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3 ways retailers can benefit from The Internet of Things

December 12, 2016
Posted by Andy Sammars

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is already revolutionising supply chains across a range of industries. IoT refers to the connected network of devices embedded with sensor technology which stores and shares data across multiple platforms, and a report released earlier this year by the IDC states that the revenue of the IoT market in Asia/Pacific alone, is forecasted to cross 853 billion US dollars in 2020.

Furthermore, there are a number of ways businesses can deploy IoT technology that will help maximise margins and deliver a better service to customers. Retail it seems, more so than other sectors, is capitalising on the opportunities presented by IoT technology. Here are 3 ways in which retailers are benefiting:

 

  1. Improved stock management to increase sales opportunities

Managing inventory is a major challenge for retailers. The closer they track their supply chain, the fewer problems they will encounter with stock management. IoT deployments in retail start at the warehouse, providing real-time and actionable insights into stock movements on and off the shelves, as well as automating replenishment orders. Similar advances are also being implemented in stores too, where information is being sent back to warehouses or distribution hubs, that triggers an automatic order of product as a customer takes it off the shelf and out of the shop.

The ability to record and manage inventory as it enters and leaves premises automatically greatly increases the efficiency of stock management. Instead of manually scanning every item as it enters or leaves the local store, IoT sensors can detect each unit and update the central stock database automatically. Information can be provided as to how many sizes of an item are available and any missing sizes so stock can be more quickly replenished. Removing the human element to the process increases the speed and accuracy of the stock management process. It also means that there is less need for manual stock taking exercises, again reducing the time taken and the cost of resource.

 

  1. Track and trace delivery to ensure speed and quality of goods delivered

Often retailers need to track the journey of goods from source, all the way to the consumers door. RFID and barcodes are 2 common technologies used to track this process. IoT sensors can also be used along the journey to report on every detail of the delivery, helping to identify potential delays or unnecessary cost such as demurrage charges if a container is stuck in processing for several days. These sensors can also be used to help update the customers as to more exact delivery times, improving service levels for the end consumer in an increasingly connected digital world.

Using Track and Trace for Fleet management has the capability to provide real-time information relating to transport such as drivers’ driving habits, improved route planning, insurance coverage of vehicles and goods at any time as they move through the supply chain and across new and different territories.

Telemetry can be taken to a new level as IoT sensors not only report on the route taken by delivery drivers, but also instances where time is being wasted. Backed by real-time data analysis, it becomes possible to push messages to the driver, providing additional instructions or warnings about service levels, traffic or stock condition.

For retailers of perishable goods, IoT technologies can help ensure the quality of goods from source to final destination. Actively monitoring the temperature inside chilled trucks can quickly alert drivers (and despatch controllers) of heat fluctuations that may compromise goods before they are damaged.

And for organisations with stringent corporate social responsibility (CSR) targets, the ability to monitor CO2 emissions will be vital in proving that their carbon footprint reduction programs are having the desired effect.

 

  1. Real-time information to inform promotions and boost sales

Promotions play a vital role in the retail space to increase sales and omni-channel retailing relies on delivering a consistent experience to customers online and in-store. Retailers are now able to collect data using IoT about customer’s preferences, shopping history, geographical location and other such variables. They can analyse this information and send more targeted and customised promotions to the consumer.

Most big-ticket purchases now begin online, even for repeat customers, but tracking their in-store activities can also help to direct a customer’s activities online too. By monitoring purchases and the route they take around your store using IoT, it becomes possible to create a profile of their interests. You can even begin to predict the products they are interested in and create personalised promotions online and off-line.

To conclude…

…The new rule in the business and retail world is going to be, “Anything that can be connected, will be connected”.   Technology research company Gartner says 6.4 Billion connected things will be in use in 2016, up 30% from 2015 and will reach to nearly 21 billion connected devices by 2020. Furthermore, a successful IoT implementation will go beyond simply collecting the data. The real value lies in using the insights gathered, preferably in real-time, which will not only lead to increased customer service levels and satisfaction but also help retailers boost sales and reduce costs.

 

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Andy Sammars, Commercial Manager Adjuno
Andy has over 28 years of supply chain experience, including both a physical logistics background, and more recently, software solutions. Andy is currently a Commercial Manager for Adjuno,
who are a leading supplier of web-based supply chain software. In addition to the Commercial aspects of his role, Andy also enjoys building client relationships through Account Management, assisting with project implementations and Product strategy. Andy’s knowledge and experience has resulted in the successful implementation of supply chain solutions to clients including Monsoon Accessorize, Poole Lighting, John Lewis and Arcadia.