Consider what it was like to walk into a grocery store five years ago. You would go to the freezer and grab some ice cream. Then, you’d head home. The transaction was easy. It didn’t require any interaction with smart displays at all.
Today’s Instagram ad might feature a subscription-based ice cream service. Alexa may remind you to grab ice-cream after work. Your partner may text you asking for chocolate syrup cookies. You decide to go on a different route home and pass the grocery shop instead. Waze can be used on your car’s dash display to help you avoid traffic. Finally, you walk into the store while listening to summer music through your wireless headphones. You’re in the mood for buying popsicles when you hear the music. You leave the store with all your purchases in hand.
These touchpoints just represent a subset of IoT interactions that you may have every day. They are all controlled by retailers, except for self-checkout.
How can retailers take advantage of the IoT revolution for their business?
IoT Technology for Customer Experience Enhancement
One company claims that cooler doors are the key to finding the right answer.
The company, aptly named Cooler Screens, was founded in response to a void in the consumer experience–brick-and-mortar retailers just didn’t have much IoT connectedness. Cooler Screens was founded to create IoT connected smart screens for customers. These screens combine what they love most about online shopping, ease, relevance, and transparency with the experience they have in-store.
These screens come with multiple ad functions including full door and banner ads as well nutrition labels and filters. Consumers within six feet of these screens will trigger sensors to show products to customers who are very close on a digital planogram.
The real benefit to consumers–that would keep their attention coming back for more- is the ability to clearly display nutrition and sale information on the screens. This avoids squinting. It eliminates the need of opening the door to check different items. It makes it easier to make informed decisions about your budget and dietary preferences.
It’s also possible to increase sales by reminding customers.
Bundling products can be encouraged through the screens, such as icecream and toppings. The retailer can sell more units while the consumer enjoys an icecream cone at the end.
Many thought leaders agree that the future of IoT will be in its ability to create positive outcomes for consumers as well as businesses. Cooler Screens definitely falls under that category.
IoT devices are also facilitating positive outcomes. Take for example the price-check scanners found in Walmart and Target. Apple Pay smartwatches, Square cards readers that plug in to cell phones, payment devices at restaurant table, iPads with patient data in hospital rooms — all of these applications provide benefits for the customer.
Retailers should therefore ask themselves some questions.
Is technology being used by me to improve customer experience. Or am they allowing old technology and a lack thereof to hinder my customers’ experience, which can discourage them from returning. Do I make it easy for customers?
IoT/AR support Supply Chains
A second benefit is that these doors can be used to track inventory at grocery stores and then model the supply chain to minimize problems.
Cooler Screens’ ability to provide data to retailers, suppliers, or marketers is part of what makes it so attractive. The technology does this without collecting personally identifiable information, perhaps hitting a sweet spot in the privacy-versus-information debate.
It can be used quickly to assess and make purchasing, stocking or supply decisions. There is no guarantee that it could stop panic buying toilet paper. However, consumers could feel at ease if there was more to the data sharing than a visual representation of empty shelves.
How could this information change how stores stock their shelves? Theoretically these data could predict consumer behavior. They could also reduce food waste and increase profit margins. Information could be shared quickly across the supply chain to allow for faster movement.
IoT also benefits small retailers
IoT technology isn’t limited to big retailers.
IoT technology can allow the farmer’s marketplace beekeeper use IoT to take card payments, and to direct browsing users to her social networks. The owner of a boutique clothing store could allow customers to sign-up for a digital waitlist. To build trust in the community, a store owner who sells health foods can provide digital coupons and a newsletter.
These and other ways, retailers can increase sales and build brand loyalty by utilizing reliable IoT technologies.
IoT Technology Is Unobtrusive–and Will Only Get More
Many people have smartphones and smartwatches. Many of the smart devices we use are connected to our thermostats, lights and fans. While working from our smartphones, we can use Bluetooth keyboards to access Netflix on our smart TVs.
IoT technology has been a constant part of our lives. It makes perfect sense that retailers follow this trend and create seamless full-circle technology experiences.
Cooler Screens illustrates a great use case of IoT products in retail. Their pilot data showed that 90 per cent of customers preferred the smart screen shopping experience over traditional shopping. Also, smart screen-equipped cooler units saw sales growth of 50-100% over comparable stores.
In the future, screens might be used more than for advertising and displaying merchandise.
They are likely to be used to continue improving customer experience. They could also be voice-enabled. Customers could use them to request directions to an item. IoT technology may increase the use of touchscreens, or better yet touchless screens, in retail stores. Contactless payment options could also be offered. Customers could view samples and order products to ship to their homes. This innovation may allow the retail experience to remain digital.