The retail sector has a high percentage of companies with active projects: 58%, compared with 48% of all the respondents in our IoT survey. Another 30% of the retailers have IoT projects in a research or development phase. Currently, supply chain and asset management are the top priorities, but over the next two years the sector will also look to bolster employee and customer experience and security, as well as logistics and predictive maintenance.
While retailers may be very active in the IoT arena, they, like companies in other industries, are worried about a range of trusted tech issues. However, unlike some other sectors, retailers are not letting their concerns derail their IoT efforts.
A majority of retailers (57%) are taking steps to address privacy for both consumers and employees, including by designing security and privacy into IoT products (47%) and taking measures to prevent data breaches (43%). Retailers also feel strongly about taking responsibility for addressing trust concerns: 62% of them believe individual companies should be on the hook to a large extent for security and privacy (compared with 51% of all respondents), while 65% think tech providers, to a large extent, should be responsible (compared with 58% of all respondents).
Despite trust concerns, retailers are moving ahead to reap IoT’s benefits—which 94% believe outweigh the risks—and are evaluating how they can incorporate this tech into various aspects of their business.
Finding out who’s buying what, when
IoT-based facial and object recognition solutions can give retailers demographic data on who is in the store and provide sentiment analysis on the products offered. They can get data for real-time analytics—store traffic, customer demographics, data reporting—which can help with staffing, scheduling, traffic flow, signage, merchandising and promotions. In fact, 42% of the retailers are improving decision-making with IoT and analytics, and 50% expect to do so within two years. These solutions can also enable retailers to deliver promotions to customers on their smartphones, and, when tied into geolocation data and AI, they can even determine when customers are more likely to buy.
Tracking assets in motion
IoT solutions can monitor and report the exact location, environment and handling of shipments from a factory or fulfillment center to a retail store or customer destination. This capability offers retailers real-time insights into the handling of an order while it’s en route, while also spotlighting any delays. Almost half (49%) of retailers are already benefiting from using IoT solutions to improve their supply chain, and 38% expect to see value within two years.
Offering a different way to pay
The IoT can support different types of payment systems, including some that eliminate point-of-sale (PoS) terminals by giving employees handheld devices to ring up shoppers’ transactions at any spot in a store. Of the retailers surveyed, 47% have already improved the customer experience with IoT, and 43% expect to do so.
Of the retailers surveyed, 44% have enhanced security with IoT, and 40% expect to see benefits within two years. For instance, retailers can collect images of individuals who have been identified as shoplifters and then use facial recognition and CCTV video feeds to alert security if they enter a store or mall. In addition, retailers can run algorithms on PoS data to identify suspicious transactions as they occur, and can link that data with CCTV footage in real time to identify people making suspicious transactions.
Meeting sustainability goals
By using smart lighting and energy systems in stores and warehouses, retailers can conserve energy and reduce their power bills. IoT has improved facility and energy management for 50% of the retailers surveyed, and an additional 41% expect to see improvements in the next two years.