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How Locationing & the Internet of Things Will Reshape Retail

By Tom Bianculli, Senior Director of Emerging Business, Motorola Solutions

The Internet of Things opens the door to new technologies that will have a significant impact on brick-and-mortar stores. Everything and everyone in the store will be connected in real time and retailers will become as connected as their online counterparts. This will create a personalized environment not only for store associates and managers, but also for shoppers.

According to a recent Motorola Solutions survey, 81% of Gen Y (ages 18-34) and 73% of Gen X (ages 35-49) shoppers use their mobile devices for shopping-related activities. Using the latest locationing technology, shoppers who opt in to a store’s Wi-Fi network for connectivity and use a Bluetooth smart-triggered mobile app can receive a customized and contextually relevant in-store experience.

Leveraging this technology, they will receive customer service through various channels, help finding products, and discounts and special offers tailored to their preferences and location in the store, all on their mobile devices. Imagine someone being able to request help or additional information on their smartphone and then being instantly connected to the nearest store expert in that category.

The ability to capture data in real time, from everything and everyone in the store, will provide new levels of insights from the stockroom to the shopper. Sensors will pick up the movement of products, people and key assets automatically. Insights from this real-time data will then be transformed into decisions and mobilized to the right person or system, at the right time, for the right action to be taken – such as notifying the store manager to open more point-of-sale lanes to avoid long checkout queues, and provide a better overall shopping experience.

We refer to this as “capture, transform and mobilize” and are investing to develop a solutions architecture that will effectively turn an enterprise into a platform that can be used to drive operations in real time. By using sensors, video, RFID, precise location data and analytic technologies, store managers will be able to drive productivity and enhance shopper engagement by gaining valuable insights from the movements and actions of associates, products and shoppers. This solutions architecture will be built in three layers that will be enabled by the Internet of Things:
 
• The first layer will capture the context of “things” in the Internet of Things. It will enable detailed real time visibility into associates, customers, inventory and the state of the store itself.

• The second layer will normalize and transform real time data, combined with legacy enterprise resource planning data, into decisions driven by a retailer’s business logic.

• The third layer will mobilize this data by driving actions across the enterprise that are delivered to users via devices and the ubiquitous always-on connectivity that has defined the last decade. For example, if a store’s system realizes that fresh flowers stocked earlier in the week aren’t moving fast enough and will begin wilting soon, discount coupons can be sent to nearby shoppers to drive sales.

In the survey mentioned above, 45% of shoppers also reported they would buy at least 50% more merchandise from retailers that provided better customer service, such as immediately offering to locate items not currently in stock and arranging free shipping to their homes. When equipped with mobile computers, associates will be notified in real time to begin replenishment before an item is out of stock, based on an automatic low inventory detection system, and triggered via a workforce management task solution. Associates will also be empowered with the information needed to serve shoppers, including personalized information about their interests, assuming a shopper has opted-in for that capability and level of personalization.

By building a connected, personalized environment for shoppers, associates and managers, brick-and-mortar stores will create experiences that influence the purchase path. And with the Internet of Things, technology will help build a connection between consumers and their brand and continue to impact in-store satisfaction and worker productivity.

The current age of enterprise mobility has built the foundation to enable the next age of enterprise visibility. This is not in the distant future. You can make it a reality in your store by deploying today’s latest locationing technologies.


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