Just five years ago, you might have walked into a grocery shopping store. You would head to the freezer section to pick up a pint and then head home. The entire transaction was quite simple. It did not involve any interaction with smart screens.
Today’s Instagram post might show you an advertisement for a subscription to ice cream. You might tell Alexa that you need to go get ice cream after your work day. You might receive a text from your partner asking for cookies with chocolate syrup. Waze is installed on your car’s dash screen to avoid traffic. You walk into the store listening to your wireless headphones and enjoying a summer beat. The music makes you want to buy popsicles. You leave the shop with your purchase in hand.
These touchpoints only represent a fraction of the IoT experiences you’ll have throughout your day. All of them are not controlled by the actual retailer where you purchase your icecream (except the self-checkout).
How can retailers tap the IoT revolution in retail?
IoT Technology Used to Enhance Customer Experience
One company believes cooler doors are the solution.
The company, aptly named Cooler Screens, was founded in response to a void in the consumer experience–brick-and-mortar retailers just didn’t have much IoT connectedness. Cooler Screens developed IoT-enabled Smart Screens to give customers a better shopping experience. This combined what they love online–ease and relevance with transparency–with their shopping experience in-store.
These screens offer multiple advertising functions, including full-door and banner ads, nutrition labels, filters, as well as multiple ad functionality. Sensors switch off when customers are less than six feet from the screens and display products when customers are in close proximity to them.
The real benefit for consumers, which would keep them coming back to your store for more, is that the screens can clearly display nutritional facts and sales information. This reduces eye strain. It makes it less necessary to open the doors to check on different items. It can also help you make informed decisions based on your budget and your dietary requirements.
Remembering to be helpful can help boost sales
You can encourage bundling of products like ice cream toppings or ice cream. This is good for both the retailer (who sells more units) and the customer, who enjoys an ice-cream sundae at night.
According to thought leaders, the future of IoT is in creating positive outcomes that benefit consumers and businesses. The category of Cooler Screens is certainly in this group.
IoT devices can also facilitate positive outcomes. This is another example of IoT technology that has been in use for years at Target and Walmart. Apple Pay, Square card readers, smartwatches that plug into cell phones and payment devices at restaurant tables as well as iPads with patient information for hospital rooms, all these applications can benefit customers.
Retailers need to ask themselves several questions.
Is technology being used in a way that customers have a pleasant and efficient experience? Or am I allowing my customers to have a less pleasant experience, and thus discourage them from coming back? Do I make it easier for customers to search for items and pay them or slow them down?
IoT/AR to Support Supply Chains
Another benefit to these doors is the ability to track grocery store inventory in real time, and use that data to create models to address supply chain issues.
Cooler Screens technology has the ability to give data to suppliers, marketers, and store owners. The technology does this without collecting personally identifiable information, perhaps hitting a sweet spot in the privacy-versus-information debate.
These data can be quickly analyzed and used for purchasing, stocking and supply decisions. However, there are no guarantees that it will prevent another panic-buying shortage of toilet paper. But sharing data, rather than just seeing empty shelves, could give consumers peace of mind.
With this data, how would retailers stock their shelves differently? Theoretically this data could help predict consumer behavior and reduce food and clothing waste. It also increases profit margins. It could also help to move the supply chain more quickly by sharing information quickly.
IoT can also benefit small retail outlets
IoT technology does not only apply to large retailers.
IoT can allow the farmer’s markets beekeeper to collect card payments as well as direct browsing customers to her social media profiles. A boutique clothing store can offer customers the opportunity to sign up for a digital waiting list for top-selling clothing items. To build trust, the owner or operator of a health food shop can share digital coupons with their customers and send them a monthly newsletter.
Retailers can increase their sales and loyalty by using reliable IoT technology in these ways.
IoT Technology Is Universal and Will Only Continue to Grow
Many of us have smartwatches and smartphones. Many of our smart devices are attached to lights, fans, speakers and locks. Our smart TVs stream Netflix to our computers, while we use Bluetooth keyboards.
IoT technology has become part of our daily lives. Retailers should follow the trend and help to create seamless technology experiences.
Cooler Screens offers a fascinating use case to retail IoT devices. The pilot data revealed that 90% of the consumers surveyed preferred the smart-screen shopping experience over a traditional shopping experience. Smart screen-equipped coolers also saw an increase in sales of 50 to 100 percent over other stores in the same area.
Screens could be used in the future for more than simply advertising or displaying items.
It is likely that they will be used for improving customer service. They could also be voice-enabled to allow customers to ask for directions. IoT-enabled stores could use touchscreens or touchless screens to increase their sales and offer contactless payment options. Customers could order products to be shipped to their home and view samples of the products. This kind of innovation might help ensure that the retail experience stays digital.