IoT in Retail — Top 3 Problems

Christmas season is coming up and we will soon enjoy standing in winter clothes in long lines in overly heated retail stores waiting for our turn to purchase goods for our loved ones. Well, it does not have to be this way if we employ already available technology in a smart way.

What are the top 3 problems when you enter any retail outlet ?

Top 1 : Where is the coffee ? i.e., Locating the desired goods in the store.

Most retail outlets are flooded with goods. Especially with supermarkets it’s tough keeping track on where is what and especially if what is currently on sale. It always surprised me that indoor mapping has not caught on much more, but clearly the complexity of it far outnumber the complexity of outdoor mapping. While the building might stay at the same location for many years, outlets might change. And even if outlet’s stay the same the location of goods within the store changes with each sales campaign and seasonal promotion. It would be a fun feature if the moment you enter the store, a white-label loyalty app (Qyu?) would have a refreshed overview of locations in the store available.

Top 2 : Can I just scan my water and leave ? Immediate in-store purchase.

The other day I was really really thirsty and went to a supermarket on the way nearby. I went in quickly grabbed a water bottle from the cooling unit near the entrance, went towards the cash register nearby and…..

…was greeted by a 5 people deep line which took me 10 minutes to complete. It would have been great to have a way to just scan the barcode myself and pay via Apple Pay or another mobile payment option. Most of us are honorable people and I would be ok to have a checker near the exit to go through my goods like they have at CostCo’s. But then, I believe if we do that I just created a queue….

Top 3: Which wine is better? Efficient and meaningful reviews and comparisons.

Comparison-shopping is one of the main reasons to shop online. The amount of time I have scoured over Amazon reviews trying to find a person similar to me that has used it is off the charts !

It would be immensely useful to use a form of digital signature that connects the product with customers feedback and use cases for the product. Of course this does not work well for everything. For some products let’s call them category A like drinks, electronics, entertainment products, this would work better while for others (let’s call them category B) like soap, deodorant, wrapping paper it would work less well.

But then it can be argued that Amazon already has the competitive advantage to distinguish category A goods from category B goods and that’s why they went for the Whole Foods purchase.

Understanding how customers use your product is extremely valuable information. And for retail, the outlet is the product, at least in part. The outlet communicates the brand, the look and feel, and defines the shopping experience. Contrasting Abercrombie’s sales and Uniqlo sales in Asia, one offers a dark, clubby shopping experience where as the other offers a clean, bright shopping experience. Guess which one sells better?

This article was brought to you by tenqyu, a startups making urban living more fun, healthy, inclusive, and thriving using big data, machine learning, and LOTs of creativity.