended rate, adjusting the storage temperature automatically while hauling perishable items, increasing alerts for any unplanned or lengthy stoppages, and identifying maintenance issues prior to the truck breaks down. This leads to lowering fuel costs, reduced theft and loss, accurate lead times, and prolonging the life span of the fleet. Customers may also use the information from the IoT devices to monitor their goods in realtime, versus getting intermittent updates from sending suppliers.

UPS’s fleet, as an instance, is now fitted with tracking devices to decrease costs and enhance driver efficiency.

Care and Warranty

Products which require post-sale support or are covered by a warranty can be monitored using IoT. This causes realtime information being sent from sensors on the goods back to the merchant, which aids in identifying malfunctions or warranty difficulties. Furthermore, this data may be utilized to enhance the products, as retailers understand how the clients use them. High-ticket items use the embedded sensors to monitor the item in the event of a theft.

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General Electric is the best example of utilizing IoT for predictive maintenance in its jet engines, turbines, and wind farms. By analyzing data in realtime, GE saves time and costs, as technicians understand when to see, say, a wind farm, to sustain a windmill versus creating unnecessary periodic excursions as part of scheduled maintenance.

Realtime Promotions

Mobile phones are an integral part of IoT. Many retailers use them to send realtime promotions, which are generally sent based on factors like the customer’s shopping history, personal preferences, location, in addition to realtime weather, traffic, and special occasions. It’s necessary to prioritize the promotions and send just 1 promotion to the client’s phone to decrease confusion. So-called omni-channel retailers use this feature to send promotions for products from the physical shop the client has already researched in their notebook or mobile device. Location-based monitoring is also being used to provide assistance to clients who were roaming the store.

American Express, for instance, has partnered with various retailers to give realtime promotions based on a client’s place and credit card activity.

Next Generation Vending Machines

IoT has helped the vending machine market. Now vending machine providers can communicate in realtime to track machines’ inventory levels, enable predictive maintenance, locate the closest machine which has the product a customer needs, and elastically price products based on factors such as demand, weather patterns, and available inventory. Some vending machines are using sensors to track whether the consumable product is spoiling and can cut the price instantly to generate earnings before the item goes bad. Interactive vending machines are also available that can get into a customer’s history and advocate the ideal set of goods, whether it’s in the vending machine, at the physical store, or accessible online.