E-retailing has exhibited noticeable growth in the last couple of years. An increasing number of people are showing interest in buying their favorite products online. Though, e-retailing or online retailing doesn’t still account for more than 15% of the total global retailing. It makes one thing very clear which is that in spite of great online retail revolution, people still express their trust on buying from physical stores.
Actually, people still like to go to the market and buy products from physical stores. They love doing this because in a physical store, they can touch and feel products. Also, they can even try a product before spending money over it.
On the other hand, e-retailing helps people make smart decisions that also satisfy their fashion quests. E-retailing websites and apps make it easier for customers to search a product from thousands of available options. A single physical store just cannot provide this sort of liberty and, maybe, customers will need to move around several stores before finding what exactly they are looking for.
When using an e-retailing platform, be it’s an app or a website, customers can easily find a product by browsing a few categories, applying suitable filters and then they will have the best of recommendations. Also, they can read reviews and ratings provided by previous customers and come to the decision whether they should purchase that product or not. So, searching a product in an online platform is easier than searching the same product in a physical store.
A physical store just lacks for these things. A customer has to completely depend on a sales-person and whatever he or she show and say. Also, a new customer buying a product from a physical store cannot instantly get recommendations from previous customers who have already bought and been using the same product. This is just missing there.
Let me present some key challenges that most of the physical stores are now currently facing because of the surging e-retailing market.
- It’s not easy for a physical store to deliver the premium experience to every customer visiting the store.
- These stores often struggle with the low operational efficiency that keeps on increasing running costs.
- Physical stores can hardly manage engagement, spread low-budget awareness, and maintain the customer-loyalty.
- They struggle with long queues of frustrated customers waiting for their turn to make payments for their purchase.
- Physical stores do not have an organized system for the inventory management. This sort of system helps retailers rapidly fulfill their product requirements.
- Also, these stores do not have a connected system required for the predictive maintenance and continuous tracking of their equipment.
- Most of the stores are still operating with internal POS systems. Customers are crowded around at these stations for making payments.
- There is no easy way a physical store can provide personalized shopping experience to every customer visiting them.
- Most of them do not also have an effective system to quickly manage deals and offers.
Even a typical e-commerce app cannot do this without the support of technologies like real-time analytics, machine learning, and commodity sensors and embedded systems. But the IoT technology can make it happened. It can use analytics and data, machine learning capability, and various sensors including edge sensors and embedded systems.
With IoT solutions, retailers with physical stores can get rid of a number of those challenges that online retailers have unintentionally posed to them. Some of those solutions are as followed.
Intelligent shelves: There are IoT-based ultrasonic sensors that can monitor and update the presence of products on shelves. They can detect if the shelves have sufficient products for the display & sale or not and generate notification for the same.
Inventory management: Managing the inventory of a retail store can become easier with RFID or Beacon sensors showing the real time details of merchandises leaving the stock and coming from distributors.
Efficient movement of merchandises: There are IoT sensors to map heat or footfalls of crowd that help a store rapidly measuring crowd and pushing merchandises from stock to store.
Proximity Marketing: Stores can use iBeacon and Eddyston based system to push promotion offers for customers coming in a specific proximity and in and increase sales.
Checking availability of resources or facilities: Sensors can also regularly track and update about the availability of trail rooms, sales person on the cash counters, entrance and exist guards, parking lots, etc.
IoT Locks: There are a lot of things that a big store has to keep safe and secured. They need rooms locked up to ensure authorized excess. IoT can handle all these tasks from a single dashboard, even from remote locations.
Power consumption monitoring IoT can also help in efficiently managing power and energy in stores so that the cost of operations can be decreased. IoT sensors can detect if a particular area of the store needs air-conditioning or lights and then regulate them.
Customer analytics: Sensors also produce data which can be used as customer analytics to generate daily, weekly or month reports which can help a store analyze the conversion rate , zone conversion rate, etc.
Tracking employees and assets: IoT can even help stores tracking their employees and assets and ensure them that their resources and assets are at their tasks.
So, with the technology of IoT, software can sense things in the real time and help stores taking right decision with the right options available to them.