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Internet of Things: use of smartstores in the retail industryA smartstore is a concept that describes the principle of automating retail trading platforms utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT) technology. To automate these processes, RFID sensors, POS terminals, smart shelves, smart carts, video cameras, Big Data technology and many other solutions can be used. As a result, retailers gain ample opportunities to optimize their business processes and improve the quality of service to their customers. For example, by using RFID tags and specialized software, you can control in real time the types of goods that were taken off the shelf, which ones were loaded into carts, which ones were paid at the checkout, etc.
Here are some of the main benefits and shortcomings of the Internet of Things-powered smartstores that retail companies deal with:
Internet of Things retail applications: bringing the smartstore concept to life
According to Grand View Research Inc., by 2025 the global IoT retail market is expected to reach $94.44 billion USD. A significant share of these funds will account for smartstores. Among the technologies used in smartstores, the highest growth during this period will be demonstrated by Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) solutions. The growth of the sensor market for retail chains, taking into account the compound CAGR percentage, is expected to be around 24% per year.The key market for the Internet of Things retail solutions is Latin America. By 2025, the share of Latin America’s revenues will be more than 12% in the structure of global retail sales. Asia-Pacific region will also show a tremendous growth due to economic stability, an increase in the number of smartphones among users and a high rate of Internet distribution. Grand View Research also reports that the relationship between IoT developers and retail companies will mainly be built on the following principles: software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS). At the same time, experts identify the following factors, which can negatively affect the development of the industry:
- Lack of uniform technological standards;
- Impossibility to completely protect smart devices from external interference.
The Internet of Things in retail industry: companies dominating the smartstore marketKey players in the market are now companies such as Intel Corporation, Impinj Inc., RetailNext Inc., Allerin Tech Pvt. Ltd., and Losant IoT Inc.
However, in recent years a large number of start-ups have also appeared on the market, the products of which are often in no way inferior to the IT giants in quality. So, if you have an idea for an IoT retail solution (and provided it stands the feasibility test!), you’ll be able to compete with Intel as equals!In October 2016, CB Insights released a map showing the leading startups on the IoT retail market.
The map is divided into the following sections:
- Beacon- and sensor-based analytics. The companies in this group provide hardware and software solutions to help stores track visitors, optimize staff time, control discounts, monitor promotions, etc. Euclid Analytics, for example, provides an analytics platform which monitors the visitors and determines how the promotions affect the attendance of the store;
- Beacon-based marketing. The solutions of this group also track the customers, but use this data for marketing purposes. For example, Estimote sends push notifications about products or promotions to the phones of buyers who are nearby. Kimetric’s sensors visually track the age of buyers, their gender and clothing style to present them with an individual marketing proposal;
- Beacon analytics and marketing. The solutions of this group are aimed at correlating internal analytics and marketing research;
- Inventory tracking. QueueHop develops special sensors that are designed to protect goods from theft. Sensors automatically unclip off the goods after their purchase. Another startup, Cosy develops robots that monitor products using specialized indoor mapping software;
- Indoor mapping. These startups create detailed maps of shops and shopping malls. This allows retailers to help shoppers find the right products and get information about the current discounts or promotions;
- Service robots. Startups Simbe Robotics and Fellow Robots are developing robots that will help customers quickly find products and ensure the shelves stay stocked. Fellow Robots plans to launch LoweBot in eleven stores this fall;
- Loss prevention. Gatekeeper uses RFID tags with automatic wheel locking, so that they do not release shopping carts without paid purchases;
- At-home shopping buttons. Startups Kwik and Hiku offer specialized devices that allow users to order different products directly from home. Similar to the Amazon Dash buttons, Kwik enables customers to re-order products with a single click, while the Hiku device can scan bar codes to identify the goods for re-ordering, and can also recognize the voices of users;
- Smart dressing rooms. Letting the shoppers request new items from the store, adjust lighting in the fitting rooms, and see outfit recommendations is also a reality now. Oak Labs created an interactive, touchscreen mirror which (with the help of RFID tags) can determine which goods the buyer brought into the room and then recommend related products. The startup already works successfully with the sales network of Polo Ralph Lauren shops.