The Internet of Things (IoT) is an interconnected body of internet-enabled objects that collect, track and share data. The Internet of Things is already being used in retail, mobile technology, and businesses worldwide. With the potential for massive growth, IoT is posed to create a massive shift in how companies do business. How can your business adapt to this coming revolution?
It Will Change How You See Customers
Traditionally, brick-and-mortar stores have relatively few ways of tracking customers beyond what happens at the point of sale. A market, for instance, might typically put produce and dairy along the outer walls while putting grocery items in the center to encourage customer traffic patterns. But is that actually the pattern the customer follows? Already, GPS and Wi-Fi tracking allows retail stores to track customers in real-time, analyze the real foot traffic of their customers, and change their store layout accordingly.
As this technology develops, retailers will be able to customize the shopping experience with personalized data — offering on-the-spot deals or encouraging customers to try new items as they shop. Store owners can use real, concrete customer data to optimize the customer experience and maximize profits for themselves.
It Will Change How Customers Shop
Until recently, the idea of a refrigerator that would tell you when you were out of a grocery item was the province of science fiction. Not anymore. The IoT is already changing how customers purchase items. A prime example of this technology is the Amazon “Dash” button; internet-enabled buttons that let users reorder items like detergent with one touch. This mode of purchase not only provides value and convenience for the customer — it also provides granular data on purchasing habits and consumption time. Tracking and exploiting this data could save retailers on inventory and reordering.
The Internet of Things is also poised to drastically change the shopping experience at retail stores. In the future, an everyday shopper might be able to:
- Try on virtual clothing using “smart mirrors.”
- Scan barcodes to get product information, social media feedback, and more.
- Navigate using “smart shopping carts” with built-in digital shopping lists.
- See prices change in real-time to account for demand or trends.
- Automatically check out via scanning technology without stopping at a cash register.
It Will Change How Business Operate
The Internet of Things is well on the way to revolutionizing how businesses optimize their operations. RFID, data visualization, and cloud technology will allow employers to track products, manage inventory and control distribution with much greater efficiency than before. The aforementioned real-time changing of prices also stand to benefit business owners, as they can maximize the profit on sudden changes in demand or popularity. Retail stores and other brick-and-mortar outlets can even use the IoT to monitor temperature and lighting, optimizing the climate controls for cost-effective energy usage.
It Will Create New Markets
Estimates say the IoT is likely to add more than $14 trillion to the global economy before 2030. The Internet of Things will create massive opportunities for savvy business owners. Already, household appliances, consumer electronics, and other Internet-enabled devices are taking off in the market. One of the fastest-growing markets is “smart home” technology, which can be found at home improvement outlets like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Internet-enabled thermostats, door locks, and major appliances are already in use in many homes today. The smart home of the future might contain:
- Internet-enabled exercise equipment that can share and track user fitness data.
- Shopping lists customized based on fitness goals.
- Groceries that are delivered automatically when needed.
- Parts and accessories (like water filters) arrive automatically on a schedule.
- Home security, thermostat and even gardening is all monitored via the IoT.
The Internet of Things isn’t a fanciful sci-fi future — it’s here today and growing fast. The growth of this technology will no doubt disrupt many traditional businesses. Will yours be ready?