The Internet of Things (IoT) today has highlighted the potential for growth in a variety of sectors, and key among those is the retail sector. One of the major areas where companies of all sizes are channeling their focus is towards the improvement of the overall in-store shopping experience that can provide insights to retailers to improve their store operations. In-store traffic numbers support the need for this focus as e-commerce websites still occupy a much lower market share than physical stores despite the rapid growth of online users.
To illustrate the impact a great in-store shopping experience can have, imagine walking into a store and navigating towards the products you desire. While doing so, you are continuously made aware of relevant offers on the products you are looking to buy or are interested in, with the option of adding them to your shopping cart in real-time. These are some of the abilities that innovative technologies such as smart shopping lists, shopping reminders, online payment options and home delivery services provide to improve your in-store shopping experience. This mix of technology and physical presence allows customers to physical presence allows customers to optimize their shopping experience, irrespective of location.
While organizations are currently working towards making these advantages a reality, the solutions must also be cost-effective for retailers, while maintaining the privacy and security of both customers as well as retailers. Proximity marketing, an oft-heard term in the retail industry in conjunction with IoT, is one of the major avenues being pursued in the process of developing these solutions. It can be achieved using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or light-based technology that detects the location of the customer and adapts the advertisement/offer to reflect the customer’s preference. Amongst the three options available, Wi-Fi based technology offers the most cost-effective solution, thereby highlighting its compatibility with development efforts.
Coupling proximity marketing with machine learning or Artificial Intelligence (AI) thus represents the next step towards personalizing marketing efforts – a concept that the retail solutions from Bosch now have the ability to accomplish. Termed as “context aware personalization”, the solution utilizes Wi-Fi based technology patented by Bosch to provide indoor position detection that enables personalized offers to be made visible to customers based on a digital persona that is created from the data received (also patented by Bosch).
Unbeatable advantages for retailers
The cost-effectiveness of the solution makes it an ideal choice for retailers as it requires only minimal changes to be made to the existing framework of the retail space. In addition to this, the solution also provides them with several useful options, such as:
- The number and type of offers/advertisements shown can be configured to change at various checkpoints within stores in real-time. The success rate of the ads in terms of converted offers can also be tracked to provide appropriate insights.
- A variety of analytical reports can also be generated:
- Heat maps to locate low/medium/high density zones within a specified time range
- Dwell times to analyze how much time people are spending in each section of the store
- Footfalls to analyze the number of people entering, exiting and the population within a store at any point of time
Retailers can make use of all the information obtained to manage and optimize all in-store operations such as the number of support staff required on the shop floor, the placement of products and the minimization of checkout queue lengths.
Unique advantages for customers
For customers, on the other hand, the solution creates a unique and smooth in-store experience by providing useful insights into the location of the products they require. This is achieved with minimal invasion of their privacy while maintaining security at all times. Certain additional features also help smoothen the shopping experience:
- A smart shopping list that is created even before a customer visits the store
- A store map that displays the store layout in detail
- Online payment options that reduce long waiting times at checkout counters
- Quick assist that enables retail floor assistance as and when needed
- Shopping reminders to help schedule trips to the store
As we move from physical (retail stores) and digital only (e-commerce websites) environments to the realm of the ‘Phy-gital’, shopping experiences are steadily changing, and creating a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved. Let’s all embrace this change!