Smart Stores: Future of Retail is Here

By now most business owners and consumers are aware of the impact that the Internet has had on the retail industry. Traditional stores need to keep up with the massive competition that has been created by the e-commerce industry. However, many store owners also realised that in order to stay competitive they needed to take an omnichannel approach to their business and embrace all the aspects that drew customers to the online world.

Businesses began asking how they could capitalise on the elements of this online success trend and integrate them into physical stores. And thus, the connected, smart store was born. The modern consumer, despite having digital options at their fingerprints, still enjoys the occasional in-store customer experience. Physical stores, therefore, are brought into the digital era by the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to interconnected everyday objects that are connected to the Internet and which change the way in which we live our everyday lives.

Retailers capture IoT data from both in-store and digital channels and then apply this data to understand behavioural patterns and preferences of customers. Retail stores use IoT, for example, to offer dynamic pricing, self-scanning shopping or real-time stock availability.

Heart of Smart Stores: Connected Devices

However, at the forefront of the connected store is the use of interconnected sensors and devices to create a personalised experience. The IoT is enabling retail stores to evolve into smart stores, which obtain data about customers’ tastes, needs, and habits in real-time and develop shopping experiences to cater to these needs. For example, a salesperson who can access a customer’s shopping behaviour can create a sales pitch directly related to this data. According to the 2018 Personalisation Pulse Check from Accenture Interactive, 91% of consumers are far more likely to buy from a retailer that remembers their name, recognises their preferences, pays attention to their history and provides them with relevant offers and recommendations.

Naturally, businesses need to ensure that they have a strong and stable network to support a connected system. It is clear that shoppers want the in-store retail experience to have the same technological dynamism that the online experience delivers. The store of the future is here today, and if a retailer is not already experimenting with technology solutions to smooth, enhance and refine the shopping experience, it’s already behind.