How Internet of Things is Redefining the Future of Retail Industry


As digital is taking business and customer interaction to the next level, the sector which seems to avidly adopt and respond to these technological advancements is retail. The Internet of Things and retail seem to have set out on a journey to explore the Pandora’s Box of IoT. There are newer concepts being introduced and each of these the consumers are marvelling at.

For instance, Amazon Echo is turning out to be the modest son giving stiff competition to a lot of prodigal counterparts. What does Amazon Echo do? Well, you might want to find out about, what more can you make it do?

This device follows your commands like a never-failing assistant, whether it is about switching on your electrical devices; or routing you to your destination avoiding the traffic; or helping you stay updated with your to-do lists; or reminding you about re-stocking products at home which is of course through the Amazon Store; or playing your desired music for you. It even automatically updates itself through the connected cloud services.

So, it’s practically like having a robot by the name of Alexa, the name of the cloud-based voice service of this device, at your service.

Well, the big picture is that Amazon smartly introduced this connected-device into the lives of its customers to earn their loyalty and ensure absolute engagement.

The competition undoubtedly in the retail arena calls for such disruptive measures, because not only the big sharks but the piranhas in this ocean are getting a good share, with the use of proper marketing skills.

Amazon Echo
Image Courtesy: Amazon Echo

According to a survey by SAP IoT revenue by the year 2020 will reach $2.6 trillion in Asia Pacific alone, while that of North America will be $1.9 trillion. Internet of Things helps in customizing marketing efforts to best suit the respective business requirements hence, it is relied on more in the retail sector to attain high level of customer engagement.

Retail’s Response to Technological Changes

  1. Digital Signage

More effective, high on catching attention, digital signage have proved their strength in the ring of multichannel marketing strategy. According to a survey 84% of retailers in UK agree that digital signage is a competent way to increase brand awareness. By installing Enplug’s digital signage Culver City Toyota could run its social media campaign successfully and create a personal connect with its customers.

Image Courtesy:

Powerful display of content through digital signage enhances promotion campaigns. Even customers prefer to shop at places with digital displays because it helps build a trust through the information being displayed, not to forget that visually effective advertisements have always lured more traffic. Placing digital signage at POS (Point of Sale) is counted as a good approach because most of the purchase decisions are made there.

  1. Kiosks

The concept of self-service has been in the retail ecosystem since quite a while now. However, in order to make the customer journey smooth and also help it don the digital gabardine it is imperative that solutions like kiosks be introduced.

How do kiosks enhance customer experience?

  • Gaining information about a particular product, no dependency on salesperson
  • For a multichannel customer this is more user-friendly option
  • Making customers self-dependent to carry out the payment and checkout process themselves
  • Shortens your shopping tour with quicker processing

Harry and David a premium American retailer for food and gifts launched their seasonal retail outlets along with kiosks as a part of their holiday sales marketing strategy; and it ramped up their footfall in 60 days.

  1. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)

Leading retail brand Target made an announcement in the month of May 2015, about using RFID tags in their stores. For a brick-and-mortar store RFID are indeed helpful, especially when it comes to inventory management.

With the aid of radio waves, the RFID devices collect data and store them in the allotted system. The below mentioned benefits of RFID depict how this collected data helps further in the decision-making process:

  • RFID tags or labels help in product tracking, in case of misplacement or theft
  • The data helps determine the rise or fall in demand for a particular product or the consumers’ reaction towards a new product
  • Many retail chains also use it for personnel tracking

Although the technology is similar to barcode and being used for a while now, yet with the aid of some digital improvements it is finding more usefulness for itself.

  1. Mobile Advertising

The realm of retail has already crossed the borders of physical outlets and if you want to lure your customers, it has to be more than mere discounts and season sales. There are offers on social media sharing and even offers on downloading corresponding apps; these can be counted as advantageous marketing moves. Online retail stores like Flipkart, Myntra and more are choosing only the mobile application route so that they have more targeted and well-defined line of customers.

However, the multichannel customer also gets the facility to make payments through mobile, even while standing in a physical store. IoT and mobility have a strong connection and this is certain to go a long way.

Read our customer success story on how we helped this bank build a deals app to enhance their customer reach.

  1. Intelligent Shelves and Smart Mirrors

The retail industry is ensuring that the customers visiting their brick-and-mortar store are not disappointed rather amazed at the kind of experience being provided. Smart mirrors is one of those revolutionizing additions. When Memomi Labs introduced the memory mirror they knew pretty well what disruption it is going to cause in the digital as well as retail world. When they say this mirror remembers you, they actually mean it records all trials that you have carried out and displays it for you to make a smarter decision.

No wonder, it is an intelligent customer engagement and retention approach.

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Similarly the intelligent shelves help you make a proper choice by displaying other similar products you may like. They scan and identify the customer standing in front of them, differentiating on the basis of gender and age and then make suggestions based on these contexts.

The Omni-Channel Retail Experience

Bridging the gap between offline and online sales or giving a tough competition to the online eCommerce giants, whichever way you want to believe it; omni-channel is making its way speedily through the bustling retail streets. The most highlighted combat is seen between Walmart and Amazon, whereby the former is implementing the omni-channel strategy to ensure that it builds an ecosystem such that the customer can carry out an absolute digital purchase and transaction but there’s always a salesman/retailer at their service when they require one.

The omni-channel experience takes you beyond mobile, because the millennial consumers believe in doing their research, then compare the products in a brick-and-mortar store before making the final purchasing decision. However, more than anything they are looking for technologies that are time-saving and making their experience at a physical store hassle-free.

For instance the UK fashion retailer Oasis made use of iPads in their stores; so that customers could easily place their order avoiding the need to stand in long queue.


Similarly, grocery giant Kroger launched the Click and Collect service in the September of 2014 which made it comfortable for shoppers to place their order online and then collect their goods from the pickup window of the store.

And there are all sorts of disruptions taking place in the retail world as these businesses are coming up with new ideas to ensure that the customers coming to their brick-and-mortar stores get the same smooth shopping experience as it is online.


As mentioned earlier the retail industry is looking forward to more disruptive innovations from the digital realm. The competition is high and customers have turned pickier, only the most inventive can make an impact which also means the earlier adopter of Internet of Things will outdo their challengers easily.

While we have been discussing about some developments above, there already has been some innovative development in some other corner of the world which will soon make headlines with its digital disruption caption.

In the words of Sir Philip Green, chairman of the Arcadia Group, “People are always going to go shopping. A lot of our effort is just: ‘How do we make the retail experience a great one?'”

It is time that we try the digital binoculars to get more farsighted concepts right under our roof to amaze our customers.

Read this blog to know how Digital is revolutionizing the retail sector.

Lalit Singla

About the Author

Lalit Singla is working as Project Manager at Net Solutions since the last 5 years with over 10 years of experience in LAMP Stack. His expertise lies in Enterprise eCommerce and custom database driven development. In his free time, he enjoys listening to classical music.

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