(Image: Brandchannel)

IoT helping bricks-and-mortar stores fight back against online retailers

The Internet of Things could be a key weapon in the fight for retail supremacy between bricks-and-mortar stores and online outlets, allowing them to buy local SEO and continue to compete in an increasingly corporate-giant world, according to a recent survey by Zebra Technologies.

The 2015 Global Shopper Survey found that 96 percent of retailers are ready to bring IoT devices into their operations in the hope that it will strengthen relationships with consumers, enable analytics of customer data and help track stock levels.

The study also found that consumers are, for the most part, willing to share their personal information with IoT devices in order to receive a more personal shopping experience. 74 percent of respondents said that they were willing to share data such as age, likes and purchasing history.

Approximately 64 percent of consumers also listed a high level of in-store service as being a key factor when deciding to make a purchase, but retail staff are finding that greater technological support is required in order to achieve this.  As well as self-help terminals and price scanners, RFID tags are now being added to many products so businesses can gain visibility on what is selling well and which parts of the store are receiving the highest foot traffic. As well as helping with retail floor planning, RFID tags can send information to a store’s web interface, so employees can receive a real-time update on stock levels.

“RFID technology has helped retailers become more nimble, tracking inventory better, adopting just-in-time supply chain methods that keep the right items in stock at the right price, but some retailers are bumping it up a notch, using multiple technologies to detect and record everything from traffic patterns on their shop floor to opting your mobile device onto the shop’s Wi-Fi in order to track your behaviour and push offers your way,” explains Stuart Leung, SEO manager at Salesforce.

An increase in Internet usage and online payments has given web-based retailers a competitive edge over physical stores for some time, but now it seems that IoT technology is giving bricks-and-mortar businesses the opportunity to fight back on a more even playing field.