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How the Internet of Things is changing retail

picThe Internet of Things has become firmly cemented as part of our everyday life. As the world has become more digital and we’ve become more connected, our technology has learned to interact in new ways. Given the incredible advances we’ve recently made, our lives themselves have changed, too. In just over a decade, we’ve gone from slow communication and information gathering to instant communication.

It’s no wonder then that this has also affected how we do retail.

Why the Internet of Things matters

To understand the importance of all of this, we need to know what the Internet of Things (IoT) is. As Wired defines it:

“The Internet of Things revolves around increased machine-to-machine communication; it’s built on cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors; it’s mobile, virtual, and instantaneous connection; and they say it’s going to make everything in our lives from streetlights to seaports “smart.”

For example, your phone can be synced up with your alarm system, each one alerting the other as to your presence or an invasion. Other more fancy examples might be your car alerting your phone when it needs repairs.

The interaction between objects is as important as our own. All of these connected devices are, effectively, talking to each other. The main goal is to simplify our lives to achieve ends more efficiently.

How retail is affected

In a new study, Retail Systems Research (RSR) found that the majority (54%) of retailers across the world, with sales growth that is above-average, said they believed the IoT will drastically change how companies do business in the next few years.

As eMarketer reports: “Studies that have assessed the market size and growth potential for the retail IoT agree that retailers are already making substantial investments.”

It was found that every aspect from supply chains to point of sale was or will be affected by advances made with the IoT. Other experts agree, not only with eMarketer but the retailers themselves. There’s an understanding that customers expect the instant responses that comes from the IoT. After all, online retail and free delivery has made large parts of physical shopping unnecessary.

Online shopping doesn’t require you to travel, look for parking, search, carry and so on. These benefits mean you could acquire your items while simply seated on a couch. Knowing this, retailers who exist in the physical space have had to create ways to benefit customers.

This is why they must improve their software, improve their technology to allow for mobile or other client-based payment options (such as SnapScan) and any other aspect using connected tech. Retailers must catch up with their customers or their customers will move on to those who are willing to keep pace.