We’ve been hearing about the chance that IoT will bring back each and everybody for a few times now. Connected transport, white goods, and other electrical items all joining in together to form our day seem just that tiny bit easier. But how is it getting to matter? How will it truly give us time back or make our experiences during a retail world desire we’ve taken a step forward?

For retail, especially, I think you want to have a transparent problem to unravel, efficiency to realize or advantage to offer to a customer once your solution is implemented. Often solutions aren't customer-facing but should aim to fund a seamless experience to ultimately benefit both the efficiency of the business and conclusively the customer.

Your first question should be, “How do I solve a real problem?” Your IoT solution must be a real strategic choice that's of future investment value for the retail environment. Especially, if you're buying hardware, are you able to ensure your solution is going to be supported long term? Will it get security and functionality updates for an honest length of your time for an excellent return on your capital investment? Otherwise, you want to ask yourself, why you're doing it.

So now you want to ask yourself, “What am I able to start to try to immediately to properly utilize IoT in my retail environment?” In my opinion, IoT lends itself perfectly to the automation of checklists, counting, and maintenance.

• What does one constantly maintain, or wish you didn’t need to remember to maintain?

e.g. many retail environments have already got automated printer cartridge replenishment and parts servicing.

• What equipment does one run?

• Does it have a network-attached capability?

• If it’s a hardware item, are you able to automate its servicing?

• Can we automate reporting from the device for usage?

• Can this solution count my stock or other transactions then provide that information back to a database?

• Can this solution receive recipe or configuration updates remotely?

• Can this solution cut costs in production, development or assembly?

• Can this solution monitor and report on the environment my products are stored or shipped in? e.g. temperatures / movements / impacts

Now for something more exciting, “What am I able to do to directly interact with my customers?”

Again, just my opinion, I think customers enjoy interacting with brands on their own devices like their smart-phone or smart-watch. These devices themselves are breaching the doors of the IoT edge.

"Often solutions aren't customer-facing, but should aim to supply a seamless experience to ultimately benefit both the efficiency of the business and ultimately the customer"

• Can we now give our customers the power to receive full personalization?

• Will my customer now receive in-depth loyalty with measurable benefits?

• Does your customer want quick access to their experience ‘last time’?

  E.g. previous shopping lists or other selections

• Can we now make recommendations for the new items that supported your previous experience or likes?

• Can we now quickly provide help for a customer that's trying to find something?

• Can our customers now interact with smart shelves with smart pricing, on-hand and ingredient or construction details?

• Will our smart shelves request to be replenished for our customers?

• Can our customers’ now outright pre-orders for food/drinks or other merchandise both from outside or inside the store?

• Are you able to provide feedback supported health? e.g. what to eat or what to wear and why?

• Can we now produce a saleable product that's a neighborhood of the IoT ecosystem?

Can your IoT solution finally provide your marketing team with the solution to “why” your customer loves or hates your products or solutions and the way you would possibly get them back?

A final friendly reminder, hubris in technology is some things everyone must remember of. So I need to reiterate – “Don’t forget security!”

This comes within the sort of protecting both a customer’s data on any given device or solution, also as also ensuring the device or solution is often constantly updated and prevented from getting used as an attack vector inside your retail network. No business should allow themselves to be subsequent data leak or hacking pariah thanks to poorly programmed IoT devices.