Picture yourself in a situation like the following:
You are in a hurry, you want to get some cash from an ATM in a bank’s lobby, but you don’t have your card to open the door.
This situation might be a thing of the past, as some banks have already solved it through the use of apps. By connecting to IoT beacons (a low-energy transmitter that sends signals to other smart devices) installed in the lobby, a customer can enter without the card through his smartphone. The technology basically turns smartphones into a “key,” giving the app user access to unlocking the doors.
That’s a great idea and just one of many examples of how IoT technology impacts the way we do business. To take advantage of this technology, companies in many areas are actively working on developing strategies involving the extensive use of IoT devices.
Many are confident that IoT is the most disruptive force in business. In fact, Euromonitor’s International Digital Consumer Industry Insights report says that this technology will impact businesses the most in the next five years.
Here are some of the most exciting IoT technologies that are already changing business strategies all over the world.
1. Beacon-Based Mobile Payments
Unlocking ATM access is just one of the uses of beacons in the financial industry. Another area of services that is quickly gaining traction is beacon fintech solutions, including location-based marketing with coupons, ads, and mobile payments.
Mobile payments, for example, have the biggest potential to improve customer experience. The technology is gathering more attention throughout the world pretty quickly thanks to IoT beacons.
Here’s how it works: imagine entering your favorite coffee house. The moment you come inside, the beacon will detect the payment app on your phone, and, just around the payment time, it’ll supply the Point of Sale system with your identification data.
As a result, the payment might be carried out almost immediately, with very little or no interaction on your side.
2. Smart Shelves
Smart shelf technology is a wireless inventory control system that evaluates the quantity with weight sensors. It’s new, exciting, and useful for retail companies, as they can track the number of products on shelves and let the management know if they need to replenish it. On top of that, sensor-embedded shelves can also identify misplaced items and notify the staff.
Kroger, a U.S.-based retailer, has recently made news by collaborating with Microsoft on IoT-embedded EDGE (Enhanced Display for Grocery Environment) shelves. By storing and sending product-related data to Microsoft Azure, these innovative shelves monitor inventory count, supply price information, track temperature, and share deals of the day with customers. Thanks to Bluetooth beacons, EDGE shelves can also interact with a customer’s smartphone. This adds to improving customer in-store experience, which is another big advantage provided by IoT devices.
3. IoT and Mobile App Integration
With so many devices now connected to the Internet, apps become bridges that connect users with them. For example, an app embedded with IoT technology is necessary for managing smart vehicles, smart appliances, wearables like Apple Watch, and other devices.
The rise in IoT use means changes in the app development process. For example, it brought even more demanding speed and reliability requirements, as IoT apps have to be lightning-fast (just imagine if an app in your new car didn’t respond to your input immediately or you couldn’t turn down the temperature in your smart home app).
The integration of IoT functionality into an Android or iOS app has already become one of the most popular technologies, as it opened many new business opportunities in various areas. It’s safe to assume that many business leaders are considering building IoT apps for their businesses as the technology becomes more widespread.
4. Automated Checkout
This is another way in which IoT impacts retail business. It can reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction. For example, by installing a system or beacons connected to the Internet throughout your store, you can have them read tags on products when a customer goes to a checkout point.
Instead of standing in the line at the counter, the customer can freely leave the store and the system would request the payment in a mobile app on their phone. The technology, therefore, makes shopping easier and faster, plus there’s no need to interact with staff.
The automated checkout technology is something that retail businesses should consider in 2020. It can make the customer experience with a store easier and quicker, which is especially helpful for those on a time limit. The example of the success of Amazon Go stores, the world’s first store network with automated checkout, will certainly encourage more retailers to include the adoption of the technology in the business strategy.
The businesses of using self-checkout kiosks will also consider using automated systems because of the huge problem of theft. Having an automated system might reduce these losses; unlike a self-checkout machine, for example, it doesn’t allow choosing cheaper products.
5. Personalizing Discounts
Personalization is critically important for customers. With 54 percent of them expecting a personalized discount delivered to them within a day, businesses need to deliver.
Business owners realize the importance of customer retention and providing a personalized experience, so they look for ways to improve their performance in these areas. Business strategies in the next five years will be driven by hyper-personalization of customer service and offers, and IoT is one of the technologies capable of helping with that.
One way to engage customers is to install beacons around a brick-and-mortar store and share personalized discounts with customers. For example, if a customer who has an app of the store walks up to a shelf with a product they’ve bought before, the beacon will detect that and send a loyalty discount. This works for better personalization as well as for encouraging more customers to buy.
There are other ways to do this, including sending a discount to a customer’s smartphone immediately after they enter the store, or tracking their movement inside the location to know which products they might be interested in.
Macy’s is one of the best examples of businesses using this technology. The company first experimented with it in 2014 and is now actively engaging customers, especially around the holiday season. Through the app, customers can participate in gift codes and prizes, just by walking into their local store.
Sending the discounts requires customers to install a retail app and register as a user.
Business and IoT: a Match Made in Heaven
Imagining a store without cashiers would be pretty hard just a couple of decades ago, but now it can become a standard thanks to IoT devices. Automated checkout systems, location beacons sending discounts, and impressive new mobile applications are already happening around the world.
Exploring what IoT technologies can do for your business is certainly a good idea. If you become an early adopter, chances are good that you’ll be able to outcompete your rivals and keep more customers happy. The traditional retail world needs a positive disruption, and IoT devices might just be the ones that will finally deliver it.
About the Author: Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she works as a freelance writer at Classyessay.