internet of things retail


We’ve heard a lot about how the Internet of Things (IoT) will change our home lives—connected coffee machines that automatically increase the strength of our cup if we’ve had a bad night’s sleep, for example—and now a retailer is showing us how it could change our stores.

Luxury clothing retailer Thomas Pink has brought the IoT into its Wall Street, NYC location with a digital store solution, Acuitas Digital IoT, that will enable it to track the real time movement of merchandise and people around the store and use analytics to predict shopper behaviour.

This in turn will help Thomas Pink personalise customer service, optimise the store layout and improve employee workflows.

Right products, right place, right time

Thomas Pink marketing director, Alex Field, said the new system is about having the right products, in the right place, at the right time. “This is fundamental to delighting our customers and delivering great new digital experiences to the store,” he explained.

IoT sensors will automatically scan the Thomas Pink floor, while IoT powered radio frequency identification (RFID) sensors will provide real-time inventory visibility and movement tracking of merchandise.

Digitising the store overcomes the limitations of legacy handheld RFID systems that rely on manual weekly or daily store scanning, a process that can be error prone and time consuming.

Video sensors will allow Thomas Pink to understand the behaviour of customers in the store. They will provide insight and intelligence on what customers are buying, who goes where in the store, merchandising effectiveness and how the stores are performing.

“We will now be able to use big data analytics to improve store efficiency and performance to help our people to spend more time with customers rather than getting tied up in admin tasks,” said Field. “We’re incredibly excited about how it will transform the store for our people and customers.

“It will bring our digital store strategy to life and will show how it can become a real driver of growth.”

In real world terms

So, how will the IoT enabled store actually work? There are a few applications for the connected tech.

For example, if a customer picks up a shirt, carries it elsewhere in the store and abandons it, the next customer looking for that shirt may not be able to find it and a sales assistant will get tied up searching for it while the customer waits. With the IoT system, the assistant will know exactly where the item is.

If a garment sold is the last of its style and size in-store, the system will automatically send a real time alert notifying a sales assistant of the need for replenishment without waiting until the end of the day for a stock check.

In the future, the solution could also be combined with digital signage to transform fitting rooms by prompting a customer buying a shirt to consider a matching tie or cufflinks.

Mike Beedles, chair of the Acuitas Digital Alliance, which created the IoT solution, said that the in-store IoT system is the way of the future.

“Today’s customers have higher expectations of the retail experience than ever before,” he explained. “Digital solutions are key to helping retailers meet this challenge and seize the opportunities new shopping behaviours offer.”


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