How IoT Enables Personalized Engagement in Retail


he granularity of information that is available to enterprises is changing how corporations engage with their target audience. In an earlier era, the only way brands could build conversation with customers was through channels like Television, Print and Radio. Switch to the current scenario, Julie a young Big Data Analyst working in a new age Fintech firm is moving towards her office, as she is about to move past her favorite coffee shop, she receives an alert on her mobile phone, offering her the chance to order her coffee from her phone, she does that and is able to pick the coffee as she is moving past the shop. The scenario described is easily possible using a combination of Internet Enabled Devices like Beacons and mobile phone.

Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming how businesses operate, from scenarios ranging from Quality to Building consumer engagement the use cases are multiple.

New Age IoT application can be created by writing just a couple of lines of code, Think Raspberry Pi with an image processing module. IOT can be leveraged for driving context to an app from beacons or similar hardware.

IoT application can help create a context-driven user engagement that takes inputs from devices and helps drive personalized engagements with the consumer that was impossible till couple of years back. With tools like Beacons, RFID readers and other Near Field communication devices IoT allows developers to integrate with devices ranging from smart TVs to mobiles.

At the heart of technology in retail today sits Internet of Things (IoT), a network of interconnected devices and data analytics that is ushering in a new era of customer delight and convenience. By bringing relevant experiences and information to them, IoT is paving the way for hitherto unexplored levels of consumer engagement for retail businesses.

How Checkout Lines could disappear through IoT

Managing checkout lines have for long been an area of challenge for retailers. Long checkout lines lead to cart abandonment and managing duty roster could be a fulltime job for someone in an in store environment. IoT is fast getting rid of what sticks out as a sore thumb in many retail customer experiences - the checkout line. Amazon Go stores in the USA have employed machine vision and IoT sensors to enable customers to easily pay for their purchase through their Amazon account. Customers can simply walk out of the store after shopping. This scenario presents unique opportunities for Amazon, by geo tagging customers and analyzing not only there purchase history but also shopping pattern it builds unique insights hitherto not possible without IoT. Retailers by leveraging IoT are able to give out personalized coupons to shoppers or guide them to the location of their favorite products via various devices. With the adoption of IoT refrigerators and devices like Alexa IoT-enabled systems will be able to look at customer shopping lists and alert them on sales or items going out of stock.

How Beacons fit into this scenario

Beacons are Bluetooth low energy devices (BLE) that use Bluetooth signals to send push notifications to shoppers’ smartphones once they appear in the coverage area. Customers are notified about offers, discounts etc., increasing the likelihood of them entering a store and making a purchase. Being portable and small, beacons are easily attached to walls, counters, and other places. Retail companies as well as brands use them for promotional activities, in-store navigation, sending push messages, and collecting customer data. Beacons build customer loyalty as retailers are able to reach their audience and provide personalized experience.

From boring paper based Tags to Smart Shelves

By adopting three elements: RFID tag, RFID reader, antenna and a display devices retail industry can easily migrate towards smart shelves. RFID tags are placed on goods and relay information to the RFID reader which is then sent to a centralized IoT platform where it’s stored and analyzed.

Smart shelves make for effective inventory management tools, a process long riddled with inefficiencies and high costs. Through the automatic monitoring of inventory in a store, they can send alerts to owners and managers on items running low.

Smart shelves also deliver intelligent insights into customer behavior. By transmitting data about the movement of goods to the IoT platform, they can provide retailers with valuable information about customer preferences, helping them improve services and strengthen engagement.

The Future of Customer Experience

Indeed, the possibilities for improving customer experience with IoT are limitless. As the retail landscape changes, companies are presented with an opportunity to collect and analyze customer data for successful targeting across various channels. With retail companies realizing the potential of IoT, we will see a greater adoption in the near future, enabling increased insights into customer preferences.

As consumers interact with retailers which have IoT-enabled their stores their expectations will evolve to appreciate positive interactions driven by technology, gradually promoting responsiveness, transparency and agility in retailers.