Applications Of Smart Devices In Retail

Your everyday retailer is under a huge amount of pressure. Apart from stocking the best and latest products ‘straight off the catwalk’ they’re also expected to be competitive against online pricing and provide a dose of experience for good measure. 

As technology becomes more and more integral to consumers’ daily lives, retailers are infusing digital tools into their brick-and-mortar retail stores. Consider adopting these retail tech trends to create interesting and customized shopping experiences that keep in-store sales up and build brand loyalty.

  • Keep Shoppers Informed

More than half of shoppers research product information on their phones while shopping in-store. Retailers can meet that need by leveraging the Internet of Things.

Bluetooth beacons, for example, can send alerts about new products or offers to customer phones as they walk through the store – a highly persuasive technique when well executed.

  • Ease The Decision-Making Process

Smart screens and mirrors do more than inform customers; they help them make purchasing decisions. For example, most people won’t go back into the same store’s dressing room a second time, even if the clothes they tried on didn’t fit!

Smart mirrors take the effort out of exploring options by putting them at the customer’s fingertips, allowing them to view products in different colors and sizes, request alternatives from a floor rep, or even virtually try them on – all from their fitting room. 

Smart devices like these also help shoppers narrow their choices quickly, simplifying purchasing decisions by minimizing distractions and the risk of analysis paralysis.

  • Optimize Field Management

New smart retail devices also help managers optimize merchandising and inventory management, improving the shopping experience.

RFID inventory tracking, for example, helps monitor stock – excellent for keeping shelves pristine and options available for shoppers.

  • Personalize Customer Experiences

Retail technology is a great way to gather shopper data in order to customize their experience. 

Consumers appreciate rewards programs, for instance. 58 percent of loyalty members hope to see plastic loyalty cards move to a mobile equivalent; try creating a digital rewards program to gather customer data – this can create personalized experiences and help build a more loyal customer base. 

However, simple customer surveys can provide managers with a path to creating tailored options for their customers.

Smart Devices Use Cases In Retail

1. Smart Shelves

Smart shelf systems contain three elements: an RFID tag, an RFID reader, and an antenna.

Being placed on the goods, RFID tags have an integrated circuit and a microchip antenna that transmits data to the RFID reader. Information is collected from the RFID tags and sent to an IoT platform, where it’s stored and analyzed.

Smart shelves are suited to inventory management, that has been an expensive and tedious process for a long time. Now smart shelves can automatically monitor inventory and send managers alerts if a certain item is running low or its date will expire soon.

Therefore, connected devices are crucial for avoiding oversupply, shortage of goods, and thefts in stores. By tracking inventory, they enable to reduce stress, remove operating mistakes, and save costs.

Smart shelves also take an important part in making intelligent insights into customer behavior.

By monitoring inventory and transmitting data about items movements and whereabouts to an IoT platform, the system can provide retailers with information about customer needs and preferences, showing them ways to improve their services, increase customer interactions, and boost sales.

2. Beacons

Beacons (iBeacons, Eddystone, altbeacon etc) are small Bluetooth devices that send alerts to smartphones based on location proximity.

In the retail industry, this means customers can receive discounts, special events, or other reminders when they’re near a shop and have previously downloaded the store’s app.

Also, beacons are irreplaceable for customer in-store navigation and collecting data about customer behavior, for example, the most preferred routes, goods, and stores in the shopping center.

3. Smart Mirrors and Virtual Dressing

Smart mirrors used within fitting rooms could suggest other items based on what you’re trying on from data of what others have bought using an RFID label-scanning system.

Smart mirrors have also been put into use by brands such as Burberry with an augmented reality element, allowing the shopper to virtually dress themselves without having to physically put on a thing. 

4. Caper Lab

Caper Lab makes a smart self-checkout cart powered by Amazon-Go's AI, sensor and image recognition technology.

Customers simply pick items from shelves, scan the item’s barcode, drop it in the cart, and pay directly on the cart when shopping is done. No app necessary, no cash changes hands, no waiting in line. How could it be so easy?

  • Scan – Scan the item barcode, and simply add it to the shopping cart. No app download necessary. 
  • Bayar – Once you have completed shopping, pay directly on the cart, with credit/debit or mobile payment.
  • Pergi – Remove your bagged items from the cart, skip the cashiers, and be on your way!

How It Works?

Caper combines image recognition and a weight sensor to identify items without a barcode scan

Each time they scan, the cart is actually taking 120 photos and precisely weighing the items to train Caper’s machine vision algorithms in what Gao likens to how Tesla is inching toward self-driving.

One big advantage over its ceiling and shelf camera competitors is that Caper’s cart can promote deals on nearby or related items. In the future, it plans to add recommendations based on what’s in your cart to help you fill out recipes.

5. Smart Warehousing

A smart warehouse is the culmination of warehouse automation (in other words, automating various components of your warehousing operations). Similar to smart homes, a smart warehouse is enabled with several automated and interconnected technologies. 

These technologies work together to increase the productivity and efficiency of the warehouse, minimizing the number of human workers while decreasing errors.

What makes up a smart warehouse?

  • Robotics

Warehousing robots that you would see today mainly handle the picking and packing of goods.

Usually resembling Roombas, your common warehousing robots automate the picking process by physically bringing product shelves to the human workers packing orders. Essentially, they’re automated, more maneuverable pallet jacks. 

Key Benefits

  1. They move faster than people can
  2. Move more goods at once 
  3. They can even identify the optimal route for picking up the necessary products.
  • Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID)

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) helps organize and control inventory. RFID gets rid of old analog paper tracking methods in favor of tracking packages with digital tags.

Radio waves are then used to transfer data to or between the digital tag and an automated scanning system, recording the product’s information.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI helps warehousing robots find the most efficient route for picking products. It can also be used to determine the best box type for a shipment based on the type, number, size and weight of the products. 

Some warehouses have even been able to implement machines that can pack products, using AI to pack them in the most space-efficient manner.

  • IoT

An example of IoT at work in a smart warehouse management system starts from a warehouse receiving a product. As the shipment is received, an RFID scanner scans the tags, telling a WMS which and how many goods were received. 

The WMS then communicates with robots, informing them of where those goods should be stored on the warehouse floor.

  • Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)

The use of a WMS is the cherry on top of all of your smart technology. A WMS solution has many uses, from gathering valuable data to helping users manage warehousing processes. This allows you to keep track of how efficient your warehouse’s day-to-day operations are and if you can improve on anything specific.

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